American AIDS Volunteers Freed on Bail in Zimbabwe
Four Americans—a doctor, two nurses, and a community organizer—have been released on bail after being arrested in Zimbabwe last week. They are accused of treating AIDS patients without proper medical licenses, the Associated Press reports. They must reappear in court on September 27 and could face a fine and deportation; they have been ordered to surrender their passports and live at an orphanage until the trial. The volunteers, all members of the Allen Temple Baptist Church AIDS Ministry in California, are charged with dispensing AIDS medications without the supervision of a pharmacist or proper licenses. For the past decade, the church has sent volunteers to Zimbabwe at least three times a year, but this is the first time licensing questions have been raised. On this trip, the volunteers brought enough antiretroviral drugs to treat 800 AIDS patients.
Leukemia Drug Shelved After Failing Trial
In a disappointing setback, an experimental drug for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a deadly blood cancer, will be discontinued because it failed to improve survival of patients involved in a clinical trial. The drug called lintuzumab—an antibody combined with a low-dose of chemotherapy—did not benefit the 211 previously untreated study participants, licensing company Seattle Genetics announced Monday. Although lintuzumab "didn't harm any patients,'' researchers didn't find a "statistically meaningful benefit," the company's chief executive Clay B. Siegall told The New York Times. About 12,000 new cases of AML arise each year, and the disease kills 9,000 people annually, according to the American Cancer Society. More than half of those affected are elderly; many are unable to tolerate high-dose chemotherapy, which is the standard treatment for AML.
The Best Low-Carbohydrate Diet? One That's Plant-Based
Since its debut in the '80s, the Atkins diet and similar low-carb menus have swung back and forth, lauded and vilified, several times over. Some supporters say they're a fast track to weight loss with less hunger, while detractors say they're too restrictive and don't provide enough fuel—carbohydrates break down to glucose, which powers the body and brain. New research could tip the scales once again in favor of low carbs, U.S. News reports. According to a study published last week in the Annals of Internal Medicine, a low-carb diet may reduce the risk of death from all medical causes, especially heart disease—if it's heavy on proteins and fats from plants, not animals. A low-carb regimen heavy on meat raised the risk of dying from cancer and other medical causes, the researchers found after following more than 85,000 women for 26 years and 44,000 men for 20 years.
"It's no big surprise, because the animal-protein diet will have lots of saturated fat and cholesterol, and the plant-based diet will have unsaturated fats, which lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes," says study coauthor Walter Willett, chair of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. "Low-carb diets are neither good nor bad—it's what we're replacing those carbs with that's important. It's making choices among your protein and fat sources, and choosing to emphasize the plant sources."
The study highlights the Eco-Atkins diet popularized in 2009 by David Jenkins, a nutritional scientist at the University of Toronto in Canada, who is credited with developing the eating plan. High in plant proteins and rich in fruits and vegetables, it is touted by the study authors as an ideal example of a healthy low-carb diet. While the study does not suggest such a diet will make you live longer, Eco-Atkins has been shown to improve cholesterol levels and promote weight loss, says Jenkins. [Read more: The Best Low-Carbohydrate Diet? One That's Plant-Based.]
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