viernes, 29 de agosto de 2014
jueves, 28 de agosto de 2014
The World Health Organization estimates that global levels of obesity have doubled since 1980. In 2012, more than 40 million children under the age of 5 were estimated to be overweight or obese, which is an issue of serious concern as excess body weight is believed to be the driver of many non-communicable diseases, namely type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer.
To tackle what is, in most cases, a preventable condition, there is increasing focus on research into understanding the mechanisms behind obesity, including our genetics and the influence of lifestyle and the environment. There is also now increased focus on introducing public health initiatives to aid long-term weight loss, which range from improving public, patient and healthcare provider education to policy reform regarding the sale of pre-packaged and processed foods.
To focus on these issues, BMC Medicine has launched an article collection that aims to explore the main contributing factors and possible solutions to tackle the worldwide impact of obesity.
Which are the culprits – sugars, starches or fats?
How much of what we eat makes us fat? This is an ongoing debate, fuelled most recently byRobert Lustig and his focus on sugar. On the question of sugar, a further debate arises – is itsucrose or fructose that has the most impact on obesity?
In an editorial to introduce the article collection in BMC Medicine, Jack Winkler, former Professor of Nutrition Policy at London Metropolitan University, and currently Director of Food & Health Research, discusses why it is so hard to measure which food components are associated with obesity.
Prof Winkler explains one of the many problems with this field is that data derived from large-scale studies depends on reliable and consistent reporting. However, this is a limiting factor simply because these studies rely on self-reported energy intake surveys, and as Prof Winkler reminds us, people are good at lying about how much they are actually eating.
“The lies people tell about their food may be white lies, but they are large lies….. In one study of soft drinks, subjects in the National Diet and Nutrition Survey claimed to be drinking barely a quarter of the products that manufacturers reported they were selling”
The consequences of obesity
There is no question that obesity places a burden on healthcare services. Earlier this year,Gillian Reeves and colleagues showed that elevated body mass index (BMI) in UK women is associated with increased hospital admissions equating to around 420,000 extra admissions annually, indicating that current obesity levels are directly impacting UK healthcare services.
Primary care physicians are usually the first in line to treat patients with obesity related diseases, although patients may not be visiting their GP to directly ‘treat’ their obesity. As David Haslam, a GP and physician specializing in obesity at the Centre for Obesity research explains, the role of primary care in managing obesity is complicated in the UK by ineffective or contradictory policies. In his commentary published as part of this article collection, Prof Haslam starkly points out:
“Obesity prevention has failed. If nobody in the UK gains another single ounce, there are enough already obese people to make epidemics of diabetes, then heart disease then premature death inevitable.”
Prof Haslam, who also serves as Chair of the National Obesity Forum, highlights that obesity can be most effectively managed by individualization of care, which should be implemented through effective screening and risk management. After all, not all patients will benefit from weight loss. Prof Haslam discusses the obesity paradox in his commentary, and recent evidence on this includes a meta-analysis we published this year by Wie Nie and colleagues, showing that an obesity paradox exists for pneumonia – i.e. obese individuals have an increased risk of pneumonia but a decreased risk of pneumonia mortality, indicating a survival advantage for obese individuals.
However, in most cases, obesity and diet are considered as a causal risk factor for chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Recently, Elin Hall and colleagues showed that exposing pancreatic islet cells to the free fatty acid palmitate results in differential gene expression and epigenetic modifications, which may influence type 2 diabetes risk through impaired insulin secretion in these treated cells.
In an Opinion article, Naveed Sattar and Jason Gill discuss the plausible link between type 2 diabetes and ectopic fat around organs such as the liver and pancreas. In their article, they explain that studies have shown accumulation of ectopic fat around the liver leads to insulin resistance, and they also hypothesize that fat around the pancreas could lead to β-cell dysfunction. Prof Sattar and Dr Gill ask a very provocative question: can type 2 diabetes be reversed by loss of ectopic fat around key organs?
Taking action on obesity
So, what should be done about the rising levels of obesity? One of the physicians leading the issue is John Wass, a consultant physician and endocrinologist, and also Chair of the Working Party for Action on Obesity.
I interviewed Prof Wass about the goals of the working party, which aims to tackle the rise of obesity in the UK by filling current gaps in knowledge and support within the healthcare and medical education systems. Prof Wass highlights that educating the public about healthy eating, and collaborations with the food industry on how to responsibly sell and label foods, is key to improving public health.
There is also ongoing debate about whether or not obesity should be considered as a disease. On this, Prof Wass explains that as obesity is a condition that needs to be actively managed it can be labelled as a disease, and unless it is recognized as such, prevention and management strategies will not be taken seriously.
miércoles, 27 de agosto de 2014
New research published today in Genome Biology shows that RNA sequencing could lead the way towards more personalized treatments for prostate cancer. In this guest post, Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK discusses what this could mean for patients and health services, and what more is needed to provide effective support and treatment for men with prostate cancer.
We are used to hearing and talking about prostate cancer as a single disease. Albeit a disease with its tigers and pussycats – the tigers being the aggressive cancers that move out of the prostate gland to other parts of the body, and the pussycats being those cancers that may never cause any harm and won’t go on to kill. But it’s never quite as simple as that is it?
More and more we hear clinicians and research scientists talk about ‘prostate cancers’ plural. This is largely down to the introduction of genomic sequencing which has allowed researchers to identify and examine large numbers of prostate tumors, which initiate and progress in different ways. Add to this, the genomic variations in the men themselves, and suddenly the world of detecting and treating cancers of the prostate becomes a lot more complicated – not that it was ever simple to begin with!
What the paper published today by Drs Collins and Wyatt from the Vancouver Prostate Centre does so well is apply state-of-the art RNA sequencing technology to a real life situation. So on top of the information we know at the whole genome level, they looked at which genes were being used and disrupted at the point when the tumor was collected. Being able to match this up with how these men and their tumors had responded to different treatments meant that the researchers could then see which treatments work best for the different tumor types.
So in theory, by knowing more about the tumor and the man who has the tumor, researchers will be able to develop more personalized or tailored treatments for individuals. As a result, clinicians will be armed with a much clearer idea as to which treatments will work most effectively and speculation will be a thing of the past.
However, there is a ‘but’. The researchers here only looked at 25 tumors and were surprised by the sheer number of genomic differences between them. Forty-thousand men are newly diagnosed with prostate cancer each year in the UK and there are 250,000 men in this country living with the disease – so how much variation will there be when the number of tumors examined in this way increases?
The challenge lies in how we translate this fantastically elegant research into real life benefits for these men and those at risk of prostate cancer. And what’s more – let’s not kid ourselves that it is only prostate cancer that is looking to tailor treatments – every other disease is working to the same aim, putting tremendous pressure on health services, which will need to cope with the increased expense of diagnosing and managing disease at an individual level.
At Prostate Cancer UK, we strongly support the development of new tailored treatments for men with prostate cancer. However, allied to that aim is an ambition to be able to take some men out of the system – those men whose cancer will never spread.
We feel that alongside developing better treatments, the global research community needs to develop a more robust risk assessment tool that can be used in multi-ethnic populations, delivered through primary care reasonably simply and in a cost-effective way. By doing this in prostate cancer we should be able to concentrate limited healthcare resources on those who need it most – those with, or at high risk of, aggressive prostate cancers.
There is absolutely no doubt that this is a really exciting time for prostate cancer research. The results from this research will help build a better picture of what is going on and I’m confident that in the future it can lead to important health benefits for men with, and at high risk of, aggressive prostate cancer.
But that fight needs resources – both financial and human – to succeed. It is clear that we must keep building on research successes such as the one reported here, but for this to be possible, more funding is needed to support more scientists through their research endeavors in order to achieve real benefits for men.
Tomado de blogs.biomedcentral.com