School tells this 6th-grader to fix his haircut or face suspension

(CNN)Xavier Davis has a pretty simple haircut: two shaved lines on the side.

So imagine the family’s surprise when the sixth-grader was told by his teacher his haircut was a problem.
“I was walking into class, and she saw my hair and said, ‘You can’t have two lines in your hair. Go to the office,” Xavier told CNN affiliate KPRC.
    School officials with Cedar Bayou Junior High in Baytown, Texas, told Xavier to either fix the haircut or face in-school suspension.
    “He’s had his hair cut like this for six months and now all of a sudden it’s a problem?” Xavier’s father, Matt Davis, told the affiliate.
    Xavier’s mother came up with a creative solution. She used a permanent marker to color the spaces in.
    “In order for him to get an education, we have to treat his hair like a coloring book, I guess,” Davis said.
    CNN has reached out to the Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District for comment but have yet to hear back.
    The school district told KPRC that “letters, symbols, and designs beyond a single straight line which draw attention to an individual shall not be permitted.”
    “The administrator/supervisor reserves the right to determine if a hairstyle is disruptive to the educational process,” the statement said.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/26/health/texas-boy-controversial-haircut-trnd/index.html

    Prosecutor: ‘Brutal’ genital mutilation won’t be tolerated in US

    (CNN)Two Michigan doctors and a medical office manager were indicted Wednesday by a Detroit grand jury in the first federal female genital mutilation case in the United States.

    Detroit emergency room physician Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, internal medicine physician Dr. Fakhruddin Attar and his wife, Farida Attar, face one count of conspiracy to commit female genital mutilation, two counts of female genital mutilation and one count of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding.
    Doctors Nagarwala, 44, and Attar, 53, also face one count of conspiracy to transport a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity — a charge that carries a potential sentence of up to life in prison.
      Both doctors also face one count each of making a false statement to a federal officer.
      “Female Genital Mutilation has serious implications for the health and well-being of girls and women,” said Daniel Lemisch, acting US Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.
      “This brutal practice is conducted on girls for one reason, to control them as women. FGM will not be tolerated in the United States,” the prosecutor said in a statement. “The federal government is continuing this investigation to ensure those responsible are brought to justice.”
      The defendants have not entered pleas, but attorneys for all three argue their clients are not guilty of all charges.
      According to the indictment and a criminal complaint filed against Nagarwala, the investigation into Nagarwala and the Attars dates back to October of 2016. The FBI had received information that the banned procedure was being performed at the Attar’s medical office in Livonia, Michigan, west of Detroit. Court documents do not indicate the source of the information.
      Investigators saw two 7-year-old girls and their mothers arrive at the Burhani Medical Clinic, which Attar owns, after having traveled from Minnesota. Attar, his wife and Nagarwala were already inside.
      Investigators said interviews with the girls and medical exams conducted after the visit to the clinic, revealed both girls had been victims of female genital mutilation — a painful surgical procedure to remove part of the clitoris or clitoral hood to suppress female sexuality.
      Both girls, their parents and the three defendants are members of the Dawoodi Bohra Islamic sect, according to the criminal complaint.

      Indictment: Conspiracy dates back to 2005

      According to the indictment:
      — The three defendants had conspired to perform the procedure on girls under 18 years of age since 2005.
      — Attar allowed Nagarwala to perform the procedure at his clinic after it was closed for the day. He was present at the clinic during the procedure, while his wife, Farida, assisted Nagarwala in the examination room.
      — Attar and Nagarwala agreed to make false statements to law enforcement regarding whether the procedure took place.
      — The three defendants told others not to speak about the procedure and to lie to federal investigators about the procedure.
      — Attar and Nagarwala took steps to delete evidence.
      — Nagarwala told investigators she had never been present or had knowledge that this procedure was being performed on children.
      — Attar told investigators this procedure had not taken place at his clinic.

      Attorney: Procedure is ‘religious practice’

      The Attars were scheduled to be in court Wednesday for a detention hearing, but after the indictment was released that hearing was postponed until May 3.
      Dr. Attar’s attorney Mary Chartier, who spoke to reporters after Wednesday’s initial appearance, said her client is “not aware of any crimes committed at his clinic” and that “what happened at the clinic was not FGM.”
      “He was aware that Dr. Nagarwala used the clinic. He offered that to her and let her do that,” Chartier said. Chartier said that Attar was never present in the examination room and that he never “met these girls.”
      Chartier said that at the heart of her client’s defense is a misunderstanding over his religious practice. When asked to clarify what that practice was, she did not respond.
      “I do believe that the government does not fully understand the religious practices of Dr. Attar and Dr. Attar’s religion, and I think that’s why we are in this courthouse today, and what we’ll be fighting over for the next few months,” Chartier said.
      “They have a religious belief to practice their religion. And they are Muslims and they’re being under attack because of it. I believe that they are being persecuted because of their religious beliefs and I do not make that allegation lightly,” Chartier said.
      Farida Attar’s attorney, Matt Newburg, did not speak to reporters following the hearing. Over the weekend, he told CNN his “client has not admitted guilt.” He said she has not entered a plea, “but we look forward to defending the case against her.”
      In court, the Attars sat next to each other both wearing orange prison jumpsuits and religious head coverings. While being escorted back to jail, they waved to a supporter in the gallery and smiled.

      Nagarwala in court on Thursday

      Nagarwala is expected to be arraigned on Thursday at 1 p.m. in a Detroit federal court. She will remain in jail awaiting trial, after a federal judge deemed her a flight risk and a threat to the community.
      During a court hearing on April 17, Nagarwala’s attorney, Shannon Smith, told a judge the procedure did not involve cutting and was religious in nature, CNN affiliate WXYZ reported.
      Smith argued the procedure is practiced by the Dawoodi Bohra and that the clinic was used to keep procedures sterile, WXYZ reported.
      The Detroit Free Press reported that at the hearing that Smith said her client removed membrane from the girls’ genital area using a “scraper” as part of a religious practice. The girls’ parents would then bury the membrane in the ground in accordance with their religious custom, Smith said, according to the Free Press report.

      A crime or a religious practice?

      Leaders of the Dawoodi Bohra sect’s Michigan mosque released a statement Friday saying they are offering assistance to investigators, according to the Detroit News.
      “Any violation of US law is counter to instructions to our community members,” the statement said.
      “It is an important rule of the Dawoodi Bohras that we respect the laws of the land, wherever we live,” the statement continued. “This is precisely what we have done for several generations in America. We remind our members regularly of their obligations.”
      CNN’s calls to the sect’s headquarters and the mosques attended by the parents and the defendants were not returned.
      A 2012 US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found that roughly 513,000 women and girls in the United States were at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation, which was more than three times an earlier estimate based on 1990 data. The World Health Organization considers the procedure a violation of human rights of girls and women.
      No charges have been filed against the parents of the girls.
      The FBI has a tip line for victims of female genital mutilation, or anyone who might suspect such activity. They can call 800-CALL-FBI (225-5324) or submit a tip via FBI.GOV/FGM.

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/26/health/fgm-indictment-michigan/index.html

      Plain cigarette packaging could drive 300,000 Britons to quit smoking

      Review by research organisation Cochrane suggests impact of UKs ban on branded packs could echo results seen in Australia

      Plain cigarette cartons featuring large, graphic health warnings could persuade 300,000 people in the UK to quit smoking if the measure has the effect it had in Australia, scientists say.

      Standardised cigarette packaging will be compulsory in the UK from 20 May. A new review from the independent health research organisation Cochrane on the impact of plain packaging around the world has found that it does affect the behaviour of smokers.

      In the UK, the tobacco industry has become increasingly innovative in the design of cigarette packets as other controls on sales and advertising have taken hold, according to Ann McNeill, professor of tobacco addiction at Kings College London. The tobacco industry has been focusing its efforts on the tobacco packs, she said.

      Among those that will be banned are vibrant pink packets, targeted at young women, and gimmicky cartons that slide rather than flip open. The rules that come into force next month require all packs to look alike, with graphic health warnings across 65% of their surface.

      The Cochrane reviewers found 51 studies that looked at standardised packaging and its impact on smokers, but only one country had implemented the rule fully at the time. Australia brought in plain packs in 2012.

      Analysing the evidence from Australia, the team found a reduction in smoking of 0.5% up to one year after the policy was introduced. According to the Australian government, that translates to 100,000 people no longer smoking. The decline was attributable specifically to plain packaging, after taking into account the continuing drop in the numbers of smokers caused by other tobacco control measures.

      Dr Jamie Hartmann-Boyce of the Cochrane tobacco addiction group at Oxford Universitys Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences said: We are not able to say for sure what the impact would be in the UK, but if the same magnitude of decrease was seen in the UK as was observed in Australia, this would translate to roughly 300,000 fewer smokers following the implementation of standardised packaging.

      The review found signs that more people were trying to quit smoking as a result of plain cartons, rising from 20.2% before to 26.6% after introduction. There was also evidence that standardised packs were less attractive to those who did not smoke, making it less likely that they would start.

      However, the researchers say variations in the way countries are introducing standardised packs may affect the outcomes. Some allow different colours, slightly different carton shapes and the use of descriptive words such as gold or smooth.

      Cancer Research UK backs plain packaging. Smoking kills 100,000 people in the UK every year, so we support any effective measure which can help reduce this devastating impact. The evidence shows that standardised packaging works and helps to reduce smoking rates, said George Butterworth, the charitys tobacco policy manager.

      Its too soon to see the impact in the UK, as the new legislation will only be fully implemented in May, but we hope to see similar positive results as the UK strives towards a day when no child smokes tobacco. Cancer Research UK is continuing to evaluate the impact of standardised packaging in the UK and will share the lessons with other countries who are considering introducing them.

      Simon Clark, director of the smokers group Forest, said the idea that plain packaging would have an impact on the number of smokers in the UK was based on hope and anecdotal evidence.

      Since plain packaging was introduced in Australia, smoking rates have fallen, but only in line with historical trends, he said. Its grasping at straws to credit plain packaging with the continued reduction in smoking rates, because the most significant anti-smoking measure in recent years in Australia has been a massive increase in tobacco taxation. Like graphic health warnings, the novelty of plain packaging quickly wears off.

      Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/apr/27/plain-cigarette-packaging-could-drive-300000-britons-to-quit-smoking

      Cheap, widely available drug could stop thousands of mothers bleeding to death

      Tranexamic acid could save the lives of a third of women who die in childbirth from excessive bleeding, which kills 100,000 a year

      A cheap and widely available drug could save the lives of thousands of women who die in childbirth from excessive bleeding, one of the main killers of women worldwide.

      The drug, tranexamic acid, is available over the counter in the UK to women suffering from heavy periods. In Japan and the far east, it is used as a skin whitener. But now a very large study of 20,000 women in 21 countries has shown it can stop a third of cases of bleeding to death after giving birth.

      Haemorrhage after childbirth kills 100,000 women a year, mostly in low and middle-income countries. It is not only the women dying it is the impact on the child that has to grow up without a mother, children who might already be in the family and the husband, said associate professor Haleema Shakur from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who led the trial.

      This is of absolutely huge importance. While a single mother is dying, we need to keep fighting for them.

      The drug has already been proven to cut the death toll from bleeding after accidents in a trial of similar size. The latest trial, published in the Lancet medical journal, recruited more than 20,000 women who either gave birth in one of 193 hospitals involved or managed to get there after starting to bleed. They were randomly assigned either tranexamic acid or a placebo.

      The researchers found that tranexamic acid was most effective when it was given soon after the bleeding began. The trial was originally intended also to find out whether the drug saved women from having to undergo a hysterectomy the removal of the womb. But the scientists discovered that in many countries, where anaemia is common and blood supplies are limited, surgeons operated immediately as the surest way to save the womans life.

      If all women who haemorrhage after childbirth were given the drug, the trial suggests that 30,000 lives could be saved a year. In practice, that will be more difficult. Tranexamic acid was given in an intravenous injection in the hospitals, as the quickest way to have an effect. Many women give birth at home and may not get to a hospital in time.

      It is available in the form of a tablet for heavy periods, but absorption may take too long, said Shakur. They are now working on new ways to get it rapidly into womens systems perhaps as an injection in the arm muscle or as a capsule under the tongue. It is also possible that women deemed to be at high risk of haemorrhage could be given a tablet before they give birth. The trials have shown no side-effects, making the drug very safe.

      Of the two-thirds of women who died in spite of being given the drug, Shakur said some arrived at hospital too late, while others had underlying illness including severe malaria and anaemia which may have been the cause of death.

      It has taken a long time to show that the drug does work in the context it was designed for. Professor Ian Roberts from the London School, who co-led the study, said: The researchers who invented tranexamic acid more than 50 years ago hoped it would reduce deaths from postpartum haemorrhage, but they couldnt persuade obstetricians at the time to conduct a trial. Now we finally have these results that we hope can help save womens lives around the world.

      There are many next steps, said Shakur. We have to make sure tranexamic acid is available wherever a woman gives birth and is at risk, she said. We must make sure doctors and midwives are aware of the results of the study. And we need health ministers to make sure that the drug is available in their country and is on their shopping list of essential medicines.

      Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/apr/26/cheap-widely-available-drug-could-stop-thousands-of-mothers-bleeding-to-death-tranexamic-acid

      FDA cracks down on ‘illegal’ cancer treatments

      (CNN)The US Food and Drug Administration calls it “cruel deception”: companies promising desperate consumers that their products can cure cancer.

      On Tuesday, the agency responsible for policing the American food and drug market issued warning letters to 14 companies that it says are “illegally selling more than 65 products that fraudulently claim to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure cancer.”
      “There’s a couple of issues here,” Jason Humbert, a regulatory operations officer in the FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs, told CNN. “The FDA’s role is to review and evaluate products for safety and effectiveness, particularly products that are intended for the treatment of a disease like cancer. Cancer requires the supervision of a licensed health care provider.”
        The companies that received the warning letters are required by law to respond in a timely fashion, indicating whether they intend to pull the products under scrutiny from the market or alter the advertising and packaging to comply with the agency’s rules and regulations.
        “Failure to correct the violations promptly may result in legal action, including product seizure, injunction and/or criminal prosecution,” the FDA said in a statement.

        What products were targeted?

        Products included in this crackdown include pills, creams, ointments, oils, drops, syrups and teas. The FDA says they are most commonly marketed and sold online, especially on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
        The companies that received warning letters from the FDA are AIE Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Amazing Sour Sop Inc.; BioStar Technology International LLC; Caudill Seed & Warehouse Inc.; DoctorVicks.com; Everything Herbs; Hawk Dok Natural Salve LLC; Healing Within Products & Services Inc.; LifeVantage Corp.; Nature’s Treasure Inc.; Oxygen Health Systems LLC; Sunstone Inc.; The Vibrant Health Store LLC dba Dr. Christopher’s Herbs; and The Vitamin C Foundation. The entire list of product names (as well as the letters that were sent to each of the companies) can be found on the FDA’s website.
        Amazing Sour Sop said it is working to address the issues. DoctorVicks.com said it is updating product descriptions. In its statement to the FDA, AIE Pharmaceuticals, Inc. enumerated all the changes and deletions to its website and added that its Facebook pages “have been deleted which include all products.” Darren Jensen, CEO of LifeVantage replied that “We will respond to the FDA in a timely fashion and make any changes needed to further ensure our compliance.”
        Hawk Dok Natural Salve said it is changing its labels and maintains that it “has found the natural way to fight off cancer and the HPV virus.”
        A statement from The Vitamin C Foundation founder Owen Fonorow read, in part, “This is not the first time the FDA has attacked vitamin C trying to create the impression that vitamin C is an illegal drug. In my opinion, these attacks by the Government on vitamin C have little or nothing to do with the public interest or public health.”
        Nature’s Treasure declined to comment. The other companies have yet to respond to a request for comment.
        “Consumers should not use these or similar unproven products because they may be unsafe and could prevent a person from seeking an appropriate and potentially life-saving cancer diagnosis or treatment,” said Douglas W. Stearn, director of the FDA’s Office of Enforcement and Import Operations, in a written statement. “We encourage people to remain vigilant whether online or in a store, and avoid purchasing products marketed to treat cancer without any proof they will work. Patients should consult a health care professional about proper prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.”
        Humbert said that beyond postponing vital treatment, some of the products targeted in this crackdown contain ingredients that themselves could cause consumer harm. “There’s also concern that some of the products could interact with any medications or any other underlying conditions that consumers may have.”

        What should consumers look out for?

        “I think the biggest red flag would be that any product that hasn’t undergone FDA review is making a claim that it can treat or cure cancer,” Humbert said. “Only products that have been evaluated — approved FDA drugs — can make those claims. So if a consumer happens upon a website or a social media site and they see that this product is marketed as a natural cure for cancer or a natural treatment for cancer, they should be very skeptical, because unless that product has been evaluated by FDA, there’s no reason to believe it’s safe or effective for that use.”
        Although claims vary from product to product, the FDA says fraudulent cancer products “often use a particular vocabulary.” The agency identified these phrases as the most common red flags:
        • Treats all forms of cancer
        • Miraculously kills cancer cells and tumors
        • Shrinks malignant tumors
        • Selectively kills cancer cells
        • More effective than chemotherapy
        • Attacks cancer cells, leaving healthy cells intact
        • Cures cancer
        “The overarching point is that these products are untested, and some of the ingredients may present direct risk to the consumer’s health or interact with any medications they might be taking,” Humbert said. “They’re not a substitute for appropriate treatment, and using these products can not only endanger consumers’ health but waste their money and waste their time, as well.”

        See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

        Nicole Kornspan, a consumer safety officer at the FDA, said in a written statement that “Anyone who suffers from cancer, or knows someone who does, understands the fear and desperation that can set in. There can be a great temptation to jump at anything that appears to offer a chance for a cure.”
        Just remember the old saying: If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/25/health/cancer-treatments-illegal-fraudulent-misleading-fda/index.html

        Elton John cancels Las Vegas shows due to ‘potentially deadly’ infection

        The singer announced he was pulling out of several shows after contracting a bacterial infection in South America that led to two nights in intensive care

        Sir Elton John has pulled out of a series of concerts in Las Vegas due to an unusual bacterial infection he contracted in South America, which left him in intensive care.

        The singer announced he was pulling out of the shows on Monday in a statement that explained that he spent two nights in intensive care and was released on 22 April after becoming ill on a flight to the UK from Chile.

        During a recent, successful tour of South America, Elton contracted a harmful and unusual bacterial infection, the statement read.

        During his return flight home from Santiago, Chile he became violently ill. Upon returning to the UK, Eltons doctors admitted him to hospital, where he underwent immediate treatment to remove the infection. After spending two nights in intensive care followed by an extended stay in hospital, Elton was released from hospital.

        It added that the infection was rare and potentially deadly but that the stars medical team identified it quickly and that he is expected to make a full and complete recovery.

        Elton John also added: I am so fortunate to have the most incredible and loyal fans and apologise for disappointing them. I am extremely grateful to the medical team for their excellence in looking after me so well.

        The affected shows were part of the Million Dollar Piano show and were due to take place at Caesars Palace in April and May, while another gig in Bakersfield, California, on 6 May was also cancelled.

        The singer is expected to return for his scheduled gigs at Twickenham, in London on 3 June.

        Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/apr/24/elton-john-cancels-concerts-las-vegas-bacteria-infection

        Frozen hash brown recall due to possible ‘extraneous golf ball materials’

        (CNN)You have an early-morning golf match. You make coffee and contemplate the optimal breakfast to help you hit the ball straighter and calm those first-tee jitters.

        For now, skip frozen hash browns sold in nine states under the Harris Teeter and Roundy’s brands. The potatoes may contain pieces of golf balls, according to the hash brown maker.
        McCain Foods USA’s recall notice on the US Food & Drug Administration site says the hash browns could be “contaminated with extraneous golf ball materials” that “may have been inadvertently harvested with potatoes used to make this product.”
          “Consumption of these products may pose a choking hazard or other physical injury to the mouth,” says the notice of the voluntary recall.
          The have been no reported injuries, according to the company.
          McCain Foods is recalling 2-pound bags of Roundy’s Brand Frozen Southern Style Hash Browns from Marianos, Metro Market, and Pick ‘n Save supermarkets in Illinois and Wisconsin.
          It is also recalling 2-pound bags of Harris Teeter Brand Frozen Southern Style Hash Browns sold in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia and Maryland.
          The production code on the back of the packaging is B170119, the company says.
          The contaminated products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.
          McCain Foods has not responded to a request for further comment.

          Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/22/health/hash-brown-recall/index.html

          Stroke and dementia risk linked to low-sugar drinks, study finds

          Drinking a can of diet soft drink a day associated with almost three times higher risk, say researchers but critics warn against causal connection

          Consuming a can a day of low- or no-sugar soft drink is associated with a much higher risk of having a stroke or developing dementia, researchers claim.

          Their findings have prompted renewed questions about whether drinks flavoured with artificial sweeteners can increase the risk of serious illness, as heavily sugared drinks have already been shown to do.

          Drinking at least one artificially sweetened beverage daily was associated with almost three times the risk of developing stroke or dementia compared to those who drank artificially sweetened beverages less than once a week, according to the American researchers who carried out a study published in Stroke, the journal of the American Heart Association.

          After adjustments for age, sex, education (for analysis of dementia), calorific intake, diet quality, physical activity and smoking, higher recent and higher cumulative intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks were associated with an increased risk of ischaemic stroke, all-cause dementia and Alzheimers disease dementia, the co-authors write.

          Those consuming at least a can of so-called diet drinks every day were 2.96 times more likely to suffer an ischaemic stroke and 2.89 times more likely to develop Alzheimers disease than those who drank them less than once a week, they found.

          Ischaemic strokes occur when blood cannot get to the brain because of a blockage, often one caused by a blood clot forming in either an artery leading to the brain or inside a vein in the brain itself. They comprise the large majority of the 152,0000 strokes a year which occur.

          Surprisingly, though, the research also contradicted previous studies by finding that sugared drinks did not raise the risk of either serious outcome. It is based on data for more than 4,300 participants in the Framingham Heart Study, a long-term medical research project in the United States.

          To our knowledge, our study is the first to report an association between daily intake of artificially sweetened soft drink and increased risk of both all-cause dementia and dementia because of Alzheimers disease, the co-authors added.

          However, they admitted that they could not prove a causal link between intake of diet drinks and development of either medical condition because their study was merely observational and based on details people provided in questionnaires logging their food and drink habits.

          Matthew Pase, a senior fellow in the department of neurology at Boston Universitys school of medicine who was one of the co-authors, said that despite no evidence of a causal link, the apparent connection between sweetened drinks and the two conditions does identify an intriguing trend that will need to be explored in other studies.

          This is not the first time that sweetened drinks have been implicated in the development of serious ill-health. The paper quotes the Northern Manhattan study as having found that daily consumption of artificially sweetened soft drink was associated with a higher risk of combined vascular events but not stroke. It also cites the conclusion of the Nurses Health study and Health Professionals follow-up study that greater consumption of sugar and artificially sweetened soft drinks was each independently associated with a higher risk of incident stroke over 28 years of follow-up for women and 22 years of follow-up for men.

          Sales of diet versions of soft drinks have boomed in recent years as sales of fully sugared ones have declined sharply.

          Defras Family Food Survey, published last month, found that sales of regular soft drinks fell by 34.6% between 2010 and 2014, while low-calorie drinks purchases increased by 35.8%. Now just 38% of all soft drinks consumed are fully sugared, it said.

          However, experts and health charities warned against reading too much into the findings reported in Stroke.

          This research does not show that artificially sweetened drinks cause dementia. But it does highlight a worrying association that requires further investigation, said Dr James Pickett, head of research at Alzheimers Society.

          Naveed Sattar, professor of metabolic medicine at Glasgow University, said: This is an interesting paper, but I would strongly caution against the conclusion that artificially sweetened drinks may increase the risk of stroke and Alzheimers. There is little other strong evidence to support a link between artificially sweetened drinks and adverse health outcomes.

          The results could have been skewed by people who had already become ill before switching to low- or no-sugar drinks, Sattar added.

          Dr Mary Hannon-Fletcher, head of health sciences at Ulster University, said: These data are sound as far as they go. However, it is important to note the associations between recent and higher cumulative intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks and dementia were no longer significant after additional adjustment for vascular risk factors and diabetes mellitus as the editor also pointed out. So are the conclusions sound? Perhaps not.

          Gavin Partington, director general of the British Soft Drinks Association, said: Despite their claims, the authors of this observational study admit they found no cause and effect and provide no science-based evidence whatsoever to support their theories.

          In fact, based on the evidence, Public Health England is actively encouraging food and drink companies to use low-calorie sweeteners as an alternative to sugar and help people manage their weight.

          However, Tam Fry, a spokesman for the National Obesity Forum, warned consumers not to see low- or no-sugar drinks as healthy. Dont be fooled by the use of the word diet. Diet drinks were dreamed up as a description by an industry wanting to lull you into believing that it was a healthy thirst-quencher. Whether youre thin or fat and thirsty, and not near a good old-fashioned tap, buy yourself bottled water, Fry said.

          Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/apr/20/stroke-and-dementia-risk-linked-to-low-sugar-drinks-study-finds

          Apple cider vinegar: What the experts say

          (CNN)Apple cider vinegar is one of the most popular natural health products around, with claims for everything from sanitizing toothbrushes to whittling waistlines.

          But how much of its popularity is based on hype? Could you be wasting your time or — even worse — harming your health?
          Here are 10 of the top ways people are using apple cider vinegar and what the science says.

            Diabetes

            What’s the most popular use for apple cider vinegar? If a simple internet search is any measure, it involves diabetes.
            Dietitian Carol Johnston has been studying the effects of the main component of any vinegar, acetic acid, on diabetic blood glucose levels since 2004. She’s conducted 10 small randomly controlled studies and published six papers on the subject.
            Her studies indicate vinegar can help lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes; in those who are prediabetic, also called insulin-resistant; and even in healthy control subjects. The improvement was slight for all but those at risk for diabetes, she says.
            “In pre-diabetics, it was too good to be true,” says Johnston,who is also associate director of the Arizona State University’s School of Nutrition and Health. “It fell a good bit and stayed that way. It may be this is the group that could benefit the most.”
            But this antiglycemic response can be induced by any sort of vinegar, she says: red and white wine vinegars, pomegranate vinegar or even white distilled vinegar. She suggests adding it to salads, as in the Mediterranean diet, or diluting it in water and drinking it before a meal.
            “Basically, what acetic acid is doing is blocking the absorption of starch,” Johnston says. “If my study subjects eat a starch and add vinegar, glucose will go down. But if they drink sugar water and add vinegar, nothing happens. So if you’re having bacon and eggs, don’t bother. It only helps if you are consuming a starch.”
            If you choose to use apple cider vinegar, be sure to tell your doctor, says nutritionist Lisa Drayer.
            “If you’re taking a diabetes drug, the vinegar could amplify the effects of your meds,” she warns, “and your doctor might want to adjust your dosage.”
            Most important, if you’re expecting vinegar to significantly alter or prevent diabetes, science suggests you reconsider.
            Johnston notes that there is no evidence, in her studies or others, to establish that connection.
            “I simply determine if your glucose level goes up and down,” she says. “If I was to show that vinegar slows progression to diabetes, then I would need hundreds of people and millions of dollars to do the studies, because diabetes has a lot of causes, including genetics.”

            Weight loss

            Weight loss, or dieting, is another popular use for apple cider vinegar and there is some evidence that it can help.
            The most cited study was done with 175 heavy but otherwise healthy Japanese subjects. The 12-week treatment produced lower body weight, body mass index, visceral fat, waist measurements and triglyceride levels. Sounds great, right?
            “People didn’t really lose that much weight,” Drayer says. “Only 2 to 4 pounds in three months over a placebo. That’s only a third of a pound a week.”
            Johnston agrees the study showed “a very, very modest weight loss.’
            “In fact, I would say most people who are on a diet for 12 weeks and only lose a couple of pounds aren’t going to be very happy,” she adds.
            If you are using apple cider or other vinegars as one part of an overall plan, combining it with a healthy diet, portion control and exercise, it might help, Drayer says. She suggested using balsamic vinegar on salads, in a 4:1 ratio with oil, or adding it to sauces for poultry and fish.
            “If you were doing all the other things to lose weight, it might give you a slight edge,” Drayer says. “Also, if you’re drinking it in water, that’s good, as water makes you feel full.”
            “Sometimes, people get really excited to try something new, and then their other behaviors change, too,” she adds. “So if this helps people be more careful overall, that’s a good thing.”

            Teeth cleaning and whitening

            “Some people like to use it to remove stains and whiten their teeth,” according to one of many online articles touting apple cider vinegar for this purpose: “To try this, rub a small amount of apple cider vinegar onto your teeth with a cotton swab.”
            “I let out an audible gasp when I read about this!” says Chicago dentist and American Dental Association spokeswoman Alice Boghosian. “It made me cringe, to be honest with you. What are people doing?”
            “You’re putting acid on your teeth,” Boghosian continues, “the last thing you’d want to do to promote oral health. What would be a healthier option is to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes, with a whitening toothpaste with the ADA seal. That shows it’s been tested to do what it’s supposed to do.”
            Other articles promote rinsing your mouth with apple cider vinegar, soaking dentures with a diluted mixture or using it to clean a toothbrush.
            “You just have to rinse off your toothbrush, get all the toothpaste out, and let it air out. That’s all you have to do,” Boghosian says. “Cleaning dentures or rinsing with vinegar is not a good idea. It too could put your teeth at risk. And just think how it might affect the metal on partial dentures.”
            A pH of 7 is neutral, explains Boghosian; anything less is acid. She said many of today’s popular apple cider vinegars are in the 2 to 3 range — about the same as stomach acid.
            “Anything acidic which contacts your teeth will wear out the enamel, the protective coating, and that will cause cavities,” Boghosian adds. “So, this is totally, completely wrong, unless you want to be paying more visits to your dentist.”

            Skin, hair and nails

            Commonly suggested uses for apple cider vinegar across the internet include it’s useas a treatment for skin infections and acne, fighting lice and dandruff, as a natural wart remover and as an anti-aging treatment.
            “It will dry out a pimple, but it’s not an anti-aging method,” says dermatologist Dr. Marie Jhin, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Dermatology. “It might fade dark spots, or maybe you could use it as a skin toner, if you dilute it a great deal. But I wouldn’t recommend it. We have much more effective and safe methods today than this.”
            One use she can agree with: “I do love it for bites, especially mosquito bites. It’s a very underutilized home remedy. If you have a lot of bites, put two cups in a full tub of water and soak. It will help with itching,” she says.
            “It can also help with sunburn, although there are so many other good remedies,” Jhin adds. “We don’t usually suggest that to patients.”
            Apple cider vinegar might help with dandruff, says Jihn, because the acidity could increase the sloughing of the skin on the scalp, and it does have some antifungal properties.
            But don’t turn to it to get rid of head lice. One study found the use of vinegar to be the least effective method among several natural solutions; only petroleum jelly killed adult louse, but it did next to nothing to fight the eggs.
            Another use Jhin recommends:”I love vinegar for paronychia, an infection under the cuticle that a lot of people get,” Jhin says. She suggests mixing one-fourth cup of vinegar with three-fourths cup of water and soaking nails.
            But what about warts and other home uses?
            “Warts are caused by a virus, so there’s no cure,” Jihn explains. “You can dab a diluted version of apple cider vinegar on a wart with a Q-tip, and it’s going to help remove dead skin, which is what we do in the office by paring it down, cutting it out or burning it with liquid nitrogen. But it’s not going to be as fast or effective as what we do in the office.”
            American Academy of Dermatology spokesman Dr. Michael Lin, director of the Advanced Dermatology and Skin Cancer Institute in Beverly Hills, has a more negative perspective on home use.
            “I’ve had quite a few patients harmed by apple cider vinegar,” Lin explains. “One terrible example was a man trying to treat genital warts. When he came into the office, the entire area was raw, burned by the vinegar.
            “I don’t know if he was using it full-strength, but whatever he was doing it was too strong,” he continues. “He probably has permanent scarring from that natural home treatment.”
            Lin says he feels more comfortable recommending distilled white vinegar, as it is created to a standardized formulation of 5% acidity.
            “With apple cider vinegar, you don’t know what strength you’re getting,” Lin says. “It’s depends on the brand, and even among batches within a brand, you could get different concentrations of acidity.”
            “If you do choose to use apple cider vinegar, try to buy a name brand that clearly labels the acidity level. And whatever you do, don’t use it full-strength.”
            He suggests a 1:10 ratio.

            All-purpose cleaner

            Because of apple cider vinegar’s antimicrobial properties, it is often suggested as a natural cleanser for the home.
            The acid is effective against mold, but according to the Pesticide Research Institute, an environmental consulting firm, so are salt, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, tea tree oil and baking soda.
            Many of those also smell better.
            Apple cider vinegar is biodegradable, and because of its low pH, it’s great against alkaline grime such as hard water and mineral deposits, as well as soap scum.
            But it won’t cut grease. Why not? Just think of a simple oil and vinegar salad dressing. After mixing, the oil and vinegar quickly separate because oil is nonpolar, while vinegar and water are polar, meaning they are not attracted to each other.
            Will apple cider or other vinegars sanitize or disinfect your home? Probably not enough to make you feel germ-free.
            This 1997 study showed that undiluted vinegar had some effect on E. coli and salmonella, but a study conducted in 2000 showed no real impact against E. coli or S. aureus, the common staphylococcus bacteria responsible for most skin and soft tissue infections.
            That2000 study also showed vinegars to be quite effective against the waterborne bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa, mostly found in hospitals and untreated hot tubs. It was also effective against Salmonella choleraesuis, a rare pig-borne version of salmonella.
            If you do choose to use a vinegar to clean your home, never mix it with bleach or ammonia, because it will create toxic chlorine or chloramine gases.

            Food preservatives

            Used for centuries to preserve everything from pickles to pig’s feet, vinegar is now becoming popular as a natural preservative in processed meat and poultry items as well.
            Most home pickling uses 5% distilled white vinegar because it doesn’t affect the color of the vegetables or fruits, but apple cider vinegar is a popular choice due to its mellow, fruity flavor. Do know, however, that it will turn most fruits and veggies dark.
            Another popular use for apple cider, and other vinegars, is as a food wash to reduce bacteria or viruses on the surface of fruits and vegetables. Studies have had varying results, often depending on the type of fruit or vegetable and the amount of time spent in the vinegar solution.
            After listing a number of studies and results, the US Food and Drug Administration sums it up: “Vinegar and lemon juice have potential as inexpensive, simple household sanitizers; however, possible negative sensory effects [color, odor] when used on produce would be a disadvantage.”

            Cough and sore throat

            The use of vinegar medicinally starts with the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates. He would mix it with honey and use it for chronic coughs and sore throats, and the suggestion continues today across the internet.
            Many parents might think this is a natural and safe option for their children. The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t have an official stance on the use of apple cider or other vinegars as a health aid, but spokeswoman Dr. Jennifer Shu urges caution.
            “I would just think that the vinegar would irritate the throat even more,” says Shu, an Atlanta pediatrician and author of “Food Fights”. “But diluting it and mixing it with other ingredients such as salt or honey might decrease any pain that the vinegar might cause.”
            The University of Arizona’s Johnston cautions against trying any vinegar straight, due to the risk of inhaling the liquid and damaging the lungs.
            “Vinegar has that strong smell and puckering taste, so if you take a breath, you could inhale it into your lungs as you swallow,” she says. “It can burn the lungs a little, because it is an acid.”
            “It can also burn your esophagus,” says Dr. Andrew Freeman, director of cardiovascular prevention at National Jewish Health in Denver, Colorado. “And if you’re predisposed to reflux, ulcers or stomach problems, it could certainly make those worse.”

            Heart disease and cancer

            If you’re a rat worried about heart disease, put apple cider and other vinegars on your shopping list.
            Studies show the vinegar can reduce blood pressure, triglycerides and total cholesterol in rodents fed a high-fat, cholesterol-rich diet. But similar studies have not been conducted in humans.
            Freeman, who serves on the American College of Cardiology’s prevention board, says there could be some benefit due to its antioxidant properties, like other heart-healthy fruits and vegetables, such as broccoli and blueberries.
            “The data is not particularly strong or overwhelming, but vascular health may be enhanced,” Freeman says. “What’s best to avoid heart disease is to exercise and eat a low-fat, plant-based diet.”
            Freeman further recommends using apple cider or other vinegars on salads, to maximize the benefits and reduce any reactions to the acidity.
            What about cancer? Japanese scientists have inhibited the growth of human leukemia and other cancer cells in Petri dishes by exposing them to sugar cane vinegar and Japanese rice vinegar. Other studies showed a reduction in tumors and a prolonged life by adding rice vinegars to drinking water and food in rats and mice respectively.

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            Studies in humans are nonexistent.
            So, does apple cider vinegar measure up to its positive internet reputation? If you consider that almost any other vinegar will produce the same benefits, not so much.
            There arealsosome serious downsides, if used full strength and inappropriately. As the experts suggest, make sure you check with your doctor before giving it a try.
            “When do you a search for apple cider vinegar you see so many claims, and people will try it, searching for that natural cure-all,” says Drayer.
            “Whether any of those claims are based on science is another matter.”

            Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/18/health/apple-cider-vinegar-uses/index.html

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