Category Archives: Current Events

McDonalds Works To Fight It’s Junk Food Image

Okay, so maybe when McDonalds got sued for making girls fat, they should’ve thought about cleaning up their image, or when they were outed for cooking their fries in animal fat after saying they had stopped, or any of the other times when they were associated with obesity. Supersize me comes to mind. With this said, it’s never too late?

McDonalds recently hosted reporters and bloggers, serving them a dinner supposedly made by a celebrity chef using only ingredients from McDonalds’ menu. They provided a Kung Pao chicken appetizer that was made with Chicken McNuggets and sweet and sour sauce with parsley. They offered slow cooked beef with gnocchi out of their French fries and a fruit sauce for the smoothie mixes. For dessert, they offered a biscuit mix for a pumpkin spice biznut

They specifically held the event in New York City’s Tribeca, and they claimed that it was a transforming dining experience of fast food to good food served fast.

Make no mistake. They don’t intend to offer these at regular McDonalds restaurants. They were trying to get free of the perception that they only offer cheap, unhealthy foods. They want to sway public opinion, in part because people are trying to get healthier. They want to influence the people who write and speak about McDonalds, influencing public opinion. That’s certainly not all they’re doing though.

In the past 18 months, they offered to substitute egg whites in breakfast sandwiches, also offering rolled out chicken wraps as the first menu item that includes cucumbers. They also changed their menu to offer mandarin oranges in Happy meals as well as other potential fruits.

CEO Don Thompson has explained it saying, We’ve got to make sure that the food is relevant and that the awareness around McDonald’s as a kitchen and a restaurant that cooks and prepares fresh, high quality food is strong and pronounced. All the press about how they treat their employees certainly isn’t helping their reputation.

Restaurant industry analyst Sarah Senatore with Bernstein Research says, People just don’t think of McDonalds as having that premium quality. Well no shit Sherlock. What else do you expect with a 99 cents menu for example?

Frankly, the fact that even the salads are patently unhealthy is not good news, and are they really changing that? When competing with chains like Subway, Chipotle, and even Wendy’s, which was the first to actually eliminate animal fats in their frying oil, it will be a pretty big feat to say the least.

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Can We Block Alzheimer’s?

A major study started just recently to see if an experimental drug could help healthy seniors at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease to prevent it. The plan is to eventually scan brains of thousands of older people in the US, Canada, and Australia to help to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s.

If you have a lot of beta-amyloid, a gunky protein build up in your brain, it doesn’t guarantee that you will develop Alzheimer’s or other similar issues. But, if we were to intervene earlier on, could we make a difference and stop the disease in its tracks?

According to Dr. Reisa Sperling of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical school, We have to get them at the stage when we can save their brains.

Gathering volunteers is just in its beginning stages.

The current volunteers in many cases have stories of their own. They come from families for example that have a history of Alzheimer’s. Peter Bristol of Wakefield, RI is just one such patient who says, I felt I needed to be proactive in seeking whatever therapies might be available for myself in the coming years. Just because I have it doesn’t mean I’m going to get Alzheimer’s. But both Bristol and his wife are going into the situation with our eyes wide open.

Some are using Solanezumab, a drug designed to catch amyloid before it has a chance to build up into brain plaque seen with Alzheimer’s. In earlier studies, this drug did not treat full blown Alzheimer’s, but it did seem to slow the mental decline of patients with mild forms. In other words, it seems more effective if used earlier. Scientists believe, in part because of this, that Alzheimer’s may start hitting the brain before you even see memory problems popping up. So if you can catch it before you see obvious symptoms, you may have your best shot.

Regardless of the current results, this study and studies like it are being watched closely to see where we are heading. Scientists want to know more about amyloid, whether or not this drug actually works.

Those test subjects between 65 and 85 will undergo cognitive tests before signing up to make sure their memory is currently normal. They will also be learning about their amyloid levels, and researchers may turn away subjects who they think may not cope with the news well.

Dr. Laurie Ryan of the NIH’s National Institute on Aging says, It is breaking new ground. We really do have to understand how that affects people.

Chobani Apologizes For Dissing Science

One day, you say that yogurt has nothing to do with science. The next, you have to suck it up and apologize. It happens to the best of us. When you’re a multi-million dollar corporation, you just happen to have a bigger audience when you do so. Everybody has had something to say since Chobani’s move to give yogurt back to nature.

Scientists were offended. Consumers were confused. It seemed that Chobani was trying to draw in consumers who demand natural foods. However, the definitions can be vague to say the least. The problem is that they went too far, and they didn’t seemingly understand natural as without artificial sweeteners, flavors, and preservatives. In short, it ignored the major science required to manufacture that small cup of Greek yogurt.

Savvy consumers it seems were smarter than Chobani expected. They were capable of understanding that they were being targeted by big business and the food industry. Regardless, a number of fans opted to set Chobani straight:

  • Goddess Demeter, whose dominion over agriculture is absolute, got @Chobani to 100 calories. Not your pitiful mortal science #howmatters
  • Dear @Chobani, As a natural products chemist, I can honestly say I love eating chemicals. #howmatters Cheers, @kzrt
  • If you wish to make Greek yogurt from scratch, you must first invent the universe #howmatters @Chobani

Chobani responded, We were too clever for our own good – didn’t intend to put down science or scientists with our recent lid. We discontinued it. #WordsMatter

How Involved in Health Scams Is Dr Oz?

Testifying before Congress and under presssure, Dr. Mehmet Oz offered to help drain the swamp of unscrupulous marketers as he put it. For years, these marketers have used his name to push all sorts of health and weight loss supplements, miracle pills, cure-alls, etc. Oz was scolded by Chairman Claire McCaskill for claims he made about weight loss on the Dr. Oz Show, and to some degree for allowing his name to be used so roundly. His supporter, Oprah, has actually sued a number of companies to get her name and picture off those types of supplements.

Oz is a cardiothoracic surgeon, and he acknowledges that the way he describes green coffee and other supplements he supports is flowery at best. He has promised to put out a list of products he thinks can help us to shed pounds and get fit, though he has never specifically endorsed any one company, brand, or supplement. Companies who use those ingredients have just jumped on the opportunity.

In 2012, by flowery, we mean that Oz claimed that green coffee bean was a magic weight loss cure for every body type. McCaskill told Oz, I get that you do a lot of good on your show, but I don’t get why you need to say this stuff because you know it’s not true.

Dr. Oz has vowed to be more careful going forward, and he of course hopes that will be enough. He has long talked about supplements being used as magical cure-alls for weight loss and short-term crutches, and he claims he has even had his family try them to prove it. He wants to be a cheerleader for his audience, but does that really include giving patently false promises he knows are false to make money? Does that really mean eschewing science as a medical professional?

Within mere weeks of his proclamations about green coffee bean, a Florida based company immediately jumped on board to market a product called Pure Green Coffee with claims that the chlorogenic acid could help users to lose 17 pounds and cut away body fat by 16% in just 22 weeks. The company used footage of The Dr. Oz Show to sell it, and Oz has never received any money, nor does he have any association with the company. The FTC recently sued the makers of Pure Green Coffee, accusing them of bogus claims to deceive consumers.

Dr. Oz, much like many others, must realize that the weight loss industry is full of scams, and consumers are vulnerable to fraud. Oz has stressed that he has never promoted a particular supplement, but he has certainly opened the doors.

Oz says, If you see my name, face or show in any type of ad, email, or other circumstance, it’s illegal, certainly not something he has endorsed. But it makes you wonder why he has allowed so many companies to do it.

There’s No Science In Yogurt – Chobani

I’m not against the idea of yogurt. I like the way it tastes, and I take any health claims with a grain of salt. As it turns out, this is a valid way to think as Chobani has come out to let us know: There is no science behind yogurt, and yes, we’re talking about the famous, supposedly protein rich, Greek yogurt. All the credit should go to nature, not science….That’s a little more complicated than you might have originally thought.

There are plenty of people who don’t agree with Chobani, and they resent the implications. Frankly, when it was printed all over Chobani lids, it left a bad taste in many customers’ mouths. There are obviously scientists who are frustrated with the message. After all, it’s their work that Chobani is throwing under the bus. They are frustrated with the picture of science being at odds with nature.

Popular Science contradicts their claim, saying that yogurt has plenty of science integrated into it. It has pectin and locust bean gum to thicken the yogurt as well as live and active cultures that are developed and monitored for gut health. We of course rely partly on pasteurization. Chobani claims that it’s a joke gone awry, but the scientific community and others aren’t taking it so lightly. As Michelle M Francl of Slate points out:

We are a chemophobic culture. Chemical has become a synonym for something artificial, adulterated, hazardous, or toxic. Chemicals are bad—for you, for your children, for the environment. But whatever chemophobics would like to think, there is no avoiding chemicals, no way to create chemical-free zones. Absolutely everything is made of atoms and molecules; it’s all chemistry.

As of right now, Chobani’s spokesperson doesn’t seem to get the point. They still seem to be falling back on the idea that it’s just a joke.

Can The Measles Vaccine Eliminate Cancer?

While there are people out there fighting against vaccines, insisting they kill us and give our kids autism, there are plenty of others who realize that we have wiped out a disease that has unfortunately killed many needlessly. In fact, we’ve wiped out a number of those diseases in our world as we know it today, except for in areas where ultimately people choose not to have their kids vaccinated. In the scientific world, we are always looking for new innovations and new developments, which today includes the possibility that the measles vaccine may actually do more.

Cancer patients for years to come can thank one brave woman, a 49 year old Mayo Clinic patient suffering from multiple myeloma for about a decade. She is now free of cancer thanks to a cutting edge treatment on something we’ve had for quite a while. She underwent an experimental treatment, receiving an extremely high dose of the measles vaccine, which could have inoculated 10 million people. It was given to her in a single injection through an IV over an hour. Her tumors shrunk quickly, within a single week, and within 3 months, she was cancer free. She has now been in remission for about 6 months. Another test subject isn’t in remission yet, but he has seen a significant reduction in bone marrow cancer and myeloma protein.

The measles virus effectively destroys cancer cells, infecting them without being strong enough to infect the host. It causes the cells to effectively explode from the inside out, which is why it works so fast. Known as systemic oncolytic virotherapy, This is the first study to establish the feasibility of systemic oncolytic virotherapy for disseminating cancer. These patients were not responsive to other therapies and had experienced several recurrences of their disease. according to Stephen Russell MD PhD, Mayo Clinic Hematologist.

Researchers will soon begin a larger phase 2 clinical trial to ideally get it on the pathway to FDA approval with multiple myeloma patients this September. If the results continue to be promising, it could be available to patients in general in 4 years.

A Breathalyzer To Detect Cancer?

There are plenty of things coming out to cure cancer, but what about detection? What if it could be as simple as simply taking a breathalyzer? Yes, kinda like if you were pulled over. But really, not going into machines, not going through excessive tests. I imagine that they could even get it to the point of being relatively affordable.

According to Raed Dweik, a doctor who runs the pulmonary vascular program at the Cleveland Clinic’s Respiratory Institute, his research indicates this may be possible. He has spent the last 2 decades studying the molecular patterns in breath that can show what’s happening inside the body. They say that dogs can smell cancer and have done odd things to indicate it. Why shouldn’t a machine be able to pick up the same smells.

Dweik says, A lot of people just think breath is what’s in your lungs. We realize now that anything in your body that is eventually in the blood can be measured in your breath. This includes diseases such as lung cancer, liver disease, heart disease, asthma, IBS, and other diseases that apparently have really distinct signatures in their breath. Just imagine the implications. If you could actually get a solid diagnosis, even for IBS, without undergoing procedures where you have to go under and pay hundreds, or even thousands, that could make a huge difference. When it expands to cancer…..you get where I’m going. At the very least, it’s going to be far less invasive than something like a biopsy.

Unfortunately, not every disease has a discernible breath signature that we know of or that we can pick up. For example, Dweik was unable to find one for esophageal cancer. You would think that would, but there were plenty with signatures that you might not expect.

It almost seems like we’re going backwards. Western medicine’s earliest ideas about disease and life came from the breath. They knew it was essential for life, and they are now currently even trying to figure out if they can test for a concussion based on a football player’s breath. It could be the next frontier in medical diagnosis. Dweik ultimately wants to make this something that the average person could simply carry around in their purse or wallet and use it as needed, which is something that manufacturers may actually be working on already. Vantage Health is currently working on a cancer-screening breath-test that you could attach to a smartphone.