TIME Heart Disease

New Heart Drug Saves More Lives Than Standard Treatment

A new drug may replace the current standard of treatment for heart failure

Drug maker Novartis released highly anticipated results from its clinical trial, PARADIGM-HF, showing its new heart failure drug cut cardiovascular deaths by 20%. The results were announced at the European Society of Cardiology meeting on Saturday.

Novartis has been testing a drug called LCZ696 for chronic heart failure in hopes of replacing ACE inhibitors, one of the mainstays of heart failure treatment. In March, an ethics council that was monitoring the trial data simultaneously requested the company end the trial since it was clear that participants using LCZ696 lived longer without being hospitalized for heart failure compared to those using the standard-care ACE inhibitor, enalapril.

Anticipation over the drug’s results has been mounting since the recommended closure of the trial; results were so impressive that the treatment showed potential to become the next standard of care. The latest trial showed significantly more patients on LCZ696 were alive, and they had 21% fewer hospitalizations compared to people on enalapril. They also found that the drug doubled the effect enalapril had on all-cause mortality, which is the holy grail of trial end points.

About 20 to 26 million people live with heart failure across Europe and the U.S., and even with treatment it has a poor prognosis and costs $100 billion to treat globally. The majority of those costs come from hospitalizations.

“We thought, what if we could replace the cornerstone of heart failure treatment, ACE inhibitors,” says Patrice Matchaba, development head for Novartis’ critical care franchise. “That’s why we designed PARADIGM and it was a bold decision to make.”

LCZ696 is a pill taken twice a day and is part of a new class of drugs that blocks receptors exerting harmful effects on the heart. The treatment protects the heart by reducing muscle strain, which allows the heart muscle to recover.

Fewer patients using LCZ696 discontinued the trial for adverse events, but the group did have more hypotension and non-serious angioedema compared to patients on enalapril. They had less renal impairment, hyperkalemia and cough.

Matchaba says Novartis will be submitting to the FDA by the end of 2014 and that they’ve already received fast-track status. They will submit in Europe the first quarter of 2015.

TIME health

5 Things That Make You Overeat

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Businessman working on a laptop at breakfast table Getty Images

We eat solo about half of the time, according to a recent report. We dine alone 60% of the time at breakfast, 55% of the time at lunch, and up to 70% of the time when eating snacks. The solitary dining trend is due in part to on-the-go lifestyles, as well as the fact that nearly one third of households consist of just one person.

Whether you live alone or with your significant other or family, you may find yourself eating in a different way when you dine by yourself. Specifically, if you’re like many of my clients, you’re probably falling into some unhealthy eating traps. Here are five common dine-alone conundrums, along with practical ways to thwart them.

Health.com: 10 Weight Loss Mistakes Everyone Makes

Relying on processed convenience food

I’ve had numerous clients tell me that they don’t make meals from scratch when they dine alone, because they think, ‘why bother going to the trouble just for one person?’ As a result, they find themselves relying on frozen dinners or packaged products, and that quality difference can negatively affect your waistline. One recent study found that we burn about 50% more calories metabolizing whole foods versus processed foods. In other words, it’s not just about the total calories you consume; some prep and cooking time is a worthy investment, even for a solo meal. To keep it fresh, simple, and relatively fast, consider whipping up breakfast for dinner. You can sauté fresh veggies like tomatoes, onion, spinach, and mushrooms in low sodium organic veggie broth with garlic and herbs, and then pair it with either scrambled organic eggs or mashed white beans. Serve this over a small portion of healthy starch, such as quinoa or brown rice, and top with sliced avocado for healthy fat.

Health.com: 14 Ways to Cut Portions Without Feeling Hungry

Making too much

One of the biggest challenges many of my clients face when dining solo is making more than they need, which results in eating extra portions. I know it’s really a pain, or sometimes impossible, to make just a half cup of quinoa, for example. So if you cook more than you need for a single meal, keep a BPA-free storage container at the ready to stash your surplus in the fridge. And to check yourself, consider pulling out your measuring cups and spoons. Eating just 20% more than you need meal after meal can keep you about 20 pounds heavier–so while quality food rules, managing quantity is still key for weight control.

Eating while distracted

Eating alone often involves eating while doing something else–watching TV, checking email, reading, or surfing the web. And distracted eating is a major setup for overeating. When you aren’t paying attention, it’s easy to become disconnected from how much you’re eating, or how full you feel. And when you’re out of touch with the eating experience–not noticing the aromas, flavors, and textures because you’re multitasking–you’re more likely to feel unsatisfied, which can lead to post-meal snacking. I know it may feel awkward, but when dining alone, try to sit at a table and just eat. You may be surprised at how much more you enjoy your meal, and how much more satisfied you feel. In fact, many people have told me that establishing this habit resulted in getting excited about cooking again, so they could experiment with new recipes or seasonings.

Health.com: 10 Types of Hunger and How to Control Them

Gobbling too fast

Since dining alone isn’t social, you may be tempted to rush through a meal, in order to get onto your next task. But in addition to potentially triggering bloating and acid reflux, speed eating is a recipe for weight gain. One study of 3,000 people found that fast eaters were 84% more likely to be overweight. Set a goal to simply slow down; put your utensil or food down between bites, take a few breaths between forkfuls, and chew more thoroughly.

Mindless nibbling

Another common pitfall associated with eating solo is mindlessly nibbling, especially on snacks. One of my clients who often worked from home found herself grabbing whatever was within reach throughout the day, an apple from the fruit bowl, one of her son’s granola bars or hubby’s energy bars, a handful of jarred nuts…. If you’re in the same boat, the best remedy is to keep food out of your sightline, and schedule your meals and snacks. When this client began working from a desk rather than a kitchen stool, and set her cell phone alarm for a designated lunch and afternoon snack time, the extra noshing went away, and so did the excess pounds.

Health.com: A Slacker’s Guide to Losing Weight Without Trying

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Cancer

How Diet Can Lower Risk of Prostate Cancer

Tomato and bean consumption helps prevent the disease

Consuming more than ten servings a week of tomatoes and beans lowers the risk of prostate cancer, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Bristol.

The findings expand on previous research and suggest that men should consume foods rich in lycopene and selenium, which are found in tomatoes and beans respectively, to help prevent the onset of a disease that kills about 30,000 men in the United States each year.

The study compared the diets of more than 1,800 men between the ages of 50 and 69 who had prostate cancer to the diets of more than 12,000 of their cancer-free peers.

While the study’s conclusions provide some dietary guidance, researchers say more work needs to be done to develop further dietary guidelines.

“Our findings suggest that tomatoes may be important in prostate cancer prevention. However, further studies need to be conducted to confirm our findings, especially through human trials,” said Vanessa Er, a researcher at the University of Bristol who led the study. “Men should still eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, maintain a healthy weight and stay active.”

TIME Food & Drink

Kraft Recalls American Singles Cheese Slices

Beef to Tomato Send July 4 Food Cost to Record
Packages of Kraft Foods Group Inc. sliced American cheese sit on display for sale in a supermarket in Princeton, Illinois, July 2, 2014. Daniel Acker—Bloomberg/Getty Images

No customer illness has been reported

Kraft Foods Group voluntarily recalled nearly 8,000 cases of its American Singles cheese Friday because a supplier “did not store an ingredient used in this product in accordance with Kraft’s temperature standards,” according to a Kraft Foods press release. At total of 7,691 cases of the pasteurized cheese product have been recalled.

“Consumers who purchased any of these products should not eat them,” says the release, which advises people to return the slices to the store where they bought them. Kraft says it has no reports of sick customers and described the recall as a “precaution” to avoid premature spoiled food and related illness. All affected products have a “Best When Used By” date of either February 20, 2015 or February 21, 2015.

The cheese was produced at the company’s Springfield, MO manufacturing plant.

TIME society

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Donations Just Topped $100 Million

More than 3 million people have donated

+ READ ARTICLE

Donations from the Ice Bucket Challenge broke the $100 million mark Friday as people around world continue to dump ice on their heads and donate to the ALS Association to help combat Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“The word gratitude doesn’t do enough to express what we are feeling right now,” ALS President and CEO Barbara Newhouse said in a statement.

The $100 million in donations came from more than 3 million donors who have contributed since the challenge went viral in late July. The ALS Association raised only $2.8 million in the same period last year.

The Ice Bucket Challenge has been a social media phenomenon, grabbing the attention of millions of Americans including many celebrities and political figures. Some have speculated that it might forever change the way charities approach fundraising.

TIME Research

Journal Retracts Paper that Questioned CDC Autism Study

A paper that claimed government scientists covered up data showing a connection between vaccines and autism has been pulled by its publisher

Earlier in August, the journal Translational Neurodegeneration, an open access, peer-reviewed journal, published a re-analysis of a 2004 paper published in Pediatrics that looked at MMR vaccines and autism. The re-analysis of the data, by biochemical engineer Brian Hooker of Simpson University, claimed to find a higher rate of vaccination against MMR among a subset — African-American boys — of the original study population who developed autism than among those who did not, a finding that Hooker claims was suppressed by the authors of the original paper from the Centers of Disease Control. One of the co-authors of the 2004 paper, William Thompson, released a statement admitting to omitting the data after a secretly recorded conversation he had with Hooker was released on YouTube. (Thompson was not available for comment.)

MORE: Whistleblower Claims CDC Covered Up Data Showing Vaccine-Autism Link

Now, however, the editors of Translational Neurodegeneration have retracted Hooker’s paper, noting on its site that “This article has been removed from the public domain because of serious concerns about the validity of its conclusions. The journal and publisher believe that its continued availability may not be in the public interest. Definitive editorial action will be pending further investigation.”

TIME Fast Food

McDonald’s Objects to Russia Restaurant Closures

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People sit on the terrace of a closed McDonald's restaurant, the first to be opened in the Soviet Union in 1990, in Moscow on Aug. 21, 2014. Alexander Nemenov—AFP/Getty Images

The Russian government says conditions in some of the chain's restaurants are unsanitary

McDonald’s on Friday objected to the Russian government’s decision to close 12 of its restaurants in the country, following weeks of highly publicized investigations into health and safety at the fast food giant’s locations.

“We are closely studying the content of the agency documents to determine what should be done to re-open the restaurants as soon as possible,” the company said in a statement. “We do not agree with the court’s decision and will appeal against it in accordance with the procedures established by the law.”

The investigations come as the United States and Russia face heightened tensions over the crisis in Ukraine. While Russian authorities maintain that the restaurants have been closed for health reasons, critics say the closures are a response to U.S. sanctions against Russia.

The Russian government is continuing “microbiology tests, sanitary and chemical tests” at other McDonald’s restaurants in Russia, according to reports.

TIME Infectious Disease

Senegal Confirms Country’s First Ebola Case

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Colorized transmission electron micrograph of the Ebola virus. Getty Images

The often-fatal disease has spread to a fifth West African country

Add Senegal to the four other West African countries—Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria—with recorded cases of Ebola.

Health Minister Awa Marie Coll Seck told reporters Friday that a young, infected Guinean man crossed the border into Senegal, the Associated Press reports. Senegal closed its border to its southeastern neighbor last week over fears that the often-fatal disease might spread into the country.

The World Health Organization announced Thursday that there have been 430 deaths from Ebola in Guinea alone. The United Nations agency reported that disease has been spreading more rapidly recently, with more than 40% of the total number of cases—3,069—occurring within the past 21 days.

The WHO has created a “roadmap” to stop the transmission of Ebola within nine months, while acknowledging that the disease could spread and infect over 20,000 people during that time.

Officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo recently said an Ebola outbreak has stricken that country as well, though they deny it’s connected to the one affecting West Africa.

[AP]

TIME Infectious Disease

Senegal Confirms Its 1st Case of Ebola

The infected person is a young man from Guinea

(DAKAR, Senegal) — Senegal has recorded its first case of Ebola in an outbreak that is ravaging its West African neighbors, the Ministry of Health said Friday.

The infected person is a young man from Guinea, Health Minister Awa Marie Coll Seck told reporters.

The outbreak that has killed more than 1,500 people began last year in Guinea, which shares a border with Senegal. Since then, the disease has spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. At least 3,000 people have contracted the virus.

The arrival of the dreaded disease in Senegal, whose capital Dakar is a major transportation hub for the region, is likely to increase fears about the disease’s uncontrolled spread even further.

The World Health Organization has warned that the outbreak is worsening and offered new evidence of its acceleration Friday, saying the past week has seen the highest increase of cases since the outbreak began.

The U.N. health agency has warned that the disease could eventually infect 20,000 people, and unveiled a plan Thursday to stop transmission in the next six to nine months.

TIME Research

Your Home Is Covered In Bacteria

And the bugs you live with are unique to you

If you think your home is a refuge from the gross bacteria of the world, a new study published in Science will burst your antibacterial bubble. Every room in your house teems with bacteria so unique to you and your family that a swab of any room reveals your microbial signature.

Scientists involved in the Home Microbiome Project sequenced bacteria from seven families (pets included) and their homes over six weeks. They swabbed the surfaces of skin, hands, feet, noses, countertops, doorknobs, and nearly every surface with which the residents interacted in their abodes. Turns out, our bodies release bacteria in almost every encounter we have with our environment—when we shed skin, when we yawn, when we open the fridge door. And that germ-sharing happens rapidly. When three of the families in the study moved to a new house, it took less than 24 hours for their new places to look exactly like their old ones, at least when it came to their bacterial housemates. And that was true even when the new place was a hotel room.

“People get very fidgety and itchy about hotel rooms,” study author Jack Gilbert, a microbiologist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, says — from his hotel room in South Korea. “But realistically, my hotel room right now looks like my microbiome. I’ve wiped out any of the previous occupants’ microflora in here—it’s 99.9% me.”

We don’t only share our bacteria with our houses, but also with each other. In the study, couples and their young children shared the most microbes with each other, thanks to regular physical contact. Hands were the most similar microbially, while noses retained an air of germy individuality since we pretty much keep them to ourselves (thank you, tissues!). The microbial constellations of families were so specific and unique that researchers were able to predict which family a given set of floor germs belonged to.

That’s fine when it comes to the more benign microbial hitchhikers, but what about the more scary ones that can cause disease? The researchers tracked a potentially antibiotic-resistant human pathogen from a kitchen countertop to the hands of family members, but no one got sick. “It’s likely that we all carry around nasty pathogens all the time in our body,” Gilbert says. “People aren’t getting ill because of them.” So our immune systems are able to ward off many of the nastier bugs most of the time — as long as we’re relatively healthy. Gilbert believes that it’s only when our microflora are compromised or unbalanced that the bad bugs get the chance to attack us.

Exposing your immune system to a wider array of the microbial universe is another way to bolster your defenses against them. And one way to do that is to get a pet. Dogs and cats track in the outside world, and that includes microbes. In the study, families with pets had more plant and soil bacteria in their homes — and that’s a good thing: a study earlier this summer found that infants who lived among pet dander had lower rates of allergies. “[Having a dog] rapidly supercharges the highways of microbial transmission in the house,” Gilbert says. (He is so convinced by the results, in fact, that he got a dog.)

The results are just the beginning of understanding how we interact with our environment, including with elements that we can’t even see. “There’s a continuum between you and your world, not a brick wall that ends at your skin,” says Gilbert. “We have to really embrace it in every aspect of our lives.”

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