London, Mar 20 (AP/UNB) — Smoking high-potency marijuana every day could increase the chances of developing psychosis by nearly five times, according to the biggest-ever study to examine the impact of pot on psychotic disorder rates.
The research adds to previous studies that have found links between marijuana and mental health problems, but still does not definitively pinpoint marijuana as the cause.
Psychotic disorders — in which people lose touch with reality — are typically triggered by factors including genetics and the environment. But experts say the new study's findings have implications for jurisdictions legalizing marijuana, warning they should consider the potential impact on their mental health services.
"If we think there's something particular about (high-potency) cannabis, then making that harder to get a hold of, could be a useful harm-reduction measure," said Suzanne Gage, of the University of Liverpool, who was not connected to the new study.
Researchers at King's College London and elsewhere analyzed data from a dozen sites across Europe and Brazil from 2010 to 2015. About 900 people who were diagnosed with a first episode of the disorder at a mental health clinic, including those with delusions and hallucinations, were compared with more than 1,200 healthy patients. After surveying the patients about their use of cannabis and other drugs, researchers found daily marijuana use was more common among patients with a first episode of psychosis compared with the healthy, control group.
The scientists estimated that people who smoked marijuana on a daily basis were three times more likely to be diagnosed with psychosis compared with people who never used the drug. For those who used high-potency marijuana daily, the risk jumped to nearly five times. The paper was published online Tuesday by the journal Lancet. It was paid for by funders including Britain's Medical Research Council, the Sao Paulo Research Foundation and the Wellcome Trust.
"If you decide to use high-potency marijuana, you should bear in mind: Psychosis is a potential risk," said Dr. Marta Di Forti, of King's College London and the study's lead author. She said it was unknown how frequently people could smoke lower-potency marijuana without raising their likelihood of psychosis, but that less than weekly use appeared to pose no risk.
Di Forti and colleagues estimated that in Amsterdam, about half of new psychosis cases were associated with smoking high-potency pot.
Gage noted that it was possible that people with a family history of psychosis or other risk factors might be more susceptible to developing problems like psychosis or schizophrenia if they used cannabis.
"That could be the thing that tips the scale for some people," she said. "Cannabis for them could be an extra risk factor, but it definitely doesn't have to be involved. If you use cannabis, it doesn't mean you are definitely going to develop psychosis."
Dhaka, March 19 (UNB)- Nothing sounds more delectable than a warm thali (plate) of good Bengali or Indian food when you’re craving something desi and Kolkata’s famous, ‘The Bhoj Company’, ticks all the right boxes when it comes to just that. Luckily for Dhaka residents, Bhoj has a franchise right in this city.
Located at Banani, they have quickly managed to make themselves known to food enthusiasts all over town. This particular visit of mine was to give their Indian dishes a try and boy have I been pleased! Our table ordered all kinds of Kabab you could dream of. From Tangri Kabab to Chicken Reshmi we had it all. However, what I was looking forward to were the classics; Palak Paneer and Butter chicken with some good of naan.
The Palak Paneer is a very traditional Indian dish mostly popular amongst Shakaharis/Vegetarians in India. Upon serving, the vibrant green colour was quick to catch my eye and I couldn’t wait to dig in. My verdict? This dish is probably the best Palak Paneer I have tasted. The ponir cubes had a spongy texture and acted as an amazing replacement of meat. The Spinach was puréed to perfection and had a mellow flavour of different spices. While the dish tasted amazing by itself, the butter naan was highly disappointing. Instead of having an infused flavou of butter to the naan, it was dripping with it to the extent that blobs of oily mess fell on the table when it was being served. Some may prefer it this way but most people don’t so this one was a miss.
The Butter Chicken and Tandoori Prawn were two more such hits! This was not my first time trying their Butter Chicken. I already knew how good it was and awaited the responses of those around me and surely they had caved in. The rich sauce went extremely well with the plain naans and even better with the garlic ones. The mixture of different spices were just enough to be handled in fact, since the dish is cooked with a tomato base and tons of butter, it gives out a taste on the sweeter side.
If there was one prawn dish I would have to recommend you in town, it would probably be this one from Bhoj. Despite of them being medium-big sized prawns and still being intact in their shells, I was surprised how the chef managed to pack so much of flavour into them. The prawns were succulent and cooked to perfection with a slight char flavour to it.
The Daal Makhni was rather a humble looking bucket. It tasted weirdly bitter and below bland. Other misses were probably the Reshmi Chicken, Tandoori Aloo, and Chicken Reshmi. But with the delicious Butter Chicken, Palak Paneer, and Tandoori Prawn I had just eaten. I think I can let these pass for now.
By: Ifreet Taheea
Washington, Mar 18 (AP/UNB) — As ominous music plays in the background, the narrator of a radio ad echoes objections from drugmakers by warning that a Trump administration proposal to apply international pricing to certain Medicare drugs would be a nightmare for seniors.
The one-minute spot is the handiwork of the Alliance for Patient Access, a nonprofit group that gives off a consumer-friendly vibe yet is bankrolled by the powerful pharmaceutical industry. It's also closely aligned with a Washington lobbying and public relations firm, Woodberry Associates, whose president, Brian Kennedy, is the nonprofit's executive director.
As Congress and the Trump administration aim to lower prescription drug costs, outside groups like the Alliance for Patient Access are seeking to sway the outcome. But not all of these organizations are clear about who they actually represent. Their names can obscure the source of the message and they're cagey about where they get their funding.
Yet even a small degree of separation can be valuable for pharmaceutical companies at a time when the industry faces stiff political headwinds. Drug prices may provide a rare bipartisan issue on which Congress and the White House could collaborate on legislation ahead of the 2020 elections. In a prelude of sorts, the Senate Finance Committee last month grilled drug company executives over the cost of their products.
Anger is bubbling up from their constituents. A February poll by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found nearly one in four Americans taking prescription drugs have difficultly affording their medications. Although majorities of the public trust pharmaceutical companies to develop new and effective drugs, only 25 percent trust them to price their products fairly — down from 41 percent in 2008.
Susan Hepworth, a spokeswoman for the Alliance and Woodberry, described the nonprofit as "a national network of physicians that advocates for patient access to the medicines they prescribe."
Through the Alliance, she said, doctors "can share their perspectives about the benefits of respecting the physician-patient relationship, clinical decision making and personalized, patient-centered health care." It's no surprise, Hepworth said, that the group's backers include companies that manufacture medicines.
She declined to answer questions about the radio ad. The one-minute spot singles out for criticism a Trump administration proposal to gradually shift Medicare payments for drugs administered in doctors' offices to a level based on international prices.
Prices in other countries are lower because governments directly negotiate with manufacturers. But drugmakers have assailed the Trump plan, arguing it smacks of government price-setting and would lead to socialized health care.
The Alliance's radio spot makes the same argument, using nearly identical language. Under the Trump proposal, the ad says, "cancer treatment would be paid based on rates from countries with European-style health care, where access to new medicine is rationed and patients often wait months for care."
Tax filings for 2015 through 2017, the most recent available, show the Alliance has paid Woodberry's consultants more than $1 million. Brendan Fischer of the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center said the transactions may raise red flags.
"Nonprofits are supposed to promote social welfare, not operate to provide a private benefit to any person or entity," Fischer said. "A nonprofit could run afoul of tax law if it is substantially benefiting a nonprofit officer's for-profit consulting firm."
Hepworth said Woodberry is a consultancy with a division that specializes in nonprofit coalition management and that the money paid to the firm's people represents a small amount of the Alliance's expenditures for those years.
The Alliance "files all of the appropriate paperwork with the IRS and takes the extra step of making available on its website a current list of its supporters," according to Hepworth. The link to this list takes a bit of searching to find, however.
The Alliance's money comes from more than three dozen associate members and financial supporters, which include several of the largest pharmaceutical companies. Among them are AbbVie, manufacturer of Humira, the blockbuster drug for immune system conditions; AstraZeneca, maker of the cholesterol drug Crestor; Bristol-Myers Squibb, maker of the blood thinner Eliquis; and Pfizer, maker of Lyrica for nerve pain.
The group's leaders are medical doctors based outside of Washington; those identified in the tax records as directors aren't paid for the one hour per month, on average, of work they do for the nonprofit. But several of them have earned tens of thousands of dollars in consulting and speaker fees from the health care industry, including companies that back the Alliance.
For example, Dr. Jack Schim, a neurologist in California and an Alliance director, was paid nearly $329,000 between 2015 and 2017, with the bulk of the money coming from Allergan, maker of wrinkle treatment Botox, according to a database maintained by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Schim was one of the top-ranking physicians in his specialty for these payments.
While the Alliance names its supporters, it doesn't disclose how much each has contributed. Federal rules permit groups structured as tax-exempt social welfare organizations to say little about their benefactors.
Social welfare organizations like the Alliance also may engage in limited political activities so long as politics isn't their primary focus. Known by their IRS designation as 501(c)(4)s, they typically are civic-minded groups such as homeowner associations and volunteer fire departments.
The Alliance spent $13.6 million in 2015 and 2016 on awards to recognize dozens of members of Congress who, according to Hepworth, "have championed patient access in the Medicare program." The lawmakers, who are barred by ethics rules from accepting monetary gifts, are presented with a plaque and are praised in press releases and advertisements. Recent recipients include Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.
Tax records for the drugmakers' influential trade association, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, provide a bit of insight into the Alliance's finances. The association, known as PhRMA, identifies the recipients of its grants and contributions. It donated more than $1.8 million to the Alliance between 2009 and 2016 and since 2016 gave another $215,000 to two smaller offshoots — the Institute for Patient Access and the Global Alliance for Patient Access.
PhRMA's largest single contribution, $1.4 million, came in 2016 when Trump, then a candidate for president, and Democratic contender Hillary Clinton rattled drug companies with their pledges to take aggressive steps to bring down prescription medication costs.
"Groups like the Alliance for Patient Access often act as foils for the pharmaceutical industry instead of advancing patient interests," said Steven Knievel of the nonpartisan watchdog group Public Citizen. "They advocate for policies where industry and patient interests align. But any time drug prices are on the table, they toe the line of their corporate backers."
Kennedy, a former top official at the Republican Governors Association, registered the Alliance in June 2006 in Iowa; he lists an address in Bettendorf on the certificate. He registered Woodberry Associates as an LLC nearly five months later, also in Iowa. Kennedy is the Alliance's executive director and Woodberry's president. The nonprofit and the business share an office in downtown Washington.
The bulk of the more than $1 million paid to Woodberry between 2015 and 2017 was for consulting services that Hepworth said ranged from managing Alliance working groups to the development and promotion of white papers, podcasts and social media posts. Kennedy also received more than $457,000 in reimbursements for travel, hotels and catering contracts.
Mar 16 (AP/UNB) -The latest U.S. research on eggs won't go over easy for those who can't eat breakfast without them.
Adults who ate about 1 ½ eggs daily had a slightly higher risk of heart disease than those who ate no eggs. The study showed the more eggs, the greater the risk. The chances of dying early were also elevated.
The researchers say the culprit is cholesterol, found in egg yolks and other foods, including shellfish, dairy products and red meat. The study focused on eggs because they're among the most commonly eaten cholesterol-rich foods. They can still be part of a healthy diet, but in smaller quantities than many Americans have gotten used to, the researchers say.
U.S. dietary guidelines that eased limits on cholesterol have helped eggs make a comeback.
The study has limitations and contradicts recent research, but is likely to rekindle the long-standing debate about eggs.
The new results were published online Friday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine and elsewhere pooled results from six previous studies, analyzing data on almost 30,000 U.S. adults who self-reported daily food intake. Participants were followed for roughly 17 years, on average.
The researchers calculated that those who ate 300 milligrams of cholesterol daily — about 1 ½ eggs — were 17 percent more likely to develop heart disease than whose who didn't eat eggs.
The researchers based their conclusions on what participants said they ate at the start of each study. They took into account high blood pressure, smoking, obesity and other traits that could contribute to heart problems. Risks were found with eggs and cholesterol in general; a separate analysis was not done for every cholesterol-rich food.
Dr. Bruce Lee of Johns Hopkins University, said nutrition studies are often weak because they rely on people remembering what they ate.
"We know that dietary recall can be terrible," said Lee. The new study offers only observational data but doesn't show that eggs and cholesterol caused heart disease and deaths, said Lee, who wasn't involved in the research.
Senior author Norrina Allen, a preventive medicine specialist, noted that the study lacks information on whether participants ate eggs hard-boiled, poached, fried, or scrambled in butter, which she said could affect health risks.
Some people think '"I can eat as many eggs as I want'" but the results suggest moderation is a better approach, she said.
Eggs are a leading source of dietary cholesterol, which once was thought to be strongly related to blood cholesterol levels and heart disease. Older studies suggesting that link led to nutrition guidelines almost a decade ago that recommended consuming no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol daily; one egg contains about 186 milligrams.
Newer research questioned that relationship, finding that saturated fats contribute more to unhealthy levels of blood cholesterol that can lead to heart problems.
The latest U.S. government nutrition guidelines, from 2015, removed the strict daily cholesterol limit. While eating as little cholesterol as possible is still advised, the recommendations say eggs can still be part of a healthy diet, as a good source of protein, along with lean meat, poultry, beans and nuts. Nutrition experts say the new study is unlikely to change that advice.
Dr. Frank Hu of Harvard University noted that most previous studies have shown that eating a few eggs weekly is not linked with risks for heart disease in generally healthy people.
"I don't think that this study would change general healthy eating guidelines" that emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and beans and limiting processed meats and sugar, Hu said. Eggs, a breakfast staple for many, can be included but other options should also be considered, "like whole grain toast with nut butter, fresh fruits, and yogurt," Hu said.
Dr. Rosalind Coleman, a professor of nutrition and pediatrics at the University of North Carolina, offered broader advice.
"The main message for the public is not to select a single type of food as 'bad' or 'good' but to evaluate your total diet in terms of variety and amount.
"I'm sorry if it seems like a boring recommendation," she added, but for most people, the most important diet advice "should be to maintain a healthy weight, to exercise, and to get an adequate amount of sleep."
London, March 5 (Xinhua/UNB) -Exposure to social media marketing of unhealthy food could lead to an immediate increase in children's intake of unhealthy food with more calories, a new study published in Pediatrics Monday suggested.
With an aim to examine the impact of social media marketing of snack foods on children's snack intake, researchers of the University of Liverpool in Britain designed a control experiment which consisted of 176 participants aged nine to 11.
The participants were randomly split into three equal groups with each assigned to one of three influencer-marketing conditions: healthy food marketing, unhealthy food marketing, and non-food marketing, and shown artificially created social media pages of popular vloggers consuming different kinds of food.
The result showed that children in the group that viewed unhealthy snack images consumed 31.5 percent more calories from unhealthy snacks specifically, and 25.5 percent more calories in total compared with children who saw non-food images (the control group).
According to the study, even though acute experimental exposure to influencers promoting unhealthy food on social media revealed direct influence on children's food intake, healthy food endorsements on social media had little or no effect on them regarding healthy food intake.
"Tighter restrictions are needed around the digital marketing of unhealthy foods that children are exposed to, and vloggers should not be permitted to promote unhealthy foods to vulnerable young people on social media," Anna Coates, a member of the research team, said in a report published on the university's website.