Low calorie diet offers hope of cure for type 2 diabetes

People who have had obesity related type 2 diabetes for years have been cured- at least temporarily, by keeping to an extreme low calorie diet for two months British scientists report.
Low calorie diet offers hope of cure for type 2 diabetesThe discovery, reported by scientists at Newcastle University overturns previous assumptions about type 2 diabetes which was thought to be a lifelong illness.

In the UK about two and a half million people have been diagnosed with diabetes, the large majority with type 2, and numbers are rising across much of the world. The condition has to be controlled with drugs and eventually insulin injections. It can cause blindness and end in foot amputation, as well as shortening life.

The results of the Newcastle investigation- though the study was small, demonstrated that full recovery was possible not through drugs but through diet.

Eleven people with diabetes took part in the study, which was funded by Diabetes UK. They had to slash their food intake to just 600 calories a day for two months. But three months later seven of the 11 were free of diabetes.

“To have people free of diabetes after years with the condition is remarkable – and all because of an eight-week diet,” said Roy Taylor, professor at Newcastle University, who led the study. “This is a radical change in understanding type 2 diabetes. It will change how we can explain it to people newly diagnosed with the condition. While it has long been believed that someone with type 2 diabetes will always have the disease, and that it will steadily get worse, we have shown that we can reverse the condition.”

Type 2 diabetes, which used to be known as adult onset, is caused by too much glucose in the blood. It is strongly linked to obesity, unlike type 1, which usually develops in children whose bodies are unable to make the hormone insulin to convert glucose from food into energy. They need daily insulin injections.

The research, presented today at the American Diabetes Association conference, shows that an extremely low-calorie diet, consisting of diet drinks and non-starchy vegetables, prompts the body to remove the fat clogging the pancreas and preventing it from making insulin.

The volunteers were closely supervised by a medical team and matched with the same number of volunteers with diabetes who did not get the special diet. After just one week into the study, the pre-breakfast blood sugar levels of the study group had returned to normal. And MRI scans showed that the fat levels in the pancreas had returned to normal. The pancreas regained its ability to make insulin.

After the eight-week diet the volunteers returned to normal eating but had advice on healthy foods and portion size. Ten of the group were retested and seven had stayed free of diabetes.

Taylor, the director of the Newcastle Magnetic Resonance Centre, had the idea for the study after it was shown that diabetes was reversed in people who had undergone stomach stapling or other forms of bariatric surgery because of obesity. “What was remarkable was that the diabetes went away over the course of one week. It was widely believed the operation itself had done something, [that] the hormones in the gut were thought to be the cause. That is almost universally believed.”

Taylor thought the massive drop in calorie intake after surgery could be responsible and to test this hypothesis set up the study, which included MRI scans of the pancreas to look at any changes in the fatty deposits.

“We believe this shows that type 2 diabetes is all about energy balance in the body,” said Taylor. “If you are eating more than you burn, then the excess is stored in the liver and pancreas as fat, which can lead to type 2 diabetes in some people. What we need to examine further is why some people are more susceptible to developing diabetes than others.”

He warned that only a minority of people, perhaps 5% or 10%, would be able to stick to the harsh diet necessary to get rid of diabetes. But even that, he said, would dramatically improve the health of many people and save the NHS millions.

Iain Frame, director of research at Diabetes UK, said people should not embark on such a diet without a doctor’s approval and help. “We welcome the results of this research because it shows that type 2 diabetes can be reversed, on a par with successful surgery without the side effects.

“However, this diet is not an easy fix and Diabetes UK strongly recommends that such a drastic diet should only be undertaken under medical supervision. Despite [it] being a very small trial, we look forward to future results, particularly to see whether the reversal remains long term.”

From: http://www.guardian.co.uk/low-calorie-diet-hope-cure-diabetes

Measles cases pass total for 2010

The number of cases of measles in the first five months of this year have surpassed the total for the whole of 2010, according to new data.
Measles cases pass total for 2010The Health Protection Agency (HPA) reported 496 cases of measles in England and Wales up to the end of May this year, compared with 374 for the whole of 2010.

Most cases were in London and the South East, and children and teenagers were most commonly affected.

Small outbreaks have occurred in universities, schools and families, and there have been links with travel abroad after a surge in cases across Europe.

HPA data also show a rise in the proportion of children having the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

The first MMR vaccination is given when youngsters are around 13 months of age, with a booster jab before they start school (usually between the ages of three and five).

Among youngsters aged two, quarterly figures for January to March show 90% had received their first jab – the highest level for 13 years and a 0.6% rise on the previous quarter.

The figures showed that by the age of five, 92.8% of children had received their first dose.

However, not all parents take their child back for the second dose. Among children aged five at the start of the year, only 85.1% had received both doses.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of the immunisation department at the HPA, said: “We’re very encouraged to see that UK MMR uptake has reached 90% in children aged two, indicating increasing levels of trust by parents in the immunisation programme.

“We’re on the way to reaching our goal of 95% uptake. But anyone who missed out on MMR as a child will continue to be at risk of measles, which explains why we are seeing these new cases in a broad age range.

“It’s that time of year when children are travelling on school trips and family holidays and we are reminding parents and young adults of the importance of immunisation before they travel.

“We cannot stress enough that measles is serious and in some cases it can be fatal.”

From: http://www.independent.co.uk/measles-cases-pass-total-for-2010

Silicone breast implants are relatively safe find US regulators

Silicone breast implants are relatively safe despite frequent complications and a small increased risk of the disease lymphoma, US drug regulators have found.
Silicone breast implants are relatively safe find US regulatorsIn a new report, the Food and Drug Administration said the risks were well enough understood that prospective patients could make informed decisions.

But it found as many as one in five breast augmentation patients had the implants removed within 10 years.

The FDA released a 63 page report on the safety of the silicone gel filled implants that compiled studies performed by the two companies approved to manufacture the the products.

Approximately five to 10 million women across the world have breast implants, the FDA said.

In 2006, the FDA approved two brands of silicone gel implants for women over 22, Allergan’s Natrelle implants and MemoryGel implants from manufacturer Johnson and Johnson’s Mentor division.

Silicone implants had been off the market since 1992, when the FDA removed them amid concerns about implant rupture and silicone leakage.

The agency allowed saline filled implants to remain on the market, and allowed limited distribution of silicone implants for mastectomy patients and other cases of medical necessity.

According to the new report, as many as one in five breast augmentation patients and half of breast reconstruction patients had to have the implants removed within 10 years.

Studies found no association between the silicone implants and connective tissue disease, breast cancer, or reproductive problems, the FDA reported.

But they did find a “very small” increased risk of anaplastic large cell lymphoma.

The most frequent complications from the implants included implant rupture, wrinkling, asymmetry, scarring, pain, and infection.

The report found that the risk of those local complications increases with time.

“Breast implants are not lifetime devices,” the FDA cautioned women. “The longer you have your implants, the more likely it will be for you to have them removed.”

But the agency also found that most women who had breast implants “report high levels of satisfaction with their body image and the shape, feel and size of their implants”.

“Despite frequent local complications and adverse outcomes, the benefits and risks of breast implants are sufficiently well understood for women to make informed decisions about their use,” the FDA concluded.

From: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-13883267

Drugs treatment policy for England doomed to failure

Government policies for treating drug addicts in England are flawed and “doomed to failure”, a think tank says.
Drugs treatment policy for England doomed to failureThe Centre for Policy Studies says rehabilitation is a better use of the £3.6bn now spent on treating users with drug substitutes like methadone and keeping them on benefits each year.

But it says plans to reward groups which treat addicts so they can return to work are open to manipulation.

The Department of Health said it aimed to get users “off drugs for good”.

The coalition government wants to change the way drug addiction is tackled, with more people with problems diverted away from prison and into treatment as part of what it calls a “rehabilitation revolution”.

Part of this involves rewarding treatment providers who show addicts have improved their health and employment prospects.

A report from the right-of-centre think tank, which has links to the Conservative Party, says these payment by results schemes were being run by the very organisations “responsible for the current failure of policy”.

It says the current annual cost of maintaining treatment for 320,000 problem drug users is made up of £1.7bn in benefits, £1.2bn for looking after their children and £730m for prescribing the heroin substitute methadone.

Kathy Gyngell, Centre of Policy Studies: “The Department of Health has been paying 153,000 people to be on methadone”

The think tank calls for “a real transfer of power from large distant organisations to small innovative providers” for rehabilitation.

It says such units have a better chance of getting addicts off drugs completely, adding: “There is one simple measure of success: That of six months abstinence from drugs.”

According to the report’s author Kathy Gyngell, chairwoman of the prisons and addictions policy forum at the CPS, prescribing methadone to addicts delays their recovery.

She told the BBC: “The state is subsidising people to be any number of years on methadone, which has turned out not to be a cheap option and will only subsidise the tiniest proportion – 2% – to go into a rehabilitation unit that would actually free them from dependency and allow them to live their life.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “The 2010 Drug Strategy is fundamentally different from those that have gone before.

“Instead of focusing primarily on reducing the harms caused by drug misuse, our approach will be to go much further and offer every support for people to choose recovery as an achievable way out of dependence.”

He added: “Work is under way to support local recovery systems tailored to the needs of communities, many of which are already showing positive results.”

From: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13826759

Health Direct has for a long time noted the costly failure that is the current policy on drugs. On August 02, 2006 in Risks of taking drugs compared- Scientific review of dangers of drugtaking- Drugs, the real deal

we reproduced the first ranking based upon scientific evidence of harm to both individuals and society.

It was devised by government advisers – then ignored by ministers because of its controversial findings.

The analysis was carried out by David Nutt, the then senior member of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, and Colin Blakemore, the chief executive of the Medical Research Council.
http://www.healthdirect.co.uk/2006/08/risks-of-taking-drugs-compared.html

Organ donor register passes 18 million pledges

The number of people registered as organ donors in the UK has reached “staggering” levels, according to the NHS Blood and Transplant.
Organ donor register passes 18 million pledgesA record 18 million – nearly one out of every three – people now say they are willing to donate their organs.

But the organisation said even more people needed to register.

Although nearly 30% of the UK population have registered their willingness to help others live in the event of their death, Black and Asian people had to wait three times longer for a transplant, because of a shortage of donors in those communities.

Sally Johnson, director of organ donation and transplantation, said the number of people on the register represented “a fantastic achievement”.

But she added: “Getting people to sign up to the register is only half the battle.

“In order to see that their wishes are carried out in the event of their deaths, it is essential that those who want to become donors discuss donation with family and friends.”

People in Scotland are the most likely to donate, 37% are on the register. The South West of England isn’t far behind with 35% of people signing up.

In 2010, more than 1,000 people donated their organs, and 2,700 organs were transplanted, across the UK.

However, 10,000 people are still on a waiting list for transplants.

To add your name to the NHS Organ Donor Register, please ring 0300 123 23 23 or visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk.

Cancer Drugs Fund massively underspent interim report finds

Only 56% of the government’s £50 million interim Cancer Drugs Fund – or just under £27.5 million – was spent by Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) in England during the time the Fund was available from October 2010 to March 31, 2011, new figures show.
Cancer Drugs Fund massively underspent interim report findsThis spending rises to just over £32.5 million (65%) if anticipated future costs are included for patients whose treatment was initiated before March 31, says leading charity the Rarer Cancers Foundation (RCF), in a new report evaluating the impact of policies to improve access to cancer treatments.

The study shows that 2,880 applications were made to the interim Cancer Drugs Fund during October 2010-March 31, 2011 (773 applications in March alone) and that, overall, 2,506 cancer patients gained access to treatment as a result of the Fund, although applications for 187 patients were denied.

It also reveals a dramatic postcode lottery with a northsouth divide in approvals, as SHAs in the south of England approved a lower number of applications than those in the north.

For example, NHS South Central approved around 75% of applications during the period whereas NHS North East approved every application it received, and while NHS South West used less than a quarter of its allocated funds, NHS Yorkshire and the Humber spent slightly more than its allocated budget.

Most SHAs have taken steps to expedite the application process for the Fund, with one – NHS East of England – removing the requirement for clinicians to submit exceptional-case applications before they can access the Fund.

Also, six out of 10 SHA operate lists of drugs which will be routinely reimbursed through the Fund. “This approach reduces bureaucracy, enables rapid decision-making and provides greater certainty to clinicians and patients,” says the RCF.

However, NHS North West’s operation of a negative list of drugs which will only be funded in exceptional circumstances breaches the spirit of the Cancer Drugs Fund policy, says the RCF, adding that, despite guidance instructing SHAs to cease using negative lists, NHS North West’s list was still operational on June 3, 2011.

The Fund could potentially benefit more than 30,000 patients, enabling them to access 34 treatments which would not have been routinely available on the NHS, and patients with bowel, kidney and blood cancers have been among the greatest beneficiaries, the report finds.

The most-requested drug – by far – has been Roche’s Avastin (bevacizumab), followed by Merck & Co’s Erbitux (cetuximab), Novartis’ Afinitor (everolimus), GlaxoSmithKline’s Tyverb (lapatinib) and Roche’s MabThera (rituximab).

Commenting on these findings, RCF chief executive Andrew Wilson said that while it was “great news” that thousands of patients have benefited from the Fund, it was concerning that 187 patients had been denied life-extending treatment “despite money going unspent and the emergence of significant regional variations in approval rates.”

The report also looks at progress with Primary Care Trust (PCT) exceptional-case processes. It estimates that 7,743 applications were submitted between April 2007 and December 2010, and suggests that the substantial increase in application rates during October-December last year reflects the fact that many SHAs required clinicians to submit exceptional-case applications to PCTs before a treatment could be considered for reimbursement from the Cancer Drugs Fund.

October-December 2010 (the period in which the interim Fund was introduced) also saw a dramatic drop in the exceptional-case approval rate.

This is likely due to more clinicians being encouraged to apply for treatments which would have stood little chance of being approved before the Fund was introduced, the Foundation suggests, although it adds that this requires further investigation.

Legal highs becoming bigger issue than illegal drugs

Legal highs are becoming a bigger problem than illegal drugs with many young people wrongly believing they are safe.
Legal highs becoming bigger issue than illegal drugsAlan Andrews, an ex-heroin addict who runs a Llanelli-based drug intervention centre, said some legal drugs were stronger than illegal counterparts.

The programme has investigated the issue of legal highs, more than a year after the drug mephedrone, or meow meow, was banned.

Legal highs are substances that are manufactured in a laboratory which do not fall under the current legislation of banned substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act, according to Dr Mohan Da Silva, lead clinician for charity Kaleidoscope Wales.

Undercover recording has found shops breaking the law by selling some of these drugs for human consumption.

Mr Andrews, managing director of Chooselife, said: “It’s becoming a bigger problem than illegal drugs because… the message ‘legal’ means safe, which it’s not.

He said some of the legal high drugs “are stronger, more potent than the illegal drugs and it’s quite scary. There’s a generation of young people who are being sold a lie that legal means safe.”

“There has been a lot of talk about whether things are appropriately classified and I think the development of these new compounds at the rate they’re being developed probably warrants a second look at how we control all drugs,” he said.

Legal highs are not new but there are more of them and there are concerns they are getting more potent.

Last month the monitoring centre which records drug use across Europe said new highs were appearing at an “unprecedented” pace.

Some 41 new substances emerged in 2010, 16 of which were first reported in the UK.

The most high profile has been mephedrone, which has been linked to a number of young people’s deaths.

The UK government is planning to bring in temporary banning orders, to allow time for legal highs to be tested.

From: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-13846006

Home care provider Southern Cross given four months to find solution

Home care provider Southern Cross has reached an agreement that gives it four months to find a solution to its financial difficulties.
Home care provider Southern Cross given four months to find solutionSouthern Cross will continue to run all 751 care homes during that time.

The process will be overseen by a restructuring committee consisting of representatives from the Darlington-based company and its 80 landlords.

Social services directors in England welcomed the announcement, but called for more information about the plans.

The process is still expected to lead to hundreds of its care homes being run by other operators.

Government representatives were not present at the meeting, but a Department of Health spokesman said the government had been “in constant contact over the course of discussions and remains ready to talk to all parties”.

“There is likely to be a series of meetings in coming days over the future of Southern Cross. Government is clear that all parties must work together to agree on a plan that will safeguard the continuity of care of residents,” the spokesman said.

Southern Cross and its landlords issued a joint statement after the meeting.

“The company and the landlords will work towards a consensual solution to the company’s current financial problems, which will be delivered over the next four months,” it said.

“The business, including the delivery of care, will continue to be the responsibility of the Southern Cross board, management team and staff who have the full support of both the landlords and lenders in the delivery of this important task.”

At the end of the process, Southern Cross is expected to end up operating under a different name with between 250 and 400 of its current 751 care homes.

Other operators will run the rest of the homes.

However, while welcoming the announcement as providing “great comfort” to thousands of older people, the group which represents social services directors in England said it wanted more information about the restructuring.

“It is clear that despite today’s (Wednesday’s) hard work by the parties involved, directors and their colleagues in local authorities throughout England and beyond will not have been given sufficient details of the shape of the future company: details which would help the important and well thought through contingency planning in which we have all been involved,” said Peter Hay, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS).

“The issue is the important one of confidence, and of ensuring that current residents of Southern Cross homes, as well as people who might be considering buying a place in one for themselves or for a relative, share in that confidence.”

The ADASS, whose members buy places in Southern Cross homes, added that unless the firm acted rapidly, there was a real danger it would lose business and market share.

Last month, Southern Cross said that it would stop paying about a third of its rental bill.

It is the UK’s largest care home operator with 31,000 residents, employing 44,000 staff, of which the company has already said it will cut 3,000.

From: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13786633

Sexually transmitted diseases numbers droop

For the first time in over a decade there has been a drop in the number of new sexually transmitted infections in England new research reveals.
Sexually transmitted diseases numbers droopThe Health Protection Agency says although the reduction is small – only 1% down from the 424,782 cases diagnosed in 2009 – it is significant and a step in the right direction.

It says increased screening for diseases like chlamydia has helped.

For the first time rates of this disease show no rise and remain stable. There were 189,612 newly diagnosed cases of chlamydia last year.

At the same time, 2.2 million chlamydia tests were carried out in England among young people aged 15 to 24, an increase of 196,500 from the previous year.

Diagnoses of genital warts went down by 3% to 75,615 new diagnoses in 2010 and syphilis was down 8% to 2,624.

But other sex diseases continued to rise. Gonorrhoea went up by 3% from 15,978 diagnoses in 2009 to 16,531 in 2010. And genital herpes increased by 8% from 27,564 to 29,703.

Sexually Transmitted Infection trends

  • Chlamydia stabilised at 189,612 in 2010
  • Genital warts down 3% to 75,615 in 2010
  • Syphilis down 8% to 2,624 in 2010
  • Gonorrhoea up 3% to 16,531 in 2010
  • Genital herpes up 8% to 29,703 in 2010

Young people under the age of 25 remain the group experiencing the highest rates of STIs overall.

Dr Gwenda Hughes, head of the HPA’s STI section, says the encouraging decreases “do not mean we can rest on our laurels”.

“It is particularly encouraging to see a decline in some STIs among young people. However, these latest figures show that the impact of STI diagnoses is still unacceptably high in this group.
Condoms ‘still safest’

“Studies suggest that those who become infected may be more likely to have unsafe sex or lack the skills and confidence to negotiate safer sex.

“Prevention efforts, such as greater STI screening coverage and easier access to sexual health services, should be sustained and continue to focus on groups at highest risk.”

To reduce the risk of STIs, experts advise using a condom when having sex with a new partner and continuing to do so until both parties have been screened.

And sexually active under-25-year-olds should be tested for chlamydia every year, or sooner if they change their partner.

From: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-13764817

NHS patients’ medical data hacked

NHS patients face a potential security breach after computer hackers gained access to health service passwords.
NHS patients' medical data hackedThe group, which calls itself LulzSec, said that it had accessed a system that handles sensitive patient data. Last week it stole a million data records from a Sony website.

It published an email showing that it had informed the NHS of the security breach and saying “we mean you no harm and only want to help you fix your tech issues”.

It had taken master “admin” passwords from the system “months ago” while searching the internet for other materials, but had not exploited them.

On its Twitter account, which it uses to boast about its attacks, LulzSec claimed it had reported the security vulnerability after the dying wishes of Alice Pyne, a 15-year-old British terminal cancer sufferer whose online “bucket list” has become an internet phenomenon.

It said: “Greetings … we’re a somewhat known band of pirate-ninjas that go by LulzSec. Some time ago, we were traversing the internet for signs of enemy fleets. While you aren’t considered an enemy – your work is of course brilliant – we did stumble upon several of your admin passwords.”

The Department of Health admitted that the system had been breached, but said it was only on a local level. It has reported the incident to police.

“This is a local issue affecting a small number of website administrators,” a spokesman said. “No patient information has been compromised. No national NHS information systems have been affected.”

The incident is the latest in a string of computer security breaches, and has raised concerns about the security of patient data, which is being digitised en masse and uploaded to a national system as part of the much-delayed NHS national programme for IT.

LulzSec emerged in May when it published a database of more than 70,000 American X Factor contestants’ personal details, including their dates of birth and phone numbers. In a hacking spree, it has attacked Nintendo and Sony, and an FBI-linked security association. It says its attacks are for entertainment purposes.

From: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/Fears-for-patients-data-after-hackers-hit-NHS