Holistic Healthcare News Briefs: PPI's: Prodigious Plotz Inducers?

Proton pump inhibitors and other ulcer drugs may quell gastric pain, but McGill University researchers say they're also a great way to give yourself the runs.

According to Dr. Sandra Dial, people with prescriptions for PPI's, including the wildly popular Prilosec and Prevacid, are 3 times more likely to have Clostridium difficile-induced diarrhea than people who do not take the drugs.

The finding is based on data from more than 18,000 people in the UK. From the years 1994 to 2004, there were 1,672 C. diff cases on record, with the incidence increasing from 1 per 100,000 in 1994, to 22 per 100,000 ten years later. When the McGill team looked at potentially predictive risk factors, ulcer drugs jumped off the page. PPIs showed the strongest correlation, but H2 blockers also carried a 2-fold increased risk. The study was published in JAMA.

The findings are not entirely surprising, given that PPIs and H2 blockers, by reducing stomach acid, blunt one of the body's key defenses against ingested pathogens. Talk about trading one stomach ache for another. (Source: Associated Press)


It's good for the heart and vessels. It's good for the brain. It's good for the skin. Now there's evidence that fish oil is good for the lungs, especially in people with asthma. A small but compelling study by a joint team from Wales and the US showed marked reduction of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction in asthmatics taking daily fish oil (3.2 g EPA and 2.0 g DHA) compared with similar patients on olive oil placebo. All subjects ceased their asthma meds prior to the 8-week crossover study, which was published last January in CHEST (Vol. 129, No. 1, pp. 39–49). (Source: NutraIngredients Daily Newsbriefs)

Pigging Out on Omega-3s

And speaking of omega-3's University of Missouri researchers have developed a fish-free fish oil by, get this, inserting a gene from a marine worm into pig embryos. They then clone the hybrid hoglets and implant them in normal sows. The gene codes for enzymes that convert omega-6 into omega-3 fatty acids.

Once born, the bioengineered piglets produce high levels of omega-3's in their flesh, according to the paper published earlier this spring in Nature Biotechnology. We can practically smell that high-omega-3 bacon frying as we write!

Yifan Dai, a University of Pittsburgh geneticist who developed the worm-to-pig gene transfer trick, believes high-omega pork could help people get their healthy omegas without further taxing the rapidly-collapsing marine ecosystem. That probably won't wash with anti-GMO enviros, especially if they're Kosher or Hallal.

Researchers are already working on omega-3 chicken and beef, which potentially solves the religious dietary restrictions problem, though not the GMO issue. The gene transfer technology was first used to create omega-3 turbocharged mice, which could be good news for cats (or post-doctoral research fellows) at increased cardiovascular risk. (Source: Functional Foods & Nutraceuticals)

Fizz Ed's Dead

Soda company executives are probably feeling a little less effervescent these days, now that school districts nationwide have agreed to ban soda vending from junior high and high schools. Under an agreement, guided by former President Bill Clinton's Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the American Heart Association, pop biz biggies will work with school districts to phase out sugary, caffeinated sodas in school vending machines, replacing them with bottled water and sweetener-free fruit juices. The target date for the fizz-out is the 2009–10 school year.

Beverage industry leaders say the agreement, which is voluntary, probably won't affect their bottom lines, since school sales represent just a tiny sliver of their revenues. That, and the fact that the big beverage companies also own water and juice brands, should cushion the blow. Still, the move represents a major step forward in preventing diabetes and cardiovascular risk in children and teens.

Cheeseburger, Fries & a Large Benzene

And if your sugar-shocked, caffeine-cranked, aspartame-addled patients need more reasons to quit drinking soda, consider the benzene. Earlier this spring, the UK's Food Standards Agency reported that levels of benzene—a potent carcinogen—exceeded the UK's standard for safe levels in drinking water in 230 popular UK soft-drinks. Simultaneously, the US Food and Drug Administration reported that benzene levels exceeded acceptable standards in many sodas sold here. Several contain benzene levels above the US drinking water standard of 10 parts per billion.

The benzene in the bubbly is the result of a chemical reaction that can occur between ascorbic acid, a common ingredient in soda, and sodium benzoate, a frequent additive. The problem is widely known among beverage makers, but until now, not widely talked about. It remains to be determined whether the benzene levels pose any significant health risk. FDA is currently reviewing all data on the subject, and Congress has demanded that the FDA take action to resolve the problem quickly. (Source: NutraIngredients Daily Newsbriefs)

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