Medical ecology: tending the microbiome

Today, the Obama administration announces the new National Microbiome Initiative, intended to create scientific tools, discoveries and training techniques related to the human microbiome, the 100 trillion microbes that live in the human body. Tending the human microbiome may help in the treatment of infections, as well as disorders that would seem unrelated to microbes, including obesity andContinue reading “Medical ecology: tending the microbiome”

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Avoid peanut allergy by early introduction of peanuts

A study released today in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that giving infants small amounts of peanut butter in their first year of life substantially reduced the prevalence of peanut allergy when compared to infants who avoided peanuts for their first year. The investigators found that the safeguard lasted for a year after the children stoppedContinue reading “Avoid peanut allergy by early introduction of peanuts”

Coffee: to drink or not to drink

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 90% of people worldwide, and 80% in the US, consume caffeine in some form every day. The average adult has an intake of about 200 milligrams, or roughly one cup of coffee per day. As one of those few non-coffee-drinking adults–probably rarer still among emergency medicine providers–I was intrigued by  today’s New YorkContinue reading “Coffee: to drink or not to drink”

Personalized preventive medicine

Much research and media attention have focused on personalized medicine.  The National Cancer Institute defines personalized medicine as “a form of medicine that uses information about a person’s genes, proteins, and environment to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease.”  Although this definition includes prevention, much of the focus of personalized medicine has been on treatments, with aContinue reading “Personalized preventive medicine”

2015 Dietary Guidelines: a gallon of lobbying and a pinch of nutrition science?

New federal dietary guidelines issued last week by the Agriculture and Health and Human Services Departments, urge Americans to drastically cut back on sugar, and for the first time have singled out teenage boys and men for eating too much meat, chicken and eggs. The biggest change is restricting added sugar: Americans consume up to 22 teaspoons aContinue reading “2015 Dietary Guidelines: a gallon of lobbying and a pinch of nutrition science?”

Limerick version of In Defense of Food

This poem is inspired by Michael Pollan’s PBS documentary In Defense of Food, available here for free viewing until the end of the month: The wisdom Michael Pollan incants– Eat food, not too much, mostly plants— Is simple declared Yet we’re easily ensnared By the food industry’s science-y dance. So here are some other wise rulesContinue reading “Limerick version of In Defense of Food”

Will prevention ever be sexy?

As a pediatric emergency medicine provider, many of the reasons patients show up in the Emergency Department are related to symptoms–a fever, cough, rash, ache, nausea, runny nose, diarrhea, etc.  What is this causing it? What will make it go away as soon as possible? A commentary on NPR’s Shots series notes that, often, despiteContinue reading “Will prevention ever be sexy?”

The bitter truth about Coke-funded “research”

The Coca-Cola Company is retreating from the research program it has funded in an effort to distract consumers from the role of sugary soft drinks in obesity and associated morbidity and mortality.  Emails released by the Associated Press show some of the role Coca-Cola took in shaping the Global Energy Research Network’s research agenda. Last month my academic setting, theContinue reading “The bitter truth about Coke-funded “research””

The Antibiotic Apocalypse

I am hopeful that these ominous wake-up calls here and here from the BBC  will lead to policy change, especially related to policies that permit widespread use of antibiotics in livestock feed.  Consumers Union posted a policy summary here and the Center for Disease Control’s website gives a more in-depth look here.