Breaking News

'Amazing' results for diabetes patients after weight-loss surgery

A new study in the journal Diabetes Care found gastric bypass surgery can have a lasting effect in reversing pancreas damage brought about by Type 2 diabetes. It's further evidence that bypass surgery produces dramatic results unmet by medication alone. NBC's Robert Bazell reports.

By Robert Bazell, Chief science and medical correspondent, NBC News

As weight-loss surgery has become more common over the last several years, doctors have had tantalizing clues that certain procedures bring dramatic reduction in type 2 diabetes -- beyond getting their ability to reduce the patient’s weight.

The surgery appears to have stopped damage to the pancreas, reversing the cause of diabetes as well as alleviating the symptoms, the researchers reported in the journal Diabetes Care.

A year ago researchers at the Cleveland Clinic carried out a careful trial of 150 patients with diabetes that was not being adequately controlled. One-third got gastric bypass, one-third were given a device similar to a lap band that reduces stomach volume, and the rest received the best drug therapies. The goal was to reduce the participants’ blood sugar to below normal levels.

In the patients who got the bypass surgery the results were dramatic.

"It's pretty amazing," bariatric surgeon Dr. Philip Schauer of the Cleveland Clinic said at the time. “Many of our patients, even within hours of the operation, their blood sugar becomes normal … even before they've lost any weight at all.”

The big question was, would the results last? In a one-year follow-up study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, the answer is yes. "Gastric bypass surgery seems to uniquely restore pancreatic beta-cell function, presumably by targeting belly fat and modifying the hormones in the gastrointestinal tract," Dr. Sangeeta Kashyap, an endocrinologist with the Cleveland Clinic, said in a statement. "Gastric bypass remarkably targets belly fat where hormones that are toxic to the body develop."

Marla Evans a former Type 2 diabetic says within a few days of having gastric bypass surgery her diabetes was much better and within a month or two after surgery she had no trace of diabetes and felt "fabulous emotionally and physically." 

The pancreas makes insulin, which in turn control blood sugar. People with diabetes can't control their blood sugar as well, and the excess sugar damages organs such as the eyes and kidneys. The pancreas worked again in patients who had the surgery, Kashyap says. "This is something that is very novel and something we don’t see with medications or with insulin," she said.

A gastric bypass procedure makes the stomach smaller by dividing it into two sections and connects a portion of the small intestine to one of the stomach pouches, reducing the amount of calories absorbed by the body. Curiously, another surgical procedure called sleeve gastrectomy, which also reduced stomach volume, caused the patients to lose just as much weight, but it did not bring the same dramatic reduction in diabetes.

The doctors are not sure how the bypass surgery changes the hormone balance in the body to cure the diabetes. And they hope someday they might achieve the same effect without the surgery.

The Cleveland Clinic doctors want to treat more patients before they are confident they have a cure. An estimated 26 million Americans have type 2 diabetes and it has been called one of the fastest-spreading epidemic ever.

Dr. Sangeeta Kashyap, an endocrinologist at the Cleveland Clinic, says their studies show that bypassing the intestine has powerful benefits on peoples' diabetes and metabolism.

If it continues to be successful, the main issue will be whether major surgery costing $25,000 -- and often not covered by insurance -- is too drastic a treatment. In response any doctors point out that uncontrolled diabetes often leads to kidney problems, heart attacks, strokes, amputations and death. For many diabetic patients medical costs far exceed $25,000. So, if the diabetes cannot be controlled in other ways, the surgery may become far more common.


SP 6 Bln Annually On Chronic Diseases: Health Minister


DAMASCUS, (ST) –" the Health Ministry spends over SP 6 bln annually on chronic diseases," underscored Minister of Health, Dr. Saad al-Nayef .

"there is a dire need   to spread health education and awareness about illnesses," al-Nayef added.

Al-Nayef remarks came during a tour he made on Thursday  in  the Specialized Medical Clinics Center in Damascus .

 The Minister pointed out that the center lacks some medical equipment, while medicines are available and cover all citizens' needs.

"the ministry is working to provide vaccinations for Thalassemia patients, stressing the necessity to conduct  pre-marriage tests in a bid to  limit the Thalassemia disease, "affirmed the minister.



Lung cancer 'overtaking breast cancer in European women'

Lung cancer is set to overtake breast cancer as the biggest cause of female cancer death in Europe, say experts.

This is already the case in the UK and Poland, the Annals of Oncology reports.

The rise reflects a surge in the number of women who started smoking in the 1960s and 1970s, the experts say.

The lung cancer death rate will continue on its upward trend for the next few years - but with fewer young European women now starting to smoke, it should decrease with time.

In 2013, some 82,640 European women will die from lung cancer, while 88,886 will die from breast cancer.

 For lung cancer, we expect death rates to start to go down in around 2020 or 2025 now that the new generation of women are smoking less”

And by 2015 the balance will have shifted and lung cancer will take the lead, according to Prof Carlo La Vecchia and colleagues.

They looked at cancer rates for the EU as a whole (27 member states as at 2007) and also in six individual countries - France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK - for all cancers, and, individually, for stomach, intestine, pancreas, lung, prostate, breast, uterus (including cervix) and leukaemias.

Figures show that although more and more people are developing cancer - because they are living longer - overall, fewer are dying from the disease, according to BBC.

Despite the decline in total cancer deaths, lung cancer death rates continue to rise among women in all EU countries.

The number of pancreatic cancer deaths among both men and women also shows no sign of decreasing, largely because there are few effective treatments for this type of cancer.

Prof La Vecchia, of the University of Milan, Italy, said: "This is worrying. It is the single major cancer that does not show any signs of declining in the future, despite fewer people smking.

"Smoking and diabetes account for about a third of cases. But we do not know what causes most of the rest.

"But for lung cancer, we expect death rates to start to go down in around 2020 or 2025 now that the new generation of women are smoking less."

Sarah Williams, of Cancer Research UK, said: "It's encouraging to see that overall the rate of people dying from cancer in Europe is predicted to continue falling." 

"Every year 157,000 children in the UK alone, start smoking. We must try to stem that tide."


What is the relationship between physical exercise and health?

There is a direct correlation between physical exercise and overall health. If you get a bit of regular exercise and don't totally "junk out" regarding your diet, you will, in general, be healthier than someone who doesn't exercise. There is no medical practitioner or physiologist alive who will disagree with this idea. Not a single one.

 It is not necessary to become a triathlete to improve your health, your quality of life, and your longevity. But your body responds to exercise in a unique way, a way that it will not respond to anything else. To cite a single example, you don't get 6-pack abs on any kind of diet with no exercise. But the good news is that you can eat some really good foods and not have to bust your buns in the gym to improve your health and your shape.

Connect with your health care practitioner and share your thoughts with him or her. And connect with family or friends who might want to make some changes. Think through the issues regarding exercise, diet and overall body health. Find your own "spot" in the spectrum, and make whatever changes you need to in order to get there. You absolutely have the power to do this, and, equally as important, only you can do it for yourself. But there is a caution.

There are no miracle pills or magic mechanisms that will substitute for "sensible" dieting and bit of regular exercising. Do not let anyone sell you any pie in the sky. Oh, it would be nice, but you just ain't gonna bag a healthy physique without a bit of personal effort. That includes a bit of sweat, and a bit of restraint and "retraining" of your taste buds. Anyone in disagreement is selling something, and is actually selling smoke and mirrors. Be smart about this one.

Your consciousness has been installed inside a biochemical machine, and the more you know about the machine and its workings, the better you can take care of it. You can shape and sculpt it, and tune it to razor sharpness. But pick a healthy lifestyle that is a good fit, and go for it. Little changes are generally more successful than wholesale overhauls. And you can totally do this.

Raghda Sawas

Study Shows Dietary Nutrients Associated With Certain Sleep Patterns

A new study showed for the first time that certain nutrients may play an underlying role in short and long sleep duration and that people who report eating a large variety of foods - an indicator of an overall healthy diet - had the healthiest sleep patterns, according to FNA.       

"You are what you eat," the saying goes, but is what you eat playing a role in how much you sleep? Sleep, like nutrition and physical activity, is a critical determinant of health and well-being. With the increasing prevalence of obesity and its consequences, sleep researchers have begun to explore the factors that predispose individuals to weight gain and ultimately obesity.

 The new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania is published online, ahead-of-print in the journal Appetite.

 "Although many of us inherently recognize that there is a relationship between what we eat and how we sleep, there have been very few scientific studies that have explored this connection, especially in a real-world situation," said Michael A. Grandner, PhD, instructor in Psychiatry and member of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at Penn. " In general, we know that those who report between 7 -- 8 hours of sleep each night are most likely to experience better overall health and well being, so we simply asked the question "Are there differences in the diet of those who report shorter sleep, longer sleep, or standard sleep patterns?" 

To answer this question, the research team analyzed data from the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NHANES includes demographic, socioeconomic, dietary, and health-related questions. The sample for the survey is selected to represent the U.S. population of all ages and demographics. For the current study, researchers used the survey question regarding how much sleep each participant reported getting each night to separate the sample into groups of different sleep patterns. Sleep patterns were broken out as "Very Short'' (<5 h per night), ''Short'' (5-6 h per night), ''Standard' (7-8h per night), and ''Long'' (9 h or more per night). 

NHANES participants also sat down with specially trained staff who went over, in great detail, a full day's dietary intake. This included everything from the occasional glass of water to complete, detailed records of every part of each meal. With this data, the Penn research team analyzed whether each group differed from the 7-8 hour "standard" group on any nutrients and total caloric intake. They also looked at these associations after controlling for overall diet, demographics, socioeconomics, physical activity, obesity, and other factors that could have explained this relationship. 

The authors found that total caloric intake varied across groups. Short sleepers consumed the most calories, followed by normal sleepers, followed by very short sleepers, followed by long sleepers. Food variety was highest in normal sleepers, and lowest in very short sleepers. Differences across groups were found for many types of nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.