Saturday, 3 February 2007

Colestimide to lower Blood Fats and Sugars

Filed under: , , ,

A study suggests that a bile acid may be used for the treatment of obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. This discovery was made when researchers found colestimide, a resin that eliminates bile acids, as a cholesterol-lowering treatment.

The study was based on the fact that abnormal lipids lead to high mortality in type 2 diabetics. The researchers investigated the effects of colestimide on blood glucose levels in mice that develop a disease akin to type 2 diabetes. Colestimide treatment prevented diet-induced obesity and high blood sugar, and corrected diet-induced obesity in mice. It also showed a significant decrease in levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol without affecting "good" HDL cholesterol levels.

How about that? The unlikely path of colestimide could detour us from hitting the dead end consequences of high blood fats and obesity. All these discoveries on mice eventually will prove something remarkable for us humans. Won't they?

Taking Control of Your Diabetes

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

A brilliant doctor, a motivational mission, and the biggest names of the industry -- success is the only option. Taking Control Of Your Diabetes is a diabetic conference designed to educate and motivate people about diabetes.

Through informative expos, packed with field experts, enlightening workshops and crowds swarming with curiosity -- taking a more proactive role in your diabetes is as easy as showing up. A few hours at a TCOYD expo will cover a lot of territory. Whether you're interested in the latest developments in research, new medications, fresh ideas on diet and exercise, or legal and insurance guidance-- you're bound to find somebody who has an answer. TCOYD health fairs give you the chance to personally engage major manufacturers, doctors, entrepreneurs and innovators looking to help diabetics live a healthier life. Ask your questions. Try their products. They are there to help you. Tell them what you think. Tell them what you need.

Medical advances in diabetes care continue to out-pace improvements in patient care. Share something new with your doctor next visit. TCOYD delivers the information to the people who need it most. The mission of TCOYD is motivating, educating, and empowering diabetics and their loved ones. The success of this mission is defined by what you make of it.

A certain protein may contribute to retinopathy

Filed under: , ,

Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy and Diabetic Macular Edema are two of the leading causes of vision loss or blindness, in spite of the great strides that have been made by health professionals. In efforts to create a better understanding of these two degenerative eye disorders, researchers from the Joslin Diabetes Center have compiled an extremely vast inventory of the proteins present in a part of the eye known as the vitreous. They have also identified a group of proteins that may play a significant role in causing blood vessel leakage in the ey e.

The findings of this study were published in the January 28th issue of Nature Medicine, in which it was suggested that an analysis of the protein composition in the human vitreous has lead to the identification of a new group of molecules involved in diabetic retinopathy. One of these molecules is said to cause leakage of retinal blood vessels, contributing to the retinal swelling (Diabetic Macular Edema) that is usually liked with advanced diabetic retinopathy.

As stated, this study was spearheaded by the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, MA, and was conducted with funding provided by the JDRF, the Massachusetts Lions Eye Research Fund, the National Institutes of Health, the Adler Foundation, and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Medical Free Electron Laser Program.

Pesky kidney stones afflict diabetics

Filed under: , ,

What're red and shaped like big jelly beans? Your kidneys, of course! But kidneys can cause trouble and strife when those nasty little gritty things known as kidney stones develop. Once they're formed, it's awfully unpleasant for those afflicted, and it's tough to get the darn things out. All kidney stones cause pain and discomfort, usually in the back, sides or abdomen. Other symptoms include nausea, bloody urine and painful or frequent urination.

Now a new report says that there's more of these stones to go around lately: the incidence of the stones is increasing not just in the US, but worldwide. According to researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, the spread of Type 2 diabetes could be the culprit. The findings, published in the American Journal of Kidney Disease, came after the researchers looked at a bunch of patients and found that having diabetes appeared to predispose them to a type of kidney stones composed of uric acid (as opposed to stones composed of calcium) Of 3,561 patients who were diagnosed with kidney stones between 1980 and 1999, those with high blood pressure, and suffering from obesity and diabetes were in much worse shape. Of those with uric acid kidney stones, forty percent also had diabetes. The scientist the n performed some handy calculations and estimate that people diagnosed with uric acid kidney stones have about a five-fold risk of diabetes, so they and their doctors should be on the lookout for signs of the disease.

Diabetes drugs and pregnancy: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Filed under: ,

I just read that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that it is re-classifying the drug NovoLog to allow its use by women with Type 1 diabetes who are pregnant. NovoLog is manufactured by drug-producing giant Novo Nordisk. The change came after a trial which found that pregnant women with T1 diabetes who took NovoLog had HbA1c levels and rates of maternal hypoglycemia comparable to women on regular insulin. The study did not, however, evaluate whether babies whose moms take the drug while pregnant have a greater risk of congenital malformations. On the other hand, women taking NovoLog benefited from a lower risk of diabetes-related pregnancy dangers such as preterm delivery.

Pregnancy and drugs. It's a complicated issue. What's safe? What's not? If only it were so simple as dividing all drugs into one category or the other - the Good or the Bad. Unfortunately, many common medications are in a third category - the Ugly? These drugs, known as category B drugs, constitute a sort of pharmaceutical no-man's land. You see, these meds have not been proven to cause harm to unborn children, like category C drugs. Yet they have not been proven safe, either, like category A drugs. This means, as I discovered when I was pregnant in 2006, if you're sick and could benefit from some specific No-Man's-Land drug, odds are your doc will offer to write you a prescription for it. He or she will warn you that it's possible the drug causes harm and leave the decision of whether or not to take it up to you. Now, I don't want to go back to the Bad Old Days when doctors told patients "do this" or "do that," "take this" or "take that," and, by golly, you did it and didn't ask questions. But wouldn't it be nice to just know what to do? Or to know that your doc knows all the answers? What's a gal to do??

Big bucks for insulin not worth it, says German government

Filed under: ,

So the price of drugs just seems to keep on climbing. And sometimes I wonder if the sky really is the limit in terms of the prices we are expected to pay. I, for example, just filled a prescription and received a tiny bottle the size of a purse-pack-sized bottle of eye drops. And how much did I pay? $25. Yes, and that's with insurance. It's insane. But it's not happening everywhere. In western Europe, where publicly-owned, government-run health care systems are the norm, people are putting the squeeze on the big pharmaceutical compa nies.

Let's look at insulin. A while ago there was a kerfuffle in the UK when government advisers overseeing the National Health Service basically said "no, thanks" to Pfizer's inhalable insulin, Exubera. Too expensive, they said. Now, Germany. This week, the biggies - Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi-Aventis - decided to slash the cost of their insulin products in Germany. Why? Officials from Germany's health ministry say the new fast-acting versions of insulin just aren't worth the money. That left Big Pharma with little option but to play ball anyway, by cutting prices by up to thirty percent. For Novo Nordisk, this means a projected loss of $14.5 million in sales this year, reports Bloomberg.com. According to this article, the German government is, in this regard, following in the footsteps of the UK and the US. In effect, this means trying to cut spending by carefully weighing the costs of specific drugs against their benefits, rather than just picking up the tab willy-nilly.

Bottom line? Market expert Mark Belsey says the big drug producers will have to adapt as the tide turns, spending a lot more time and money justifying the worth of their products. This new strategy, he says, will come at the expense of what used to be their main focus: creating and marketing fancy new mega-drugs.

Factors that Aggravate Inflammatory Markers

Filed under: , , , , ,

The results of this study do not surprise me at all. Researchers have found that psychosocial factors like cynical distrust, chronic stress and depression, may be associated with higher levels of inflammatory markers. These inf lammatory markers are related to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of premature death among people with diabetes.

The study included 6,814 men and women between the ages of 45 to 84. Participants were assessed for their levels of depression, chronic stress and cynical distrust. Blood samples obtained at the start of the study were analyzed for markers for inflammation. The researchers found associations between all three psychosocial factors and inflammatory markers.

A high stress lifestyle may increase the chance that an individual engages in social behaviors that increase inflammatory markers. The same high stress lifestyle may contribute to obesity and related metabolic problems. Furthermore, socioeconomic position is likely to be a precursor to psychosocial characteristics. True. But let's not wager our lives on a dollar-denominated scale. Consider the Chinese proverb, those who know when they have enough are rich. Now ask yourself where you stand in the socioeconomic parade. If you put it that way - I'm on easy street! Too bad it's in the wrong neighborhood.

Too good to be true? NIH explores insulin regimen for diabetes prevention

Filed under: , ,

It sounds just too good to be true: preventing or delaying the onset of Type 1 diabetes through a simple daily insulin regimen. Yet a number of health experts believe that giving insulin daily to those at risk of developing Type 1 diabetes, or those newly-diagnosed with the disease, could do just that. You see, it seems there's evidence that taking an oral dose of insulin on a regular basis brings about an increased tolerance for the substance or a "quieting of the immune system." And that could prevent diab etes or at least delay it for a few years.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) wants to find out what's what. It was announced yesterday that the NIH will fund a world-wide network of research into the issue. The research program will go by the name of Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet and will involve the participation of more than one hundred medical centers both here in the US and in Canada, Australia, and in parts of Europe. Individuals at risk for Type 1 diabetes - who can be identified through a simple blood test which identifies the presence of a certain type of autoantibodies - are currently being enrolled for the study. (I have no idea if they're looking for volunteers in the US, by the way - sorry.)

Talk about your big science breakthrough, huh? I mean, if insulin really can be used as a preventative...well, that would be fabulous in and of itsel f. But you would also have the added bonus that it could be achieved simply, with no side-effects (because insulin is quickly broken down by the digestive system), and it would be affordable. That last one's important. How refreshing it would be to have a big medical breakthrough associated with humble old insulin instead of some ultra-expensive wonder drug!

Cattle and mice rave about new insulin procedure

Filed under: , , , ,

Doesn't it seem like lab animals are being cured of diseases every day? That, of course, is partially a joke. What's not as funny, however, is the fact that animals are being killed at an alarming rate during laboratory testing. Do the ends justify the means? I'll leave you to answer that for yourself. But, whatever your feeling, I think it's safe to assume that everybody feels a little sorry for the sacrificial mice and other lab animals who, for the betterment of humankind, are often times killed during testing procedures. Again, it's your call as to whether or not the ends justify the means.

But, in the January issue of Clinical Biochemistry, it was reported that scientists and physicians with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) have delineated their method for a new, cruelty-free ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay)for human insulin. Using monoclonal antibodies produced by cells cultured in an animal-serum-free medium, PCRM's insulin ELISA (sorry for all the acronyms) is the first of its kind.

Traditionally, lab scientists detect human insulin using antibodies that have been implanted into the abdomens of living mice. If you think this is cruel, you're not the only one, for this procedure has been banned in some European countries. And, even when antibodies are produced from cells in test tubes, the live cells are typically grown using bovine serum. This serum is sourced from bovine fetuses by puncturing their hearts with a needle, a procedure that is completed without anesthesia of any kind.

Fortunately, the PCRM's new method for ELISA does not involve either of the above stated methods. Mice and cattle, feel free to breath a big sigh of relief. I suppose us humans can as well, because this new method not only presents ethical advantages, but growing cells without animal serum ensures that fewer variables are present in experiments.

Keeping your mind as fit as your heart

Filed under:

Imagine being in the world famous Gold's Gym in Venice Beach, California, where the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger once trained. Now, imagine entering an entirely different fitness center, one that Einstein himself may have frequented if he were alive today. Keeping our bodies fit is important, but there is a new gym that is very serious when they talk about TOTAL body fitness. It's called SharpBrains, and it's doors (virtual as they may be) are open for business.

SharpBrains has launched the first online brain fitness center, making it the ideal place for people to keep their minds as fit as they are keeping the rest of their bodies. Complete with an array of science-based mental exercises, brain trainers, interactive blog posts, and problem solving puzzles, SharpBrains is the mental equivalent of that very same Gold's Gym in Venice Beach.

Specific mental exercises are designed and tailored to meet each member's needs. You can even target-train; improve memory, better concentration, work on stress management, build decision making skills -- just as you could specialize a cardio or resistance training workout.

And, just like a regular gym, you must become a member of SharpBrains online gym. As is the case when working the rest of your body, best results can be achieved at ShaprBrains.com by spending at least 30 minutes per day, three times per week at the "gym."

Check it out for yourself here: www.sharpbrains.com

The power of positive thinking

Filed under:

The mind/body connection is something that has been under great debate for millennia. How does a person's mental state affect their physical self? Terms like psychosomatic have emerged as medical justifications for the mind's seeming ability to have direct consequence on the body. In keeping with that discourse, researchers from the Medical School Hannover in Hannover, Germany have found evidence to suggest that there is, in fact, a mind/body link -- particularly when it comes to the psychological effects of heart surgery.

In an article recently published in the journal Congenital Heart Disease, the researchers posit that a patient's perception of illness and conviction for recovery is of great import. Quoting Dr. Kambiz Norozi, M.D., lead author of the article, "Patient's subjective appraisals of the severity of the disease and to what degree the operated heart may be depended on are potentially important determinants of psychological state." Moreover, based on the research, it seems equally important that patients' maintain a positive perception of their overall recovery.

Test for congenital heart disease used immediately

Filed under:

The application of research into actual everyday practice is typically something that takes years to happen. Scientific findings are tested, re-tested, scrutinized, re-scrutinized, etc. But, a new diagnostic test to predict heart failure has gone into immediate clinical practice. This new test, which can help doctors evaluate cardiac function, looks for B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) in patients, thereby giving doctors diagnose and treat congestive heart failure.

Published as an article in the February 2007 issue of Harvard Men's Health Watch, the information contained therein highlights the family of hormones to which BNP belongs, usually called natriuretic peptides. These particular type of peptides are the heart's natural line of defense that blocks stress, and also plays a crucial role in promoting proper circulation. They also lower blood pressure, promote urine excretion, relax blood vessels, and reduce the heart's workload. All in all, these peptides are a very good thing to have working.

What the doctors discovered during their most recent study of BNP is that an overload of this peptide in the blood stream could signal the early stages of congestive heart failure. This is because when people have congestive heart failure, they are often unable to pump blood efficiently, causing the heart chambers to swell with blood. As the heart cells are pushed past their normal size by the swelling, they produce extra BNP.

Scientists are now looking into the possible role of BNP in coronary artery disease. If a link is found, it will be interesting to find out if a related diagnostic test will be utilized as immediately as the test for congestive heart failure has been.

Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Heart disease data may not be gender-specific

Filed under: , ,

We've all heard the expression: There are lies, damn lies, and statistics. I always do my best to remember these very words as I research articles for this blog. As I've pointed out several times, there seems to be a great deal of contradictory information circulating the research field, lending credibility to the aforesaid statement regarding statistics. Understandably, research methods, treatment models, and everything else in between can be the cause of the paucity of irrefutable evidence these days. But, there's sim ply no excuse for overlooking something as simple as dividing test results by gender. Now being quite honest, I'm not really all up in arms about the whole thing. The Mayo Clinic, however, seems a bit ticked.

According to their own study, the Mayo Clinic determined that it is very rare that researchers will produce a sex-based analysis of their findings. In a review of 64 cardiovascular clinic trials published from July 1 through December 31, 2004, only 153 of the publications provided sex-specific reporting. This is especially dangerous when dealing with diseases that tend to affect one sex more than the other, which is the case with heart disease. Being the number one threat to a woman's health, it is imperative that they know whether published data is skewed in any way by gender involvement.

The researchers from the Mayo Clinic suggest that when female patients are recommended a certain treatment or test, they should ask whether women were included in the research. And, if so (and if known), what percentage of the sample group did they represent.

Tool to detect depression in cancer patients

Filed under: , ,

Physicians now have a tool that can diagnose depression in cancer patients. Patients sometimes will need additional treatment to enable them to cope with their cancer more effectively.

The problem has been that doctors might have a hard time telling what patients actually have clinical depression. The patient may be just showing normal signs of sadness, feelings which commonly result from being diagnosed with cancer.

A team from the University of Liverpool's Division of Primary Care has created this method of testing called Brief Edinburgh Depression Scale (BEDS). What this test does is assess the cancer patient's mental condition with a six-step scale. The test includes questions on worthlessness, guilt and suicidal thoughts.

Professor Mari Lloyd-Williams, lead researcher says "The effects of depression can be as difficult to cope with as the physical symptoms of a terminal illness such as cancer. Patients often feel useless, that they are to blame, and even experience suicidal thoughts during cancer - these are all signs of depression but rarely elicited."

The clinical trial that was conducted included 246 patients with advanced cancer. Twenty-five percent of those patients were shown to have depression that had previously not been diagnosed.

National Cancer Institute risks budget cuts -- again

Filed under: , , ,

National Cancer Institute director John Neiderhuber worries the NCI 2007 budget could be slashed by five to 10 percent. And he worries that key cancer research will inevitably come to a halt as a result.

Worries stem from budget cuts proposed by President Bush. Cuts would cost the NCI between $36 million and $4.7 billion -- but Bush reports that NCI funding has doubled in the past 10 years and would still remain relatively high. And due to the recent American C ancer Society announcement that cancer deaths dropped for the second straight year, White House spokesman Tony Fratto says, "We're proud of the significant investment that we have made in cancer research. We're also proud of the results showing that researchers are delivering on that investment."

But researchers still worry. They worry cuts will undermine their successes. They feel like the rug is being pulled out from under them, just as they are making significant progress. They suspect 95 clinical trials could be postponed or cancelled, 3,000 patients could miss the opportunity of joining a trial, and some cancers will be completely eliminated from studies.

"There is a real cost in human life," says Allen Lichter, executive vice president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, of the more-than-monetary toll budget cuts will take on NCI research efforts.

One study already on hold, pending funding decisions, is the next phase of a stu dy evaluating whether a class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors, can prevent breast cancer. Another research group has opted to stop studying brain tumors. This is a huge loss to patients with this type of cancer, says Lichter.

It's a huge loss to all of us really -- because cancer will affect each of us in some way, some day. And so with cut budgets come cut hopes, cut dreams, and sadly -- cut survival.

Women skipping cervical screenings risk cancer

Filed under: , ,

Women in England are not showing up for their annual pap tests. And their absence from this critical screening opportunity is increasing their risk of cervical cancer -- a cancer that is curable if detected early.

New figures reveal that 660,000 women between the ages of 25 and 29 are invited for screening in England. Nearly 80 percent of these women accepted their invitations and reported for their tests in 1995 -- but only 69.4 percent did so last year. Women aged 30 to 34 are also down in attendance -- by about 800 women pe r week. Essentially, this means about 2,000 women each year who have pre-cancerous cells are missing the chance for early detection and diagnosis.

The Department of Health, now investigating the falling figures, attributes the decline to perhaps a not-so-successful screening program, discomfort about the procedure, or fear that the experience will be embarrassing.

Spunky journalist loses her battle with inflammatory breast cancer

Filed under: , , ,

Molly Ivins (born August 30, 1944 -died January 31, 2007),an American political commentator, journalist, and author based in Austin, Texas. She was a syndicated columnist with nationwide distribution; her column appeared in nearly 400 newspapers across the United States.

Her articles have appeared in 'Esquire', 'The Atlantic Monthly', 'The Nation', 'Harper's', 'The Progressive', 'The Progressive Populist', and 'Mother Jones'. She has been a commentator for 'NPR', 'The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer', and '60 Minutes'.

In 1999, Ivins was diagnosed with stage III inflammatory breast cancer. Joking about it, she said:

'One of the things I said was that I had been in great hopes I would become a better person as a result of confronting my own mortality, but it actually never happened. I didn't become a better person.'

I wanted to share something Molly wrote about her breast cancer journey.

Who Needs Breasts, Anyway?

by Molly Ivins

Having breast cancer is massive amounts of no fun. First they mutilate you; then they poison you; then they burn you. I have been on blind dates better than that.

One of the first things you notice is that people treat you differently when they know you have it. The hushed tone in which they inquire, "How are you?" is unnerving. If I had answered honestly during 90% of the nine months I spent in treatment, I would have said, "If it weren't for being constipated, I'd be fine." In fact, even chemotherapy is not nearly as hard as it once was, although it still made all my hair fall out.

My late friend Jocelyn Gray found the ultimate proof that there is no justice:

"Not just my hair, but my eyebrows, my eyelashes-every hair on my body has fallen out, except for these goddam little mustaches at the corner of my mouth I have always hated."

Another thing you get as a cancer patient is a lot of football-coach patter. "You can beat this; you can win; you're strong; you're tough; get psyched." I suspect that cancer doesn't give a rat's ass whether you have a positive mental attitude. It just sits in there multiplying away, whether you are admirably stoic or weeping and wailing. The only reason to have a positive mental attitude is that it makes life better. It doesn't cure cancer.

My friend Judy Curtis demanded totally uncritical support from everyone around her. "I smoked and drank through the whole thing," she says. "And I hated the lady from the American Cancer Society." My role model.

The late Alice Trillin wrote some brilliant essays on being a cancer patient, and I found her theory of "the good student" especially helpful. When you are not doing well at cancer-barfing and getting bad blood tests and generally not sailing through the whole thing with grace and panache-you have a tendency to think, Help, I'm flunking cancer, as though it were your fault. Your doctor also tends to look at you as though he is disappointed. Especially if you start to die on him.

You don't get through this without friends. Use them. Call them, especially other women who have been through it. People like to help. They like to be able to do something for you. Let them. You will also get sick of talking about cancer. One way to hold down the solicitous calls is to give your friends a regular update by e-mail, if you have it.

If you work, I recommend that you keep right on doing so (unless you hate your job). Most companies are quite good about giving you time off when you need it, and working keeps you from sitting around and worrying.

Losing a part of a breast or all of one or both has, obviously, serious psychological consequences. Your self-image, your sense of yourself as a woman, your sense of your sexual attractiveness are going to be rocked whether or not you have enough sense to realize that tits aren't that important.

I am one of those people who are out of touch with their emotions. I tend to treat my emotions like unpleasant relatives-a long-distance call once or twice or year is more than enough. If I got in touch with them, they might come to stay.

My friend Mercedes Pena made me get in touch with my emotions just before I had a breast cut off. Just as I suspected, they were awful. "How do you Latinas do this-all the time in touch with your emotions?" I asked her. "That's why we take siestas," she replied.

As a final indignity, I have just flunked breast reconstruction. Bad enough that I went through all that pain for the sake of vanity, but then I got a massive infection and had to have both implants taken out.

I'm embarrassed about it, although my chief cancer mentor, Marlyn Schwartz (who went to the Palm for lunch after every chemo session), has forbidden this particular emotion. So now I'm just a happy, flat-chested woman.

Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Passive workplace smoking fuels lung cancer

Filed under: , , ,

Secondhand smoke rears its ugly head once again -- this time in the form of study results revealing high levels of secondhand smoke in the workplace can double the risk of lung cancer for non-smokers.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago looked at results from 22 studies conducted in the United States, Canada, Europe, India, Japan, and China. What they found -- and published in the American Journal of Public Health -- is a lung cancer risk 50 p ercent higher than normal for non-smokers exposed to smoke on the job for more than 30 years. They also found risk increases with level of exposure.

"We believe that our study provides the strongest evidence to date that smoking in the workplace does present a substantial risk to workers -- and particularly to workers who are working in highly exposed areas such as bar workers or restaurant workers," lead researcher Leslie Stayner said.

Previous evidence for increased lung cancer risk caused by secondhand smoke comes from studies of non-smokers married to smokers.

Secondhand smoke -- also known as passive smoke and environmental tobacco smoke -- is smoke from a cigarette, pipe, or cigar as well as smoke exhaled from the lungs of smokers and inhaled by non-smokers. It can cause cancer, respiratory problems, and asthma in non-smokers and is leading to increased efforts by communities to ban or limit smoking in the workplace.

This we ek in France, bans begin in offices, stores, schools, and hospitals. Come January 2008, cafes and restaurants must also comply with bans. For now, smoking in these areas is permitted in hermetically sealed rooms without any services.

Sunshine in the forecast for skin cancer prevention

Filed under: , ,

Way back in my sun worshipping days -- when I longed for a golden tan, logged countless hours scorching my body, and ignored my grandma's warnings that my pale skin was just not tough enough for the sun's powerful rays -- I would have basked in joy over headlines now surfacing in the media. They go something like this: the sun may actually fight skin cancer instead of causing it.

According to a team of scientists at the University of New Mexico's Cancer Research and Treatment Center, a little bit of ultraviolet B light is enough to stimulate a vitamin D immune response in the skin -- but it's not enough to boost skin cancer risk.

It's still true that sunlight is the main cause of skin cancer. But limiting exposure is the key to preventing the disease -- and for promoting bone health and perhaps preventing colon cancer too.

Researchers, whose findings are published in the March issue of
Nature Immunology, suggest staying out of the sun for now -- because they don't yet know what constitutes a little bit when it comes to UVB rays.

Doctor diagnosed with disease that grew his career

Filed under:

One of my cancer doctors has cancer. I'm not sure why this surprises me -- it seems many people I know develop the disease in some form or another -- but it does surprise me. And I can't stop thinking about it.

It seems a cruel twist of fate for this man -- a well-known and respected cancer surgeon -- to suffer a blow from this disease after spending his entire life saving others from it. And so it's shocking to know he is now walking in the footprints of those for which he has cared, to know he is now undergoing treatment, to know his life will sprout in directions he may have never imagined.

I sent this kind man an e-mail today to let him know I am thinking about him. And I told him I hope he finds himself i n the hands of people who are skilled and talented and loving -- just like him. Because it is no small thing that I am alive today. And I thank him for that.
Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Researchers search for root of pancreatic cancer stem cells

Filed under: , ,

Researchers have made a stem cell discovery that may help treat pancreatic cancer -- one of the deadliest forms of the disease.

University of Michigan scientists have found cancer stem cells in pancreatic tumors that appear to drive cell tumor growth and could lead to the development of drugs to target and kill these cells.

Pancreatic cancer kills 97 percent of people diagnosed with the disease within five years. Half of all diagnosed patients die within six months of diagnosis, and this cancer -- that spreads quickly and is rarely detected at an early state -- kills 33,000 each year in the United States alone. So any improvement in the study of this disease is a true gift.

"The clinical implications of this work are significant," said Dr. Diane Simeone, director of the Gastrointestinal Oncology Program at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Centre and lead author of the study, published in the journal Cancer Research.

"We've made baby steps in improving the survival in these patients -- on the order of a few months (longer to live) -- over the past decade or so. But we really haven't had a major breakthrough in coming up with something that has the potential to provide a cure," she said.

Simeone says killing these cancer stem cells is like pulling out the root of a weed. And she says the best way to pull out the root is to target these stem cells instead of the traditional approach of shrinking tumors by killing as many cells as possible -- an approach that may be flawed because cancer stem cells tend to resist standard therapies.

Wednesday, 31 January 2007

New Pill Could be Better than Byetta

Filed under: , , ,

A small molecule has been identified that controls diabetes in mice and may pave the way to the development of easier treatment for adult-onset diabetes.

This key molecule, called Boc5, can stimulate insulin function and reduce body weight by 20%. The molecule stimulates the production of the glucagon-like peptide1 (GLP1), responsible for metabolizing glucose. The study intended to discover ways to sensitize insulin by stimulating production of GLP1. Boc5 is not powerful enough to become a diabetes or weight loss drug. But researchers suggest that similar compounds could join the latest generation of diabetes drugs, called "incretin mimetics." The first FDA-approved incretin mimetic was Byetta. A second such drug, with the generic name liraglutide, is in clinical trials.

The problem with the existing FDA approved incretin mimetic treatments is that they are large molecules that must be administered through injection. Boc5 is a small fry with big potential. Being a smaller molecule gives hope for a new generation in diabetes treatment in the form of a pill many of us would be happy to swallow.

Chromium Improves Glycemic Control

Filed under: , , ,

Chromium picolinate is one of the most widely debated supplements in diabetes health. A study has shown that it improves glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes not adequately controlled while taking sulfonylurea, a drug that increases insulin release from the beta cells in the pancreas.

A 40-week study was designed to examine the effect of adding daily chromium picolinate supplementation to an antidiabetic medication, sulfonylurea. A commonly prescribed treatment for type 2 diabetes was given to 29 subjects for 24 weeks, in conjunction with either chromium picolinate or a placebo. Blood sugar levels of study participants taking chromium picolinate dropped significantly compared to the placebo group. In addition, insulin sensitivity for participants taking the chromium picolinate was increased when compared to those in the placebo group. Study participants taking chromium picolinate also experienced significantly lower abdominal body fat accumulation than the placebo group, and experienced less overall weight gain.

This study demonstrates that chromium picolinate supplementation for type 2 diabetes who are taking sulfonylurea agents significantly improves insulin sensitivity and glucose control. In addition, chromium picolinate was shown to reduce weight gain and fat accumulation compared with the placebo group. The results of this study were first published in August 2006 - but knowing about chromium picolinate today leaves you with ample time to adjust for greater insulin sensitivity and less fattening days to come!

Ignoring the elephant in the room: the Western diet

Filed under: , ,

Here's a question for you to ponder: we know that obesity/overeating is harmful to the body, right? It leads to Type 2 diabetes, among a myriad of other harmful effects. So why do we continue to eat the way we do? Author and academic (at the University of California, Berkeley) Michael Pollan has taken a valiant stab at answering that question. Pollan is the author of the well-received book The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. I have not read the book (though I'm adding it to my list of books to read in 2007), but I did read Pollan's fab article "Unhappy Meals" in this weekend's New York Times. Our obesity problem, says Pollan, is all tied up with a national hangup about eating and nutrition.

The "elephant in the room," writes Pollan, is the Western way of eating. To be healthier and to avoid diseases like Type 2 diabetes, we should cut consumption of meat and carbs, avoid processed foods, and eat lots more fruits and vegetables. In the case of Type 2 diabetes, the nation needs to stop, in the word's of a scientist quoted by Pollan, "mainlining glucose." And yet...it doesn't ha ppen. Instead, Americans subscribe to fad diets, they invest in expensive exercise equipment and gym memberships. Moreover, says Pollan, Americans are beset by "nutritionism." That is, we try to prevent obesity and diet-related diseases like diabetes by identifying and eliminating the harmful substances in our foods - like salt, fat or carbs - when what we need is to totally modify our diets. He (politely) places a lot of the blame for this on scientists and the media for supplying us with a constant stream of nutrition-related advice that's so confusing and contradictory and seemingly-important that we keep forgetting about that big old "elephant" - the Western diet as a whole. This focus, he says, "has diminished our pleasure in eating it while doing little or nothing to improve our health." It's a conundrum alright.

Woman claims drug caused breast cancer, wins $1 million

Filed under: , , ,

An Arkansas woman claiming the hormone replacement drug Prempro caused her breast cancer just won her legal battle against Wyeth, the maker of the drug.

Mary Daniel was awarded $1 million in compensatory damages thanks to a Philadelphia jury decision stating Wyeth acted with malice or reckless disregard for selling Prempro -- the drug Daniels took for 16 months to relieve hot flashes. The next step for Daniels, whose husband will receive $500 ,000, is a hearing to consider punitive damages.

Wyeth's lawyer argues that Prempro -- a combination of estrogen and progestin -- is still prescribed to women and suggests Daniel's breast cancer was caused by other risk factors, such as family history of the disease.

Mind games help clear fog left from chemotherapy

Filed under: , ,

As evidence mounts, it's becoming more and more clear that chemo brain, a mental fogginess that can result from chemotherapy, is a real concern and not just a convenient excuse cancer patients use to explain away their flighty and forgetful tendencies. It seems the brain really can suffer cognitive damage from the poisonous drugs that fight off deadly cancer cells. And sometimes, this damage is present years after treatment.

Add to chemo brain the normal aging process as well as brain conditions such as mild cognitive impairment and even schizophrenia and the brain might not stand a chance of ever remembering anything. Unless we buy into the new concept of mental training -- somewhat like physical fitness training -- in which case we may be able to bring back a level of sharpness to our lives.

Research suggests this type of training may delay mental decline. And Betty Hall, 85, who is taking a brain fitness class at her senior living complex in Illinois, says brain-enhancing activities are definitely helping her.

Hall is participating in an eight-week program where she spends one hour per day, five days per week using a computer to match words and listen for details in stories. She says it's helping her remember where she places her keys and her grocery lists -- and it's even helping her in her bridge club.

"I've won four times out of the last five at bridge club, and I think the players are going to shoot me because I keep remembering the cards people have," she said. "It's much easier for me to concentrate . . . and I brag about it everywhere I go."

One clinical professor of neurology says brain health programs will explode over the next few years because of the stunning findings on this front. One study shows relatively short training regimens, lasting just five or six weeks, improve functioning for as long as five years. And booster sessions help advance these gains. Study participants says their everyday tasks, like managing finances, are much easier after mental workouts. Another study of the computer software Hall uses shows the program shaves an average 10 years off the mental age of users.

Not all mental training is alike, and different cognitive difficulties may call for different training protocols. But the simple fact that I can work out my brain like I can work out my body gives me hope that I can possibly reverse the effects of chemotherapy on my own foggy brain, that I c an one day not worry anymore that I might find my check book in the refrigerator and my cell phone in my sock drawer. Bring on the workouts!


Thanks to Bev, my brainy friend, for this story tip!

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Protein in the Brain Regulates Obesity

Filed under: , ,

Scientists have found that mice lacking a protein known as SH2B1 throughout their body are obese and ultimately develop diabetes. Researchers replaced SH2B1 in the brain of obese mice and it seemed to deter the onset of obesity. The study reveals that targeting SH2B1 in the brain might be a new avenue of treatments for obesity and type 2 diabetes.

SH2B1 is expressed in tissues related to obesity, including the brain, liver, pancreas, and fat tissue. Replacing SH2B1 in the brain of mice lacking SH2B1 prevented the mice from becoming obese. It also prevented the mice from developing obesity after being fed a high-fat diet, indicating that SH2B1 in the brain is required to regulate body weight and fat content.

This study implies that SH2B1 in the brain is a practical target for the development of new drugs to treat obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Pomegranate Helps Diabetic Hearts

Filed under: , , , , ,

Pomegranate juice was shown to reduce the risk of arthrosclerosis in diabetics who participated in a study conducted over three months. The pomegranate juice also appeared to slow the absorption of unhealthy LDL cholesterol by immune cells.

People with diabetes have increased risk for atherosclerosis, contributing to coronary heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, and other circulation problems. The results of this study suggest that the antioxidants found in pomegranate juice may be beneficial in reducing these heart-related risks associated with diabetes. The sugars in pomegranate juice are attached to unique antioxidants, which actually make these sugars protective against atherosclerosis. Researchers examined the effects of drinking a concentrated pomegranate juice that is the equivalent to about a 6-ounce glass of freshly squeezed pomegranate juice for three months in 10 healthy adults and 10 adults with type 2 diabetes (who were not dependent on insulin therapy). Drinking pomegranate juice did not affect overall cholesterol levels, but researchers found it reduced the uptake of LDL (bad) cholesterol by immune cells, which is a major contributing factor to atherosclerosis.

Albeit a little tart, the reputation of the pomegranate falls heavily on the sweet side. One pomegranate delivers 40% of an adult's daily vitamin C requirement. Food manufacturers' favor using pomegranate extracts instead of the juice because it contains no sugar, calories, or additives. Factor in the folic acid, the free-radical destroying antioxidants, and the overall health benefits of the Chinese apple and ask your arteries if it's worth a 6 ounce glass. I'm guessing the answer is yes.

McDonald's announces their kinder, gentler French fry

Filed under: , ,

Mickey-D's goes low-fat. Well, sort of. Let's call McDonald's announcement that they will be removing trans fat from their foods a step in the right direction. Calling it low-fat may be a stretch. Still, the restaurant chain is moving toward utilizing a new canola/soy based oil to cook their fries and other fried foods, which at least eliminates those pesky trans fats (and also places McDonald's in the safe zone come July 1st, the date that New York City lawmakers have listed as the cut-off for restaurants to be trans fat free).

It appears as though the big concern held by the public -- and, consequently, by McDonald's executives -- was the taste. How are those fries going to taste after being cooked in the new oil? That was the big question. Well, according to a McDonald's rep, the taste tests held thus far have produced promising results. So, for those of you who have a soft spot for those golden fries, it seems that they are not only free of artery clogging trans fat, but they also taste as good as they did before.

The trans fat removal was a good move for McDonald's, especially since fast food competitors Wendy's, Taco Bell and KFC have already done so. In fact, so has Starbucks. The belief is that there will soon be a nationwide ban of trans fat (as their should be), so it's good business for these mega-franchises to start preparing for the change now.

Obese, poor breast cancer patients shorted on chemo doses

Filed under: , , , ,

This year alone, 215,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. And sadly, not all of them will be treated equally.

Researchers reported last Tuesday that breast cancer patients who are either obese or poor are more likely to receive lower doses of chemotherapy. This might be why some women relapse and others do not, according to the researchers whose findings appear in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

This treatment discrepancy seems to stem from doctors who mean well and want to save certain women from severe side effects of chemotherapy. Doctors may be under-dosing obese patients, for example, because a larger dose based on weight could lead to worse side effects. There is no evidence this is true, however.

As for socioeconomic status, researchers report doctors are assuming less-educated patients won't stick with a tough course of treatment -- and so they prescribe less, in hopes patients will complete the regimen.

Researchers found that severely obese women were four times more likely to get less chemotherapy than they need. Women with less than a high school education were three times more likely to receive low doses of chemotherapy. And women living in the South were almost six times more likely to come up short on the drugs they need to save their lives.

"We have new therapies and c ures out there for many forms of cancer and sadly, sometimes we're not curing people because they are not getting the full doses that should be standard," says Dr. Gary Lyman who led the study at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York.

Radioactive cancer patients trigger security alarms

Filed under: , ,

Radioactive cancer patients attending this weekend's Super Bowl in Miami could be in for an alarming experience when they pass through radiation detectors designed to signal the presence of dirty bombs. Such cancer patients -- who have received treatment using radioisotopes and still may have tiny amounts of radioactive material in their bodies -- may want to come armed with letters from their doctors explaining their precarious set of circumstances.

The use of radioisotopes in medicine is growing -- and so is the use of radiation detectors in our sec urity-conscious nation, which means patients are triggering alarms when they are not even aware they are being scanned, doctors and security officials say.

Nearly 60,000 people a day in the United States undergo treatment or tests that leave traces of radioactive material in their bodies, according to the Society of Nuclear Medicine. These traces are not enough to hurt anyone, but they are enough to trigger radiation alarms for up to three months.

Radioisotopes are commonly used to diagnose and treat certain cancers and thyroid disorders, to analyze heart function, and to scan bones and lungs. And many doctors already know to equip their patients with travel cards because of the problems they can encounter in public places.

Nearly 20 million nuclear medical procedures were performed in the United States in 2005 -- up 15 percent from 2001. Clearly, the number of people who could be mistaken for terrorists is quite large. So if you are one of these people -- with the power to create a buzz in a public setting -- get your papers in order so you can quickly confirm your identity as nothing more than a cancer patient.

Share your Heart Fundraiser for Valentine's day

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Peter Augustini's wife Jodi is fighting Stage IV breast cancer. They have three children, Charles, 10, Caroline, 7 an d Max, 2.

Augustini is organizing a fundraiser to benefit the research Dana Farber Cancer Institute is using to help his wife fight breast cancer. He wanted to help Jodi and others fighting her type of aggressive breast cancer, referred to as Her-2 positive breast cancer.

Augustini decided to take on a holiday, Valentines day, that some people seem to think is a commercially contrived holiday. Augustini says "This is the chance to do something meaningful".

You can purchase a three inch wooden heart for your Valentine via the Share your Heart Fundraiser. The proceeds will benefit a fund specifically set up to fund research into a cure for Her-2 neu form of breast cancer. The research involves work on a drug called herceptin, which is attracted to specific proteins found only in cancer cells in the body.

The hearts are $5 each. You can also purchase a package of 10 for $20 and a package of 25 for $40. The hearts come unpainted and ready to decorate.

Share Your Heart Valentines are available for order vial the Dale, Wheelock and Memorial School Web sites, www.medfield.net or by e-mail to augustini@cera.com and friendw@verizon.net.

Monday, 29 January 2007

Common Sweetener Explodes Internally

Filed under: , , , , , ,

Shane Ellison, an organic chemist known as the people's chemist, warns the public about a popular sweetener. He bravely hypothesizes that a commonly used sweetener may "explode internally". He uses this term to describe the potential to damage many parts of the body such as our genetic map known as DNA - deoxyribonucleic acid.

Manufacturers of the popular sweetener were furious over his accusation. They claim that the information included in Shane's article contains many inaccuracies and false information. They asked him to discontinue any further dissemination of these false and damaging statements. They continued by saying that if he fails to take these actions promptly, that they would consider the need for further legal action. Undeterred by such threats, Shane asserts that he is entitled to his own "hypothesis." Readers should understand that he is making no definitive statements. Instead, he is expressing his grave concern over this drug disguised as a sweetener. He feels that consumers have a right to know the whole story behind what may be a very dangerous scam in the artificial sweetener business - or not.

Shane holds a master's degree in organic chemistry. He is internationally recognized as an authority on therapeutic nutrition. Check out his life saving health briefs and natural cures to see for yourself if he's crying wolf or if he's got a scientific leg to stand on.

Algae found on seaweed might protect against skin cancer

Filed under: , ,

A type of brown marine seaweed contains brown algae called poly-phenols (BAPs), that might protect against skin cancers caused by ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. UVB radiation in sunlight is thought to be responsible for most cases of non-melanoma skin cancers diagnosed in the United States.

Research has shown that BAPs are strong antioxidants and have many anti-cancer properties. The animals that were fed the brown algae in their diet had a reduction of skin tumors up to sixty percent.

The study was led by researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. "These compounds seemed to be dramatically effective at fairly low doses both orally and topically" says principal investigator Gary D Stoner.

Angelina Jolie loses mom Marcheline Bertrand to cancer

Angelina Jolie, who told CNN host Larry King on December 18 that her 56-year-old mother was battling ovarian cancer, is now confirming that her mother passed away on Saturday afternoon.

According to a new release, Angelina Jolie and brother James Haven were with their mom, actress Marcheline Bertrand, when she died this weekend at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. It is reported that Jolie's boyfriend, Brad Pitt, was at the hospital with Jolie and her brother.

Bertrand, divorced from Jolie's Oscar-winning actor father Jon Voight and primary caretaker of her children, had small roles in the movies Lookin' to Get Out in 1982 and The Man Who Loved Women in 1983.

A private funeral is planned -- and the family asks that donations be made to the Women's Cancer Research Institute at Cedars-Sinai.

Cancer hits like a brick wall, takes life of courageous man

Filed under: , , , ,

I just finished reading the words of Mark Raymond Clements -- and the words of his wife, Marianne, written when Mark was too ill to comment. I am overcome and overwhelmed with emotion because each string of sentences filling the pages of the Clements family homepage has touched me, inspired me, and saddened me all at the same time.

Clem ents was diagnosed in October 2005 with cholangiocarcinoma, a rare cancer of the bile duct normally found in people in their 70s.

"There is no known cure," writes Clements. "It does not respond well to chemotherapy. It is fast moving."

And fast moving it was. Surgery -- rarely a good option for this cancer -- was attempted but without success.

"After they opened him up, they discovered that the cancer had just spread too far," Marianne writes. "They closed him back up."

Chemotherapy came next and while there were some hopeful moments -- "overall distribution of the disease has decreased" -- the overwhelming course of Clement's disease continued on a fast track. And by June 2006, Clements realized, "the cruel reality of CANCER hits like a brick wall," when a CT scan revealed the presence of as many as 20 new tumors in his liver.

The Clements family never abandoned hope an d were steadfast in their faith as cancer continued to dominate their lives. In October -- one year after diagnosis -- when Marianne believed doctors were sending a let's make you as comfortable as we can message, the family began pursuing alternative methods. But by December, when it had become clear treatment of any kind would no longer help, Mark Clements was welcomed by the loving arms of hospice -- where he remained until he passed away on January, 19, 2007. He was 40 years old.

On the very day of her husband's death, Marianne writes, "I know I am not alone in feeling complete anguish at this time. I know it will lessen over time. I know I will not understand 'why' until I'm with him again, but what I do know is that Mark loved me. He loved his children. He loved his family and friends. He will be waiting for me with our loving Father in Heaven. And we will be together again. Our Father in Heaven is aware of our pain and will comfort us still as he h as through this past year."

And these are just some of the words that have has touched me, inspired me, and saddened me all at the same time.

Sunday, 28 January 2007

The Key to Outliving Diabetes

Filed under: , , , , , ,

Many of us fear what we do not know, which could be why the diagnosis of diabetes is so harrowing. Fear no more. Amy Tenderich has teamed up with Dr. Richard Jackson, MD of the Joslin Diabetes Center to shed some light on the heaps of material we must digest to control our diabetes. Amy and Dr. Jackson have simply explained it all in Know Your Numbers, Outlive Your Diabetes: 5 Essential Health Factors You Can Master to Enjoy a Long and Healthy Life (Marlowe Diabetes Library).

The book is a priceless addition to any diabetic library. It begins by explaining the five tests that are the cornerstones for monitoring your overall health with diabetes. These tests are: A1c, blood pressure, lipids, microalbumin, and an annual eye exam. You may think you know it all because you've been there, done that. But do you really know - what it tests, why it's done, and what your numbers should look like. After you learn what those tests mean to you and your health - Amy and Dr. Jackson help you develop a plan of action. They build a road, paved with easy to understand (and explained remarkably well) information about nutrition, medicine, organic treatments, support, and specialized shopping sites for diabetes.

I was impressed beyond my expectations. Knowing the award winning caliber of work Amy produces, and the integrity of Dr. Jackson's work with Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical - I was looking for a good guidebook on diabetes care. No ma'am. This book is AWESOME! I knew it would be good, Amy. You've outdone yourself, once again. I hope this book motivates everyone who reads it to know their numbers and outlive their diabetes. And when it does - remember us little people, ok? Thanks a million, Amy!

Brit kids save diabetic dad in swimming pool incident

Filed under: ,

Awww. Call me a sap, but I love these heart-warming rescue stories. A couple of British kids saved their diabetic dad recently from drowning. The man, Martin Limon (41), has diabetes and suffered a seizure while in a swimming pool. Talk about your bad timing. But wait! He had some good luck: his nine-year-old son saw him in time as he was sinking. The boy and his ten-year-old sister together dragged dad up to the surface of the water and held his head up until a lifeguard came to the rescue. They also helped emergency personnel treat their dad by telling them what he had had to eat for breakfast that day and what his blood sugar level had been. Said dad Martin, "I had been in the pool about five minutes when I started to feel a bit strange. I thought I would be okay but the next thing I remember is waking up in the ambulance." Now he's super-proud of his kids: "I know everybody thinks their kids are great, but what they did was fantastic."

Now, someone probably would have saved this guy from drowning, kids or no kids. I mean, he was at a public swimming pool. There were other swimmers around as well as trained lifeguards and other pool employees. But it's still great that his kids reacted so quickly and appropriately. It must be absolutely terrifying for a little kid to see their dad going under the water like that. So it's cool that they did not panic and knew what to do.

Check out this adorable family photo, which I found posted on the Daily Mail's website.

Prolific professor receives Texas honors for diabetes research

Filed under: , , ,

And the award goes to...Dr. Steven Haffner. You probably haven't heard of Dr. Haffner (pictured), but he's one of those hard-working researchers whose work has contributed to our understanding of diabetes. Specifically, Haffner has helped point us in a new direction when it comes to combating Type 2 diabetes. His work has helped demonstrate that diet and exercise can delay or even prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes. Notably, a 2001 study in which he was the lead researcher, showed that even modest weight loss and exercise cut T2 risk by fifty-eight percent in at-risk folks. Why is this so important? It means that even if you've been diagnosed with T2 diabetes, even if you're at risk for it, and the state of your health is poor, you can still help yourself through lifestyle change. Studies like this have showed that it's never too late for T2 diabetics.

Haffner, who is an epidemiologist by trade, got the nod of approval and a big thank you on Thursday from his home base institution - the University of Texas. The school has named him 2007 Presidential Distinguished Scholar at the University of Texas Health Science Center. The award comes with a $5,000 stipend. It honors those who have attained excellence in research in their particular field. He is currently looking into the effectiveness of behavioral interventions in cutting heart disease risk in Type 2 diabetics.

All very nice. But here's what caught my eye about the good Dr. Haffner. He has published more than four hundred research papers in the course of his career. Four hundred! Makes you feel kinda lazy by comparison, huh? Darn high achievers. Pass the remote...

The insulin bong

Filed under: , , , ,

Think that big old Exubera inhaler (pictured) is sorta comical? You're definitely not alone. I was surfing around trying to get a clearer sense of how Pfizer's much-hyped inhalable insulin device is doing. Are users liking it? Is it really easy to use? Etcetera. But I got sidetracked into reading about that inhaler. It's big, it's plastic, it's b ulky. The insulin bong. Come on, admit it. You were thinking the same thing! Here are some of the choicest comments I came across:

Spotted on one message board: "As a pharmacist, my biggest problem with Exubera is that the delivery system looks not entirely dissimilar to a bong. I just don't see the conversation starter 'excuse me, I need to take a hit off of my insulin bong' to be a great opener."

On another board, one wag lists off what he/she considers Exubera's shortcomings. In addition to the fact that, yes, it looks like a bong, this reader also observes that diabetics "have to carry around enough bulky s**t as it is." Plus there's the fact that "Type II's can't afford it...unless they cut back on their food budget...but then they will lose weight...and they wouldn't need insulin."

On Diabetes Mine: the device "really is as bad as it looks in pictures. Worse, because the bulky 'white' plastic portions are not white at all, but that hospital-grade beige that reminds you of walkers and bedpans. An aesthetic nightmare, in the age of cool gadgetry...The funny thing was that the happy Exubera user in Pfizer's video must live in a city as tolerant or as jaded as San Francisco or New York, because not one patron even glanced over as he cocked and sucked on his medicinal bong."

Medical humor site QFever pokes fun at the device's arguably limited appeal with a satirical article describing how Exubera will be a practical alternative for "several diabetics." They missed a golden opportunity here by not zooming in on the inhaler for comedic mileage. What were they thinking?!

The final word goes to Drug Nazi (who I believe has now changed his moniker to Drug Monkey), who finds the Exubera inhaler reminds him of, er, something else entirely: "Oh Yeah...gimmie some of that sweet insulin lovin' baby..." (Oh, PS, if you visit this site, you have to read "Why does my prescription take so damn long to fill?) Happy inhaling.