Sweet Drug Clears Cholesterol, Reverses Heart Disease—And Was Found by Parents

Two parents’ quest to save their twin daughters’ lives from a rare, degenerative genetic disorder may end up saving and improving the lives of millions.

Source: Sweet drug clears cholesterol, reverses heart disease—and was found by parents

From  http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/8/333/333ra50 :

Cyclodextrin is a common FDA-approved substance that is already used as a solubilizing agent to improve delivery of various drugs.

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There’s No Such Thing As ‘Good Cholesterol’ Says Pivotal New Study

A surprising new genetic study shows that some people with naturally high levels of HDL cholesterol—the supposedly good kind of cholesterol—are at increased risk of a heart attack. Doctors are now further questioning the use of drugs to boost HDL levels while looking to new therapies to reduce heart risk.

Source: There’s No Such Thing As ‘Good Cholesterol’ Says Pivotal New Study

Sorry for the scare.

For the people with this genetic defect, HDL (“good”) cholesterol is not good because the defect destroys their liver’s ability to absorb fat brought to it by HDL.  In normal people, HDL still correlates with lower risk of heart disease.

Even More Evidence BMI Isn’t a Good Measure of Health

We already knew BMI isn’t a great measure of whether a person is fat or not, but now a study confirms that it’s not a good measure of health either.

Source: Even More Evidence BMI Isn’t a Good Measure of Health

It’s weird that BMI has stuck around so prominently. It’s a crude, blunt instrument that people think is precise. The only inputs in the equation are height and weight so it’s essentially meaningless.

Why Shouldn’t You Take Medicine with Grapefruit Juice?

The most fascinating part about this is that they only discovered it fairly recently, and by accident. They were doing tests to see if a drug interacted with alcohol, and sweetened the alcohol with grapefruit juice for the subject… I guess they somehow realized it wasn’t the alcohol that had the reaction with the medicine.

If that guy preferred cranberry juice, we may still not know.

Artificially Sweetened: How Politics Massaged the Science in the New Dietary Guidelines

The [US] federal government just released a new set of dietary guidelines, and as always, they’re a work of both science and politics. They include controversial changes: for instance, sugar now has a limit, and cholesterol does not. Here’s your guide to what’s new, what isn’t, and where the experts disagree.

Source: Artificially Sweetened: How Politics Massaged the Science in the New Dietary Guidelines

I know of not one person who actually gives any credance to what the fools at the USDA say. Certainly not enough to measurably change their diets.  But school lunches, WIC, and military meals are based on this. Dieticians base their advice off the guidelines. And media of all kinds is full of news about how people should be paying more attention to the new cholesterol and sugar guidelines.

Do we all go and look up exactly how many cups of vegetables we should be eating? No. But they do have a major effect on what the country eats.  After all, if everybody ignored the guidelines, industry wouldn’t be so eager to influence them.

‘Fat But Fit’ May Be A Myth

One of the most controversial ideas in medical science today is whether people can really be fat and fit. That is, is weight in itself a marker of health — or simply a suggestion of a person’s physical fitness?

Source: ‘Fat but fit’ may be a myth, researchers say

You’re probably wondering: Obviously it isn’t bad to work out, but is exercising while people are overweight an issue until there is fat loss? Is it not beneficial at first?

A lot of studies have indeed concluded that exercise is beneficial in terms of the later risk of disease. Physical activity have various positive effects on the body and it is most likely beneficial for individuals no matter their body fat percentage. However, analyzing fitness (as we have done) does not account for exercise that does not alter fitness level. Lastly, it is important to highlight the limitations of this study; it is merely an attempt to show an association, and the researchers did not intend to demonstrate causality. Further research is needed!

Low-Carb Beats Low-Fat in a Meta-Study of 17 Clinical Trials

In a new study published in the Journal PLOS ONE, a meta-analysis of seventeen randomized clinical trials provides insight into the relative benefits of low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets in terms of weight lost, cholesterol and the risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) events. The seventeen clinical trials used for meta-analysis included a total of 1,797 patients over the age of eighteen who all lacked co-morbidities other than dyslipidemia. Each trial randomly assigned patients to treatment groups and included at least eight weeks of follow-up.

Source: Low-carb beats low-fat in a meta-analysis of 17 clinical trials

This also fits well with our understanding of the GI system. When broken down fat progresses through your stomach and hits your duodenum, cholecystokinin (CCK) is released by duodenal enteroendocrine cells. This peptide hormone causes bile to be released, but it also slows the rate of stomach emptying and generally makes you feel more satiated. In other words, all things being being equal (size, calorie content, etc.) a fatty meal will make you feel more full than a meal high in carbohydrates. This is obviously just one component at play, but I think this does make a lot of sense.

The problem is that protein and fat are expensive, but carbs are cheap. It’s cheap because the government heavily subsidizes corn (carbohydrates), and subsequently corn is involved in almost every inexpensive food product (IE high fructose corn syrup is everywhere).

The study was funded by Atkins Nutritionals, a corporation founded by Dr. Robert Atkins for the promotion of low-carbohydrate diets.  The studies included in the meta analysis were not funded by Atkins however.  Which means the studies were cherry-picked…

Brand-Name Drugs Increase Cost—But Not Patient Satisfaction

In recent days, presidential candidates and even the American Medical Association have griped about rising drug prices, pointing to brand-name blockbusters with splashy ad campaigns.

Source: Brand-Name Drugs Increase Cost—But Not Patient Satisfaction

On a related note, I reported about the price of medication affecting efficacy in the past.  And we know that the price of a buffet can affect our perception of taste…  So really, it makes sense why people would be happier about spending less for the same medication.

Heart Risk? Marathoners Have Increased Artery Plaque

Who do you think would have more artery clogging in the heart: (A) a group of sedentary, overweight men; or (B) a group of men who are slightly older, much leaner, and have run at least one marathon annually for 25 years?

Source: Heart Risk? Marathoners Have Increased Artery Plaque

The sample size isn’t terribly large, and while the study says they couldn’t pinpoint why the plaque was happening.  But from numerous people I’ve spoken to, there’s a percentage who run marathons/etc but eat poorly.  Those that eat poorly, due so because they are looking to consumer lots of calories, salt, or just “reward” themselves with nutritionally poor food.

10 Stubborn Food Myths That Just Won’t Die, Debunked by Science

Every other week, new research claims one food is better than another, or that some ingredient yields incredible new health benefits. Couple that with a few old wives’ tales passed down from your parents, and each time you fire up your stove or sit down to eat a healthy meal, it can be difficult separating food fact from fiction. We talked to a group of nutritionists and asked them to share the food myths they find most irritating and explain why people cling to them. Here’s what they said.

Source: 10 Stubborn Food Myths That Just Won’t Die, Debunked by Science

Some of the myths have been covered on their own: