Whole blood test for toxoplasmosis is sensitive, specific

Transmission of toxoplasmosis from mother to fetus can lead to severe congenital problems and fetal death, and tests for the parasitic infection during pregnancy are critical. Now, researchers reporting in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases have showed the efficacy of a low-cost whole blood test for toxoplasmosis.

Toxoplasmosis results from infection with the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, usually transmitted to humans from eating undercooked contaminated meat or through exposure to infected cat feces. Existing tests for the infection are serum tests, which require blood samples to be processed using infrastructure and technology which can be prohibitive in developing areas and unaffordable in developed countries like the United States.

Rima McLeod of the University of Chicago and her colleagues, including Joseph Lykins and Karen Leahy, tested 205 individuals. The individuals tested included patients, volunteers, and obstetrical patients from Chicago and Morocco known to be infected with T. gondii. A team led by coauthor Dr. El Bissati tested the pregnant patients in Morocco, and Dr. McLeod’s team tested the patients in Chicago. The blood was tested for T. gondii infection status using reference tests, standard-of-care serum tests and the new whole-blood point-of-care (POC) test obtained by finger stick.

The whole blood POC test had 100% agreement with the reference and serum-variant testing, and proved highly sensitive and specific, with a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 100%. The scores held true even for women with lower levels of anti-Toxoplasma antibodies. However, the test cannot distinguish between acute and chronic infections.

The authors note, “Our work establishes a new point of care test in the outpatient setting at very low cost enabling diagnosis and prompt treatment for toxoplasma infections acquired for the first time during pregnancy. This enables life, sight and cognition saving treatments. If combined with multiplexed testing for other congenital infections and markers associated with premature birth, it will markedly improve maternal child outcomes and save lives.”

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First biomarker evidence of DDT-autism link: National birth cohort study finds DDT metabolites in the blood of pregnant women are associated with elevated odds of autism in offspring

A study of more than 1 million pregnancies in Finland reports that elevated levels of a metabolite of the banned insecticide DDT in the blood of pregnant women are linked to increased risk for autism in the offspring. An international research team led by investigators at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the Department of Psychiatry published these results in the American Journal of Psychiatry. The study, conducted in collaboration with investigators at the University of Turku and the National Institute of Health and Welfare in Finland, is the first to connect an insecticide with risk for autism using maternal biomarkers of exposure.

Researchers identified 778 cases of childhood autism among offspring born from 1987 to 2005 to women enrolled in the Finnish Maternity Cohort, representing 98 percent of pregnant women in Finland. They matched these mother-child pairs with control offspring of mothers and offspring without autism. Maternal blood taken during early pregnancy was analyzed for DDE, a metabolite of DDT, and PCBs, another class of environmental pollutants.

The investigators found the odds of autism with intellectual disability in offspring were increased by greater than twofold for the mother’s DDE levels in the top quartile. For the overall sample of autism cases, the odds were nearly one-third higher among offspring exposed to elevated maternal DDE levels. The findings persisted after adjusting for several confounding factors such as maternal age and psychiatric history. There was no association between maternal PCBs and autism.

While DDT and PCBs were widely banned in many nations over 30 years ago, including the U.S. and Finland, they persist in the food chain because their breakdown occurs very slowly, as long as several decades, resulting in continuing exposure to populations. These chemicals are transferred across the placenta in concentrations greater than those seen in the mother’s blood.

“We think of these chemicals in the past tense, relegated to a long-gone era of dangerous 20th Century toxins,” says lead author Alan S. Brown, MD, MPH, professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and of Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center. “Unfortunately, they are still present in the environment and are in our blood and tissues. In pregnant women, they are passed along to the developing fetus. Along with genetic and other environmental factors, our findings suggest that prenatal exposure to the DDT toxin may be a trigger for autism.”

The researchers offer two reasons for their observation that maternal exposure to DDE was related to autism while maternal PCB exposure was not. First, maternal DDE is associated with low birthweight, a well-replicated risk factor for autism. In contrast, maternal PCB exposure has not been related to low birthweight. Second, they point to androgen receptor binding, a process key to neurodevelopment. A study in rats found DDE inhibits androgen receptor binding, an outcome also seen in a rat model of autism. In contrast, PCBs increase androgen receptor transcription.

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Hospitals make £260,000 from vending machines

Hospitals make £260,000 from vending machines packed with high-calorie snacks

Ker-ching! Hospitals make a whopping £260,000 from vending machines packed with high-calorie snacks – and that’s just in Leeds!

  • Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has 43 vending machines across five sites
  • They made £60,000 from the machines in 2017 and £260,000 from 2013-2018
  • Each device serves predominately soft drinks, chocolate, crisps and/or sweets

Cash-strapped NHS hospitals are making thousands of pounds by selling sugary drinks, crisps and chocolate in vending machines – despite a Government crackdown.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust earned a staggering £260,000 through vending machine sales between 2013 and 2018, an investigation found.

Each of the automated dispensers serve an array of sugary drinks, chocolate, crisps and sweets alongside healthier options such as fruit.

The revelation of the trust’s extra income comes amid an NHS crackdown on the ‘epidemic of flab’, led by the chief of the health service.

Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, last year announced he would cut funding for trusts if they failed to remove super-sized confectionary from premises.

And he threatened to stop hospitals selling sugar-laden fizzy drinks if sales weren’t dramatically slashed.

Collectively, the UK’s 232 NHS trusts would create nearly £14 million from vending machines, each year.

On site: Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs St James’ Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary (pictured), has 43 vending machines across five sites – making £60,000 annually

The Yorkshire trust, which operates 43 vending machines at five sites, stressed only a fifth of their drinks sold in the dispensers contain added sugar.

And it added that each confectionary item is limited to 250 calories per portion – the same amount found in a hamburger from McDonalds.

The trust’s extra income – £60,000 last year – was uncovered by a Freedom of Information Request by the Yorkshire Evening Post. But there are 232 NHS trusts, so the total figure for the health service is likely to be much higher.

Stewart Golton, a member of Leeds City Council’s health and wellbeing board, slammed the newspaper’s revelations.

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He said: ‘Hospital trusts are already under fire for their car parking charges, but this is an even more controversial money-raising move.

‘The trust is signed up to the obesity prevention work commissioned through the Leeds Health & Wellbeing Board.

‘But the provision of high calorie snacks in vending machines throughout its buildings smacks of double standards.’

Mr Golton added: ‘The hospital has a responsibility to make sure people often already struggling with their weight are not left relying on a vending machine.

Food for thought: Hospitals, which increasingly treat obese patients with weight-related problems, are making millions from the sale of sugary snacks 


Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, threatened last April to stop hospital sites selling fizzy drinks if sales weren’t slashed to just 10 per cent of all possible drink sales.

It was hoped the controversial move – which has since led to sales of sugary drinks in hospitals being halved – would improve the diets of both patients and staff.

The reduction in sales, revealed in June, is equivalent to 1.1million cans of fizzy drink, ten million teaspoons of sugar or 160million calories.

Bosses ordered hospital shops last October to take super-size chocolate bars and ‘grab bags’ of sugary snacks off their shelves.

WH Smith announced this April it sold 1.1 million less chocolate bars since last April after it axed promotions – and removed a further 275,000 family-sized ones.

Other retailers such as Costa, Compass Group and The Royal Voluntary Service have also all curbed calories across their stores on NHS premises.

And NHS England figures show 175,000 more pieces of fruit had been sold in hospital stores across the country since the crackdown on flab began.

MailOnline has contacted both Public Health England and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust for comment.

The UK is currently battling an obesity epidemic, which has led to children being fatter than ever before.

Figures in 1993 showed just 15 per cent of adults were obese – compared to 26 per cent in 2016.

If this trend continues, half of the population could be obese by 2030, which would place even greater burden on the NHS.

In 2016/7, there were 617,000 admissions in NHS hospitals where obesity was a factor, an increase of 18 per cent on 2015/16.

Mr Stevens threatened last April to stop hospital sites selling fizzy drinks if sales weren’t slashed to just 10 per cent of all possible drink sales.

It was hoped the controversial move – which has since led to sales of sugary drinks in hospitals being halved – would improve the diets of both patients and staff.

The reduction in sales, revealed in June, is the equivalent to 1.1 million cans of fizzy drink, ten million teaspoons of sugar or 160 million calories.

Bosses ordered hospital shops last October to take super-size chocolate bars and ‘grab bags’ of sugary snacks off their shelves.

WH Smith announced this April it sold 1.1 million less chocolate bars since last April after it axed promotions – and removed a further 275,000 family-sized ones.

Other retailers such as Costa, Compass Group and The Royal Voluntary Service all have also curbed calories across their stores on NHS premises.

And NHS England figures show 175,000 more pieces of fruit had been sold in hospital stores across the country since the crackdown on flab began.

Almost 700,000 NHS employees out of 1.3 million are thought to be overweight or obese. 


The UK is officially the fat man of Western Europe.

Government figures reveal that, on average, men from across the home nations tip the scales at 13st 3lb (84kg).

Only Americans, who weigh roughly 14st (89kg) and Australians, around the 13st 5lbs (86kg) mark, are heavier.

The figures, compiled today by Forza Supplements, add to the body of evidence that highlights the worrying obesity epidemic in the UK.

Rotund: Government figures reveal that, on average, men from across the home nations tip the scales at 13st 3lb

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development figures already show the UK has the second worst obesity rates in Europe – behind just Hungary.

The new report, using official data from the health boards of 10 countries, confirms the problem – and found men in the UK to be heavier than those in the Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, Italy, France and Spain. Spanish men weigh the least at 11st 11lbs (74.8kg).

The figures also delved into the life expectancy of men across the countries and how tall they are, on average.

Data also showed a stark difference in life expectancy, with men in the US expected to die four years earlier than men in some countries.

American men can expect to reach 76.9 years old – which experts have repeatedly blamed on the burgeoning obesity epidemic.

In contrast, life expectancy is 80.9 in both Japan and Australia – despite the latter also having a problem with bulging waistlines.

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The Chipotle Outbreak That Sickened Nearly 650 People Was Caused by This Bacteria

The source of the outbreak that sickened nearly 650 people at a Chipotle in Ohio last month has been identified.

Stool samples taken from sick customers tested positive for Clostridium perfringens, a bacterium that can cause food poisoning when food is stored at unsafe temperatures, according to the Delaware General Health District, the public health department in Delaware, Ohio.

Although cooking kills C. perfringens cells, it doesn't necessarily kill bacterial spores that can grow into new cells, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). That means that if food is left sitting out for too long, or it's not refrigerated, the spores can grow and produce new cells, which may lead to illness when the food is eaten. Indeed, C. perfringens bacteria thrive in temperatures between 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (4 to 60 degrees Celsius), a range that's often called the "danger zone," because it's not too hot, or too cold, for bacteria to grow. [Top 7 Germs in Food that Make You Sick]

C. perfringens illnesses often occur when foods are prepared in large amounts, and are then kept warm for a long time before serving, HHS said.

In Ohio, health officials identified 647 people who got sick after eating at a Chipotle in the city of Powell between July 26 and July 30. Customers reported symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pains, according to Business Insider.

An inspection of the restaurant found that some foods were not being kept at proper temperatures. For example, beans were not held at a warm enough temperature, and lettuce was not properly cooled, Business Insider reported.

In response to the outbreak, Chipotle leadership "will be retraining all restaurant employees nationwide beginning next week on food safety and wellness protocols," Brian Niccol, CEO of Chipotle, said in a statement. "To ensure consistent food safety execution, we will be adding to our daily food safety routines a recurring 'employee knowledge assessment' of our rigorous food safety standards."

Original article on Live Science.

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Can you get pregnant while on the pill: 5 ways it can happen

In this article, we look at how effective the birth control pill is, and five reasons why the pill might fail. We also give tips on how to prevent pill failure and describe some early signs of pregnancy.

How effective is the pill?

The combined pill contains hormones that prevent ovulation, which is when the ovaries release an egg for fertilization. Another type of pill, known as the minipill, causes a person’s cervical mucus to thicken and the uterine lining to thin, which reduces the likelihood of sperm reaching an egg.

The birth control pill is very effective if a person takes it correctly and does not miss any pill days. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the pill is 99.7 percent effective with perfect use. This means that less than 1 out of 100 women who take the pill would become pregnant in 1 year.

However, with typical use, the effectiveness of the pill is 91 percent. This means that around 9 out of 100 women would become pregnant in a year of taking the pill.

It is essential to start a new pack of pills the day after finishing the previous one. However, sometimes a person may not have their new package yet. Missing a few days between packs can make the pill less effective at preventing pregnancy.

According to the CDC, anyone who misses two or more pills in a row should use a backup contraceptive method or avoid sexual intercourse until they have taken the birth control pill for 7 consecutive days.

Medications that interfere with the pill

Some medications can make the pill less effective. Medications include certain antibiotics, such as rifampicin, and anti-fungal drugs, such as griseofulvin.

A person should use backup contraception while taking these medications and for 48 hours after finishing the course.

Other more long-term medications and supplements may also affect how well birth control pills work. These can include:

  • epilepsy drugs, such as phenobarbital, phenytoin, and carbamazepine
  • anti-viral medications used to treat HIV
  • St. John’s Wort, which is a herbal remedy

If a person is concerned about contraceptive failure and the possibility of being pregnant, they should speak to their doctor. However, there are also some early signs that can indicate pregnancy:

  • Bloating. While bloating is often a symptom of premenstrual syndrome, it can sometimes also be a sign of early pregnancy.
  • Breast tenderness. Raised levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone can cause breast tenderness early in pregnancy. Some women may also experience symptoms, such as tingling, heaviness, or feelings of breast fullness.
  • Light spotting. A small amount of bleeding or spotting can occur when an egg attaches to the uterine lining. If spotting occurs outside of an expected menstrual cycle, it may be an early symptom of pregnancy.
  • Unexplained fatigue. Hormonal changes that occur in the body during pregnancy can make a person feel tired, even during the early stages.
  • Urinating more often. Hormonal changes can increase a woman’s need to urinate during early pregnancy.

Anyone who thinks they could be pregnant may wish to take an at-home pregnancy test. These tests have become more sensitive to a person’s hormone levels and better at detecting pregnancy in its earliest stages.

However, at-home pregnancy tests still may not reliable if an individual takes it too early or does not follow the instructions correctly. According to the United States Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), for most reliable results, a person should take the test 1–2 weeks after their first missed period.


While birth control pills are generally very effective, they can sometimes fail to prevent pregnancies if a person does not use them correctly and consistently.

Anyone who is concerned about the effectiveness or convenience of their method of contraception should speak to a doctor.

If a person misses taking more than one pill, they should use a backup contraceptive method for at least 7 consecutive days of retaking the pill.

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Coffee while breastfeeding: Safety and risks

A morning cup of coffee might help a person manage sleep deprivation, but many people worry about the effects of caffeine on their babies. However, caffeine is safe in moderation for people who are breastfeeding.

In this article, learn about drinking coffee while breastfeeding, including the risks, benefits, and other sources of caffeine.

Coffee and breastfeeding

Many people are told to limit or even eliminate caffeine during pregnancy due to the risk of caffeine crossing the placenta and affecting the developing fetus. However, caffeine is much less likely to affect a breastfeeding infant.

The body metabolizes most of the caffeine in coffee is before it reaches breast milk or has a chance to affect the baby.

According to Dr. Thomas Hale in Medications and Mothers Milk, caffeine is a low-risk drug in moderation. Only about 1 percent of the caffeine a woman consumes gets into her breast milk, and this minuscule amount is not enough to harm most babies.

Breastfeeding parents who want to take the safest approach should consider limiting caffeine intake to about 300 milligrams (mg) a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This amount of caffeine is equivalent to 2–3 cups of coffee.

Even caffeine consumption of more than 300 mg is unlikely to harm a baby. However, the CDC note that extreme caffeine consumption of more than 10 cups a day may cause symptoms in the baby, such as fussiness and jitteriness.

Caffeine levels in breast milk peak 1–2 hours after drinking coffee. A person who has recently breastfed may choose to watch their baby during this time to see whether they experience any effects from the caffeine.

Coffee is not the only source of caffeine. People concerned about their caffeine consumption or those who notice that caffeine seems to adversely affect the baby should be mindful of other caffeine-rich foods.

Some common sources of caffeine include:

  • energy drinks
  • black, green, and white tea
  • cola drinks
  • chocolate and cocoa products


No scientific evidence says that someone should give up caffeine while breastfeeding, though it is wise to enjoy it in moderation.

Some ways to manage caffeine intake include:

  • Monitoring the baby. Some babies are sensitive to caffeine and may become fussy or restless when the breast milk contains too much caffeine.
  • Considering how other dietary choices, not just caffeine, affect the baby. For instance, a high-sugar drink might affect the baby just as much as caffeine.
  • Knowing that the adult’s well-being matters, too. People who need caffeine to help them maintain energy and deal with frequent nighttime wake-ups and early mornings should not feel guilty about moderate consumption.
  • Drinking caffeine right after a nursing or pumping session. Depending on how frequently a baby nurses, this may allow enough time for the caffeine content in milk to drop before the next nursing session.
  • Making exceptions for a premature baby. If the baby was premature or has a particular medical condition, such as a history of food intolerances, it is best to talk to a doctor or lactation consultant about caffeine.
  • Cutting back. People who consume more than 2–3 cups of coffee a day, could try reducing the amount of caffeine slowly by making “half-caf” cups, which are a mix of regular and decaf coffee.

For more advice about balancing the risks and benefits of caffeine, people who are breastfeeding can talk to a doctor or lactation consultant.

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Men and women show surprising differences in seeing motion

Researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology on August 16 have found an unexpected difference between men and women. On average, their studies show, men pick up on visual motion significantly faster than women do.

Individuals representing both sexes are good at reporting whether black and white bars on a screen are moving to the left or to the right — requiring only a tenth of a second and often much less to make the right call, the researchers found. But, in comparison to men, women regularly took about 25 to 75 percent longer.

The researchers say that the faster perception of motion by males may not necessarily reflect better visual processing. They note that similar performance enhancements in this same task have been observed in individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or depression and in older individuals. The authors speculate that processes in the brain that down-regulate neural activity are disrupted in these conditions and may also be weaker in males.

“We were very surprised,” says Scott Murray at the University of Washington, Seattle. “There is very little evidence for sex differences in low-level visual processing, especially differences as large as those we found in our study.”

Murray and co-author Duje Tadin, University of Rochester, say that the finding was “entirely serendipitous.” They were using the visual motion task to study processing differences in individuals with ASD. ASD shows a large sex bias, with boys being about four times more likely to be diagnosed with the condition than girls. As a result, the researchers included sex as a factor in their analysis of control individuals in the study who didn’t have ASD. The sex difference in visual perception of motion became immediately apparent.

To confirm the findings, the researchers asked other investigators who had used the same task in their own experiments for additional data representing larger numbers of study participants. And those independent data showed the same pattern of sex difference.

Murray, Tadin, and colleagues report that the observed sex difference in visual perception can’t be explained by general differences in the speed of visual processing, overall visual discrimination abilities, or potential motor-related differences. The differences aren’t apparent in functional MRI images of the brain either.

Overall, they write, the results show how sex differences can manifest unexpectedly. They also highlight the importance of including sex as a factor in the design and analysis of perceptual and cognitive studies.

The researchers say that the findings come as evidence that visual processing differs in males and females in ways that hadn’t been recognized. They also provide a new window into differences in neural mechanisms that process visual information, Tadin says.

In further studies, the researchers hope to discover the underlying differences in the brain that may explain the discrepancy between men and women. So far, brain images of the key motion-processing areas haven’t offered up any clues, suggesting that the difference may originate in other portions of the brain or may be difficult to measure using current techniques. Ultimately, they say, this path of study might even yield new clues for understanding a vexing question: why ASD is more common in males.

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Forget the bling: High status-signaling deters new friendships

When it comes to making new friends, status symbols actually repel people from making friends with us, according to new research published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

“Often times we think that status symbols — whether a luxury car like a BMW, a brand name purse like Prada, or an expensive watch like Rolex — will make us look more socially attractive to others,” says Stephen Garcia (University of Michigan). “However, our research suggests that these status signals actually make us look less socially attractive, not more.”

The scientists conducted a series of six studies, where participants either presented themselves as possible friends, or they were the people evaluating who they would want to be their friends. Throughout the studies, people presenting themselves to a new group chose higher status items. Yet for the people asked about who they would want to be friends with, they preferred people with lower or neutral status symbols.

To control for the possibility that a luxury good might play a role in people’s reactions, the researchers conducted a study where they asked people which of two plain t-shirts participants would wear to a picnic in their efforts to make new friends. One t-shirt had “Walmart” written on it in plain script, and the other t-shirt had “Saks Fifth Avenue” written on it in plain script.

While the shirts were not luxury items, 76% of the participants who presented themselves as new friends chose to wear the t-shirt that said, “Saks Fifth Avenue,” whereas 64% of the would-be friends chose the person wearing the “Walmart” t-shirt.

The results appear to be consistent across socioeconomic groups. The only difference is that what is considered high status depends on one’s socioeconomic status.

“At a societal level, we may be wasting billions of dollars on expensive status symbols that ultimately keep others from wanting to associate with us,” says Kimberlee Weaver Livnat (University of Haifa). “And to the extent that close friendships are important to well-being, we may be inadvertently hurting ourselves.”

One next step is to delve into the mechanism of why presenters are making this error, say the authors. Is it that people often fail to take the perspective of others who are evaluating them as potential friends? Or do they accurately understand the perspective of the potential friends, but for some reason, chose status symbols when presenting themselves anyway?

Does this mean that status symbols are always bad? “No, not necessarily” says Patricia Chen (National University of Singapore). “Our findings right now only apply to the formation of new friendships. Status symbols may very well be beneficial at other times and in other settings, such as when trying to establish new business contacts.” Their last study in the paper finds that signaling high status symbols can, in fact, be helpful in attracting potential contacts, although not remarkably more than neutral status symbols.

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Eating a serving of button mushrooms a day could prevent diabetes

Eating a serving of button mushrooms a day could prevent diabetes: Fungi improves glucose control

Eating button mushrooms daily could prevent type 2 diabetes by boosting gut bacteria (but it must be a particular portion size)

  • Eating mushrooms increases levels of the bacteria Prevotella in mice 
  • Prevotella produces the acids propionate and succinate
  • These play a role in the expression of genes that manage glucose production  
  • Researchers hope to repeat the experiment in obese mice, as well as humans
  • They claim any change to the diet has an impact on a person’s gut bacteria 
  • e-mail


Eating a serving of button mushrooms a day could prevent type 2 diabetes, new research suggests.

Feeding mice a daily portion of white button mushrooms boosts their levels of a gut bacteria that is involved in the production of glucose, a study found.

According to the researchers, mushrooms act as a prebiotic, which are indigestible food ingredients that ‘fertilise’ the growth of bugs in the digestive tract.

Study author Professor Margherita Cantorna, from Pennsylvania State University, said: ‘Managing glucose better has implications for diabetes, as well as other metabolic diseases.’ 

Type 1 diabetes occurs when glucose levels rise due to a lack of the hormone insulin, which controls glucose’s movement in and out of cells. In type 2 diabetes, insulin levels are insufficient or the body does not respond to the hormone.

Around 3.2 million people in the UK are diagnosed with diabetes, of which 10 per cent have type 1. Type 1 diabetes affects approximately 1.25 million people living in the US, while 9.4 per cent of the population have type 2. 

Eating a handful of button mushrooms a day could prevent type 2 diabetes (stock)

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How the research was carried out  

The researchers analysed two types of lean mice. The first had gut bacteria, while the others did not and were ‘germ free’.

Professor Cantorna explained: ‘You can compare the mice with the microbiota with the germ-free mice to get an idea of the contributions of the microbiota.’

All of the rodents were fed a daily serving of mushrooms, which is the equivalent of around a 85g portion for humans. It is unclear how long the animals were fed the edible fungi for. 

‘Any change you make to the diet, changes the microbiota’ 

Results, published in the Journal of Functional Foods, suggest eating mushrooms increases levels of the bacteria Prevotella in mice.

Prevotella produces the acids propionate and succinate, which play a role in the expression of genes that manage glucose production. 

The researchers hope to repeat the experiment in obese mice, as well as humans.  

Mushrooms aside, Professor Cantorna added: ‘It’s pretty clear that almost any change you make to the diet, changes the microbiota.’


Diabetes is a serious life-long condition that occurs when the amount of sugar in the blood is too high because the body can’t use it properly.

Patients have to regular monitor their glucose levels to prevent them from developing any potentially fatal complications.

Type 1 diabetes patients are often recommended to test their blood sugar at least four times a day. For type 2 patients, doctors advise to test twice a day.

Blood glucose levels should be between the ranges of 3.5–5.5mmol/L before meals and less than 8mmol/L, two hours after meals.

Diabetes patients have to regular monitor their glucose levels to prevent them from developing any potentially fatal complications

Hypoglycemia (when blood sugar drops below 4 mmol/L) can occasionally lead to patients falling into comas in severe cases.

However, it most often can be treated through eating or drinking 15-20g of fast acting carbohydrate, such 200ml of Lucozade Energy Original.

Sufferers can tell they are experiencing a hypo when they suddenly feel tired, have difficulty concentrating or feel dizzy.

Type 1 diabetes patients are more likely to experience a hypo, because of the medications they take, including insulin.

Hyperglycemia (when blood sugar is above 11.0 mmol/L two hours after a meal) can also have life-threatening complications.

It happens when the body either has too little insulin, seen in type 1, or it can’t use its supply properly, most often in type 2.

In the short-term, it can lead to conditions including ketoacidosis – which causes ketones to be released into the body. 

If left untreated, hyperglycemia can lead to long-term complications, such as impotence and amputations of limbs.

Regular exercise can help to lower blood sugar levels over time, and following a healthy diet and proper meal planning can also avoid dangerous spikes.  

Scientists create an insulin pill with ‘remarkable’ results 

This comes after research released last June suggested scientists have created an insulin pill that could signal the end of injections for diabetics.

Unlike previous failed attempts to make oral diabetes medications, the pill survives the acidic environment of the stomach to release insulin into the bloodstream, according to the scientists.

After rats were given the unnamed pill, their blood-glucose levels fell by 38 per cent in two hours and 45 per cent after 10 hours, compared to a 49 per cent decrease in 60 minutes among those given insulin injections, a study found.

The researchers believe the drug may overcome the pain and needle phobias some diabetics experience.

Dr Mark Prausnitz, from the Georgia Institute of Technology, who was not involved in the study, said: ‘This study shows remarkable results where insulin given by mouth works about as well as a conventional injection’.

It is unclear when the drug may be available and if it would benefit type 1 or 2 diabetes patients. 


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FDA Approves 1st Generic EpiPen

THURSDAY, Aug. 16, 2018 — The first generic version of the EpiPen was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday, paving the way for more affordable versions of the lifesaving allergy emergency medication.

Though other injectors are available, this drug, made by Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, is the first the FDA has said is the equivalent of the EpiPen. It can be automatically substituted for EpiPen in pharmacies across the United States, the Washington Post reported.

With a new school season about to start, people have been reporting a shortage of EpiPens, the newspaper noted.

“Today’s approval of the first generic version of the most widely prescribed epinephrine auto-injector in the U.S. is part of our longstanding commitment to advance access to lower cost, safe and effective generic alternatives once patents and other exclusivities no longer prevent approval,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in an agency news release.

“This approval means patients living with severe allergies who require constant access to lifesaving epinephrine should have a lower-cost option, as well as another approved product to help protect against potential drug shortages,” Gottlieb added.

The price of the drug and its launch date were not yet available, but the company’s statement suggested it would not be in time for many parents who are scrambling to find EpiPens in their pharmacies now, the newspaper reported. Teva will market its generic epinephrine auto-injector in 0.3 milligram (mg) and 0.15 mg strengths.

EpiPen, made by Mylan, injects the hormone epinephrine into the thigh to reverse potentially fatal reactions to bee stings, peanuts and other allergens.

Although the key ingredient is cheap and the EpiPen was first approved in 1987, Mylan began increasing the price of the product, from less than $100 for a pack of two injectors in 2007 to $608 for a pair now. In response to criticism over the price of its drug, EpiPen introduced its own half-priced generic in 2016, the Post reported.

Posted: August 2018

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