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Monthly Archives: February 2014

New nutrition labels take a bite of reality

Americans are getting bigger, and so is the Food and Drug Administration’s Nutrition Facts label. Health-conscious First Lady Michelle Obama announced Thursday that the FDA is proposing some major changes to the nutrition labels that appear on packaged foods and beverages. It will be the labels’ first significant revamping since they were introduced more than 20 years ago.

So what’s in store at the store? The calorie counts would be in bigger, potentially scarier type. Serving sizes would be adjusted to reflect reality, and some recommended daily values for nutrients like sodium and dietary fiber could be tweaked for our own good.

“You as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf, and be able to tell whether it’s good for your family,” the First Lady said.

Can a spoonful of new information help our waistlines go down? Here’s a look at the light reading that has some heavy lifting to do.

Best Reality Check: Don’t you hate it when you get all excited about the friendly calorie count of, say, a Triple Chocolate Muffin the Size of Your Head, only to discover that the serving size is one-tenth of a muffin? The FDA hates that, too, which is why the proposed overhaul includes serving sizes that reflect the way real people really eat and drink.

“The main mistake people make is not looking at serving sizes,” said Misha Biden, a registered dietitian at the Scripps Clinic Center for Weight Management. “I don’t want serving sizes to increase and increase, but I think they need to more accurately […]

By |February 28th, 2014|blogs|0 Comments

Teen helps scientists study her own rare disease

WASHINGTON (AP) — First the teenager survived a rare cancer. Then she wanted to study it, spurring a study that helped scientists find a weird gene flaw that might play a role in how the tumor strikes.

Age 18 is pretty young to be listed as an author of a study in the prestigious journal Science. But the industrious high school student’s efforts are bringing new attention to this mysterious disease.

“It’s crazy that I’ve been able to do this,” said Elana Simon of New York City, describing her idea to study the extremely rare form of liver cancer that mostly hits adolescents and young adults.

Making that idea work required a lot of help from real scientists: Her father, who runs a cellular biophysics lab at the Rockefeller University; her surgeon at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; and gene specialists at the New York Genome Center. A second survivor of this cancer, who the journal said didn’t want to be identified, also co-authored the study.

Together, the team reported Thursday that they uncovered an oddity: A break in genetic material that left the “head” of one gene fused to the “body” of another. That results in an abnormal protein that forms inside the tumors but not in normal liver tissue, suggesting it might fuel cancer growth, the researchers wrote. They’ve found the evidence in all 15 of the tumors tested so far.

It’s a small study, and more research is needed to see what this gene flaw really does, cautioned Dr. Sanford Simon, the teen’s father […]

By |February 28th, 2014|blogs|0 Comments

New Nutrition Label Cheat Sheet

Cambodia vies for 1st Oscar with ‘Missing Picture’

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — The office of Cambodia’s most celebrated filmmaker is filled with books on the Khmer Rouge. On his desk, on the walls, in the filing cabinets and in every corner of Rithy Panh’s dimly lit office are memories of his country’s greatest tragedy.

By |February 27th, 2014|blogs|0 Comments

Investment chief of top U.S. pension fund Calpers dies after cancer

(Reuters) – The chief investment officer of Calpers, the largest pension fund in the United States, has died after a battle with cancer, his office said on Wednesday. He was 62.

Joe Dear, diagnosed with prostate cancer last year, had been on leave from the California Public Employees’ Retirement System since last month for treatment.

“It is with tremendous sadness that Calpers announces the passing of Joseph A. Dear, our Chief Investment Officer,” his office said in a statement.

Dear joined Calpers, California’s $282 billion pension fund for public employees, as CIO in March 2009 after the value of its assets had dropped to about $165 billion.

He had previously served as executive director of the Washington State Investment Board.

Calpers said in June that Dear had been diagnosed with cancer and had begun treatment. He returned to work full-time in December before going on leave in January to resume treatment.

Ted Eliopoulos, senior investment officer for real assets at Calpers, had served as acting CIO during Dear’s absence.

(Reporting by Barani Krishnan; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

By |February 27th, 2014|blogs|0 Comments

FDA eases concern about certain diabetes drugs

People who take Januvia, Byetta or certain other widely prescribed medicines for diabetes can breathe a little easier — U.S. and European regulators have found no compelling evidence of a link between these drugs and pancreas problems or pancreatic cancer.

The federal Food and Drug Administration and its European counterpart started reviews last year of these medicines, which came on the market less than a decade ago, after a study suggested a safety concern.

More than 25 million Americans and 33 million people in Europe have Type 2 diabetes, which impairs production or use of insulin to break down food into energy. That causes blood sugar to rise, putting them at risk of heart and other problems.

The drugs in question, called GLP-1 medicines, help spur insulin production after meals. Nine are approved in Europe and seven in the U.S., including include Merck’s Januvia and Janumet, Novo Nordisk’s Victoza and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Byetta and Bydureon.

The labels for Byetta, Januvia and Janumet already have information about the possibility of pancreatic inflammation. A study of insurance records had suggested GLP-1 drugs could double this risk.

In July, the European Medicines Agency said its review had found no new evidence of pancreas problems.

On Wednesday, the New England Journal of Medicine published a report from scientists in Europe and at the FDA saying reviews of animal and human studies, plus new studies commissioned to look at this risk, had found no treatment-related adverse effects on the pancreas.

Although the review “provides reassurance,” the agencies “have not reached a final conclusion” […]

By |February 27th, 2014|blogs|0 Comments