Round-Up of Global News In Health and Complementary Medicine

Monthly Archive

Week Beginning 26 November 2001

The Antartctic Yields New Bacterial Species

In groundbreaking work in the Antarctic, researchers have discovered many new species of bacteria it was announced this week. The discovery has practical imprtance as well. It may now be possible to develop many more effective antibiotics at a time when world supplies of natural antibiotics are running low. Dr David Nichols, a researcher with the Cooperative Research Centre for Antarctica, commented: ‘Antarctic soils are obviously very isolated and they undergo a particular set of environmental conditions that has led to the development of quite a different community of micro-organisms. We are finding a high level of novel bacteria here and the probability of finding new antibiotics will be immeasurably enhanced.’ The majority of the bacteria discovered belong to the genus Actinomycetes, for which no fresh source has been found for about 15 years. The available mass-produced drugs to counter infections by this species have long been over-used resulting in a reduction in their effectiveness.

The Daily Express

Projected Increased Heart Deaths From Diabetes Epidemic

A new report jointly published this week by the British Heart Foundation (BHF)and Diabetes UK predicts a massive rise in heart disease deaths associated with diabetes. This report warns of the ‘diabetes time bomb,’ which will reverse the steady fall of heart disease deaths over the past 20 years. Experts believe that the number of diabetics will reach three million by 2010. Diabetic women are five times more likely than women without the condition to develop cardiovascular problems such as heart disease and strokes. For men the risk is three times higher.

Professor Sir Charles George, Medical Director of the BHF, expounded the importance of education and prevention, commenting, "The predicted doubling of diabetes by 2010 and the resulting rise in cardiovascular disease are not inevitable. We know how to prevent them".

In diabetes high glucose levels in the blood damage the arteries and raise cholesterol levels, therefore increasing the risk of heart diseases. Adoption of the triple prevention of regular exercise, following a low fat diet and not smoking could greatly reduce this risk.

The Daily Express

Obesity Linked To Body Type

There is more to obesity than first meets the eye it seems. At least according to the latest research. Researchers have discovered that obesity may be very closely linked to our body type, and not just by diet. In other words many of us are destined to be overweight come what may. The research carried out by the Cambridge Medical Research Council involved testing five obese and eight lean women in special body suits to measure their energy expenditure. All the women were given the same diet, but the heavier women converted the same amount of carbohydrates into fat twice as fast. When the women were given 50 per cent more calories than they needed, the rate of conversion increased to three times as fast for the obese women.

The Times

New Cancer Fighter Found In Soil

It’s amazing what you can find in soil, the Earth’s life giver. Now medical researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore have discovered a particular bacterium that will destroy cancer cells from the inside. Normally the bacterium produces a lethal toxin, but the team genetically-engineered the microbe to remove the toxic gene. The bacterium was then tested on laboratory mice along with conventional cancer drugs, in a combination therapy called Cobalt. The results of the experiment were ‘particularly promising’, as the tumours began to break up within 24 hours. After two weeks of treatment the cancer had gone altogether. The scientist behind the study, Dr Bert Vogelstein, admitted that much more work had to be done before Cobalt could be tested on humans. In particular, they would have to isolate the negative side effects of rapid tumour destruction.

The Daily Mail

Heart Aged By Cocaine Use

As cocaine use increases we can expect a parallel increase in deaths from heart disease at a younger age. This was the warning given by Professor John Henry, the director of emergency medicine at St Mary’s Hospital in London, to a select committee of MPs this week. And Professor Henry knows what he is talking about because his casualty department increasingly having to treat people with acute chest pains related to the use of the drug. Professor Henry added, "Cocaine puts a massive strain on the blood vessels in the heart, and as a result begins to prematurely age. We have seen people in their thirties with blood vessel problems you would not expect to see in people until they were in their 50s or 60s.’

The Daily Mail


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