Indian-origin Doctors in the US Link Bladder Pill to Retinal Damage

The research was presented on Saturday at "AAO 2019", the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology at Moscone Center in San Francisco

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Among the various retinal disorders, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic macular edema (DME) are the major types that account for about 8.7 per cent and 4.8 per cent of blindness in the world respectively.
The doctors took detailed images of the back of their eyes. Pixabay

A team of Indian-origin doctors in the US has found that a drug widely prescribed for a bladder condition for decades globally, now appears to be toxic to the retina.

After an initial report last year that Elmiron (pentosan polysulfate sodium) may be associated with retinal damage, three ophthalmologists conducted a review of patients at Kaiser Permanente in northern California.

They found that about one-quarter of patients with significant exposure to Elmiron showed definite signs of eye damage.

This medication toxicity could masquerade as other known retinal conditions, such as age-related macular degeneration or pattern dystrophy.

“It’s unfortunate. You have a patient with a chronic condition like interstitial cystitis, for which there is no cure and no effective treatment.

“They get put on these medications because it’s thought to have few side effects and few risks, and no one thinks about it again. And year after year, the number of pills they’re taking goes up and up,” said Robin A. Vora from Kaiser Permanente.

Interstitial cystitis causes chronic pain in the bladder and pelvis area.

Elmiron is the only FDA-approved pill to treat it and is being prescribed in India too for years.

As a mainstay of treatment for decades, hundreds of thousands of people have likely been exposed to the drug.

Last year, Nieraj Jain of Emory Eye Center in Atlanta, Georgia, reported that six patients who had been taking Elmiron for about 15 years had developed unusual changes in their macula, the central part of the retina responsible for delivering clear, crisp, central vision.

Dr. Jain and his colleagues raised a warning flag that long-term use of Elmiron may damage the retina.

Switching mice destined to develop glaucoma to a low carbohydrate, high fat diet protects the cells of the retina and their connections to the brain from degeneration.
Of those 140 patients, 91 agreed to come in for an exam. Pixabay

Vora, Amar P. Patel, and Ronald Melles, ophthalmologists at Kaiser Permanente, heeded that warning and looked at their database of patients.

They found 140 patients who had taken an average of 5,000 pills each over the course of 15 years.

Of those 140 patients, 91 agreed to come in for an exam.

The doctors took detailed images of the back of their eyes.

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Twenty-two of the 91 patients showed clear signs of drug toxicity.

The rate of toxicity rose with the amount of drug consumed, from 11 per cent of those taking 500 to 1,000 grams to 42 per cent of those taking 1,500 grams or more.

Because it’s unclear how much medication is too much, Dr Vora recommended patients who show no signs of toxicity be screened for retina damage at least once a year.

For those who do show some signs of damage, he recommended that they speak with their urologists about discontinuing the medication.

If identified early, the damage may be mitigated by stopping the medication, the doctors said.

The research was presented on Saturday at “AAO 2019”, the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology at Moscone Center in San Francisco. (IANS)

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New York Times Devotes Entire Front Page to COVID-19 Victims

The names of 1,000 of the COVID-19 victims were published on the front page of New York Times

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New York Times
The New York Times dedicated its front page to the names of COVID-19 victims. Pixabay

The New York Times has devoted its entire front page to the names of 1,000 of the COVID-19 victims as the US approaches nearly 100,000 virus deaths, the current highest in the world as suggested by COVID-19 Information & Resources.

The Sunday edition’s front page comprises a simple list of names and personal details taken from obituaries around the US, the BBC reported.

The headline is “US deaths near 100,000, an incalculable loss”, with a sub-heading that reads: “They were not simply names on a list. They were us.”

New York state, the epicentre of the US coronavirus pandemic, has recorded 385,000 confirmed cases, with 23,195 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

New York Times
Newspaper article titled “A New Physics Based on Einstein” published in ”The New York Times” on November 25, 1919. Wikimedia Commons

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New York City accounts for 197,000 infections and 16,149 fatalities.

As of Sunday, the US registered the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 1,622,670 and 97,087, respectively. (IANS)

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Doctors Warn UK to Cut Meat Intake to Avoid Future Global Health Crisis

A majority of infectious diseases that have appeared in humans have been caused by tampering with animals

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Doctors have urged UK to cut meat intake to avoid a future pandemic. Pixabay

The UK needs to drastically cut back its meat intake to avoid a future global health crisis, a group of doctors have warned.

Plant Based Health Professionals (PBHP) said that the connection between major disease outbreaks and factory farming is being “swept under the carpet” amid the coronavirus pandemic, as they join a wave of experts urging people to go vegan, the Metro newspaper reported.

The vast majority of new infectious diseases that have appeared in humans over the past century have been caused by tampering with farmed animals and their habitats, including Swine Flu (pigs), Avian Flu (birds) and Spanish Flu (poultry).

Speaking to the Metro newspaper, PBHP founder and Consultant Haematologist at King’s College Hospital, Shireen Kassam, said that another disease outbreak was “inevitable if we do not move towards a plant-based diet”.

doctor-meat
Experts urging people to go vegan. Pixabay

In the UK, demand for cheap meat has fuelled a huge expansion of factory farming – a controversial process that often sees thousands of animals being packed into small, unsanitary cages.

This “provides the perfect conditions for the generation of novel infections with epidemic and pandemic potential” as well as necessitating the widespread use of antibiotics in animals, “contributing to a crisis in antibiotic resistance among humans”, Kassam said.

“The last 100 years has shown that pandemics will continue unless we change the way we eat and how our food is produced.

“Disease is spread predominantly through confinement, we don’t have the land capacity to feed the 8 billion people on this planet free range.

asparagus-meat
Poor diets are the main cause of chronic health conditions in adults in the UK. Pixabay

“We are in this race to find an antiviral, but other than HIV, there are very few viruses where there are very effective drugs available. (A vaccine) isn’t just going to save our problems, there is a risk of a mutation that could come back in a few years.

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“We need to learn from our mistakes. We need to change our land use to grow beans and legumes, we need a system change,” she told the newspaper.

Poor diets are the main cause of chronic health conditions in adults in the UK, while pre-existing health conditions such as obesity and diabetes are seen as risk factors in catching COVID-19, which has infected 252,246 peopled and killed 36,124 in the country so far.

Research from the University of Oxford last year found foods with the largest negative environmental impacts such as unprocessed and processed red meat, were linked with the largest increases in disease risk, while foods associated with improved health (whole grain cereals, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and some vegetable oils high in unsaturated fats, such as olive oil) have among the lowest environmental impacts. (IANS)

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US White House Releases Report Announcing Onset of Cold War With China

US has formally announced the onset of Cold War with China

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China flag
US has officially announced Cold war with China. Wikimedia Commons

By Aarti Tikoo Singh

With its new vision document on China, the US has formally announced the onset of its Cold War with the Asian giant, accusing it of exploiting rule-based world order and re-shaping international system in favour of Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) ideology and interests.

Just short of calling it Cold War, the US in its latest report titled, ‘United States Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China’, released by the White House, has announced that it is “responding to the CCP’s direct challenge by acknowledginga that the two major powers are in a “strategic competition and protecting” their “interests appropriately”.

Until now, the US policy towards the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the report said, was “largely premised on a hope that deepening engagement would spur fundamental economic and political opening” in China and make it a “responsible global stakeholder, with a more open society”.

However, after over 40 years, “it has become evident that this approach underestimated the will of the CCP to constrain the scope of economic and political reform”.

Over the past two decades, reforms have slowed, stalled, or reversed, the report said.

“The PRC’s rapid economic development and increased engagement with the world did not lead to convergence with the citizen-centric, free and open order as the US had hoped. The CCP has chosen instead to exploit the free and open rules- based order and attempt to reshape the international system in its favour.”

Beijing openly acknowledges that it seeks to transform the international order to align with CCP interests and ideology, the US said. “The CCP’s expanding use of economic, political, and military power to compel acquiescence from nation states harms vital American interests and undermines the sovereignty and dignity of countries and individuals around the world.”

mountain china

Beijing openly acknowledges that it seeks to transform the international order to align with CCP interests and ideology, the US said. Pixabay

The White House pointed out that Beijing in its neighborhood, engages “in provocative and coercive military and paramilitary activities in the Yellow Sea, the East and South China Seas, the Taiwan Strait, and Sino-Indian border areas”.

Just a day ago, US diplomat and acting assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, Alice Wells had called out the CCP regime for ratcheting up tensions with India along its borders. Chinese soldiers in the last few months has engaged in several violent faceoffs with Indian soldiers in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Ladakh over boundary issues.

Announcing its approach, the US report said that it is “working in concert with mutually aligned partnersa”Southeast Asian nations, Japan, India, Australia, Republic of Korea and Taiwan on their outlook on the free, open and secure Indo-Pacific region”.

Guided by a return to principled realism, the report said thatA given the strategic choices China’s leadership is making, “the United States now acknowledges and accepts the relationship with the PRC as the CCP has always framed it internally: one of great power competition”.

The White House made it clear that it is not interested in effecting any change in China’s domestic governance model but at the same time said that it won’t make “concessions to the CCP’s narratives of exceptionalism and victimhood” .

The US policies, the report said, are designed to protect its interests and empower its institutions to withstand the CCP’s malign behaviour and collateral damage from the PRC’s internal governance problems.

China
The White House made it clear that it is not interested in effecting any change in China’s domestic governance model. Wikimedia Commons

Accusing the CCP of running propaganda and false narratives, the White House declared that it will continue to challenge Beijing’s attempts at false equivalency between rule-of-law and rule- by-law; counterterrorism and oppression; representative governance and autocracy; and market-based competition and state-directed mercantilism.

The US will not accommodate Beijing’s actions that weaken a free, open, and rules-based international order, the report said, adding that it will continue to refute the CCP’s narrative that the the US is in strategic retreat.

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Using the Cold War terminology, the White House announced that it will work with its robust network of allies and like- minded partners to resist attacks on shared norms and values, within their own governance institutions, around the world, and in international organizations.

The US government said it does not cater to CCP’s demands to create a proper “atmosphere” or “conditions” for dialogue because it sees no value in engaging with Beijing for symbolism and pageantry.

“We instead demand tangible results and constructive outcomes. We acknowledge and respond in kind to Beijing’s transactional approach with timely incentives and costs, or credible threats thereof. When quiet diplomacy proves futile, the United States will increase public pressure on the PRC government and take action to protect United States interests by leveraging proportional costs when necessary,” the report said. (IANS)