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Garbage, including dumped plastic products, piles up on the shore of a tributary of the Mekong River in the southern Vietnamese province of Soc Trang on Aug. 22, 2018. (Mainichi)

BRUSSELS/TRAN DE, Vietnam — About 88 to 95 percent of marine plastic waste is estimated to come from 10 rivers in Asia and Africa, according to a study by German researchers. And one of those rivers, the Mekong, is facing an increasing pollution crisis caused by plastic bags and bottles near its mouth in southern Vietnam.

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Plastic bags hang from the branches of mangrove trees lining a tributary of the Mekong River in the southern Vietnamese province of Soc Trang on Aug. 23, 2018. (Mainichi)

The research team at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig in eastern Germany made the estimate in a thesis published in the Environmental Science and Technology journal in October last year. The rivers have become polluters due to improper treatment of plastic waste on the ground. As approximately 2 billion people live in emerging and developing countries along the rivers basins, emergency measures to stop the pollution are required.

The researchers carried out the analysis using open-source data such as plastic waste samples taken from rivers across the globe and the volumes of water flowing from those rivers into the oceans. Their study showed that the Yangtze River in China transports the largest amount of plastic waste, followed by the Indus River flowing through India and Pakistan, the Yellow and Hai rivers in China and the Nile going through northeast African countries.

Eight of the 10 most polluting rivers are in Asia, indicating that Asian countries are the main conduits of plastic waste dumped into the sea. Of the 240 water samples taken in 57 rivers, 98.5 percent contained microplastic pieces five millimeters or less in diameter. Plastic pieces larger than that were contained in 55 percent of the samples.

Bigger rivers tend to have a higher density of plastic waste, and those 10 major rivers polluting the sea stood out for their contributions to environmental degradation. According to the researchers at the German institute, rivers worldwide move between 470,000 and 2.75 million metric tons of plastic into the oceans annually, and plastic waste continues to threaten marine organisms for decades and centuries as plastic does not naturally break down, and continues to float at the mercy of the oceans currents.

Dr. Christian Schmidt of the research team points out that an effective countermeasure to stop marine plastic waste is to reduce its inflow into rivers. In the first place, a waste management system is needed in the most polluting countries. Waste should be removed from the streets and rivers, Dr. Schmidt said by email. This approach, he added, does not sound exciting or innovative, but it will likely be most effective.

Many of the Asian rivers transporting plastic waste flow through China. Late last year, China stopped importing plastic waste citing the need to protect the domestic environment after years of accepting nearly half the worlds plastic refuse as a resource. There is no data showing how much plastic waste imported by China has leaked into the environment, and the impact of Beijings about-face on the marine environment worldwide is still unclear.

Said Schmidt: It has a big impact on global plastic material flows. Suddenly, the domestic waste management of high income countries has to deal with way more waste than before. Hopefully, this will be a positive incentive for action on waste reduction and increased recycling rates.

What appeared to be colorful jellyfish in blue, yellow and orange were hanging from the branches of mangrove trees covering the Mekong Delta in Tran De of Soc Trang province in southern Vietnam. They were actually plastic bags coming from the Mekong, the mighty 4,300-kilometer-long river that originates in the high mountains of Tibet, flows through six countries in Indochina, and splits into multiple smaller rivers before meeting the South China Sea.

Truong Van Hau, 46, a local fisherman catching shellfish using a dragnet, let this reporter ride his boat to see the waters in the delta. No plastic waste such as bottles was visible on the surface, but when Hau pulled up his dragnet near the mouth of the river, plastic bags and containers emerged among fallen leaves.

Haus usual fishing ground, which was unreachable on this day because of high waves, has more waste, he explained. Waste flows into the area because of the currents. When I catch one to two kilos of shellfish, I also get three to four kilos of trash (comprising leaves and plastic). Having been a shellfish fisherman for nine years, the amount of plastic waste is on the rise, said a worried Hau.

From his fishing boat, a woman was visible on a nearby shore. She dumped waste in a plastic bag, and splashed water on the floating bag to move it away from shore. Large volumes of dumped plastic bags among coconut shells could be seen on the ground here and there along the coast. At a nearby port, a sanitation worker was dumping waste into the river, but they were collecting one thing: plastic bottles. We pick them up because 1 kilo of these earns 3,000 dong (about 14 yen), they said.

Countries in Southeast Asia like Vietnam have a high demand for plastic products, which play a greater role in daily life than in other parts of the world. Bags are used to carry food bought at roadside stalls, and drinks in plastic bottles come with plastic straws. In 2015, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam were named by Ocean Conservancy, a Washington-based group calling for the protection of the marine environment, as major sources of marine plastic waste, besides China.

WWF Vietnam, the local branch of the international environmental protection group, acknowledged that Vietnam is Southeast Asias hotspot of marine litter. The main reason for this, a representative explained, is the increasing use of plastic packaging while the development of waste management systems lags behind.

Groups such as WWF Vietnam have developed a water stewardship program involving stakeholders and governmental organizations for better water management and reduction of water pollution in some parts of the Mekong Delta. Waste management improvements include better collection and separation, using trash for compost or for recycling to generate an income. Communicating this concept to local residents is part of the program, according to WWF Vietnam.

Establishing a proper waste collection system and changing peoples thinking are two major hurdles to plastic litter prevention, and both of these goals remain a distant dream in Southeast Asian countries.

(Japanese original by Kosuke Hatta, Brussels Bureau, and Shinichi Nishiwaki, Bangkok Bureau)

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including those associated with mare pollution. Regardg latter

Black products constitute about 15% of the domestic plastic waste stream, of which the majority is single-use packaging and trays for food. This material is not, however, readily recycled owing to the low sensitivity of black pigments to near infrared radiation used in conventional plastic sorting facilities. Accordingly, there is mounting evidence that the demand for black plastics in consumer products is partly met by sourcing material from the plastic housings of end-of-life waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE). Inefficiently sorted WEEE plastic has the potential to introduce restricted and hazardous substances into the recyclate, including brominated flame retardants (BFRs), Sb, a flame retardant synergist, and the heavy metals, Cd, Cr, Hg and Pb. The current paper examines the life cycles of single-use black food packaging and black plastic WEEE in the context of current international regulations and directives and best practices for sorting, disposal and recycling. The discussion is supported by published and unpublished measurements of restricted substances (including Br as a proxy for BFRs) in food packaging, EEE plastic goods and non-EEE plastic products. Specifically, measurements confirm the linear economy of plastic food packaging and demonstrate a complex quasi-circular economy for WEEE plastic that results in significant and widespread contamination of black consumer goods ranging from thermos cups and cutlery to tool handles and grips, and from toys and games to spectacle frames and jewellery. The environmental impacts and human exposure routes arising from WEEE plastic recycling and contamination of consumer goods are described, including those associated with marine pollution. Regarding the latter, a compilation of elemental data on black plastic litter collected from beaches of southwest England reveals a similar chemical signature to that of contaminated consumer goods and blended plastic WEEE recyclate, exemplifying the pervasiveness of the problem.

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Can you solve the plastics problem? New prize invites ideas.

Photograph by Randy Olson, Nat Geo Image Collection

Plastic bottles fill a recycling facility in Valenzuela, Philippines.

Plastic is everywhere. It pools in the farthest reaches of the ocean and collects on the slopes of the highest mountains; researchers have found it in whales bellies and in the groundwater reserves we tap for drinking. Every day, about one megaton more is produced, enough to make almost 22 trillion water bottlesand more than 90 percent of that will never see the inside of a recycling plant.

So what should we do about it? How can we keep that plastic from drowning the planet?

Solutions to a problem as big and knotty as this one are going to require all hands on deck, says Valerie Craig, a deputy to the vice president at the National Geographic Society. Good ideas could come from anyone, anywhere. So to tap the entire worlds creativity and expertise, the National Geographic Society and Sky Ocean Ventures have put together the Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge to source ideas from around the world about how to address plastic waste.

ROME, ITALY – APRIL 16: (L-R) Gary Knell, Syliva Earle and Jeremy Darroch attend the National Geographic Science Festival at Auditorium Parco Della Musica on April 16, 2018 in Rome, Italy. National Geographic commit $10 million to support Sky Ocean Ventures as they join forces to reduce plastics in the ocean. The collaboration will create the largest global media campaign to date focused on marine plastics. (Photo by Elisabetta Villa/Getty Images for National Geographic)

We hope we can inspire people of diverse backgrounds to utilize their own resources, to try to really solve the problems they see and reach their own goals, says Fred Michel, the head of Sky Ocean Ventures[BH1] , an impact investment arm of the London-based Sky media company. And maybewe hopetheyll come up with something amazing, something transformational.

The challenge, announced Monday, is split into three tracks, each designed to address a different part of the plastics pollution problem. Each track is eligible for prizes totaling up to $500,000 as well as the opportunity for further investments and business mentoring from Sky Ocean Ventures.

Innovators can submit their ideas until June 11. A team of judges selected by National Geographic and Sky Ocean Ventures will pick the best of the bunch by early Julyup to 10 finalists per trackand those finalists will have until November to develop their ideas further. The winners will be announced in December of 2019.

The first challenge is a call to design better packaginga fully biodegradable coffee cup, for instance; or a wrapper for energy bars that breaks down over time; or a wild card idea that addresses a different packaging problem. Teams can submit ideas for any of the three categories.

The second challenge asks for creative zero-waste business models. How, asks Craig, can businesses get their products to their customers with lessor noplastic?

The soda business is essentially a plastic bottle business, she gives as an example. But is there a way to get customers the drinks they wantwithout the bottles getting in the way? Teams can submit ideas for how to either build better business models or to use technology solutions to get products to consumers without packaging waste.

The third challenge taps designers and data miners to show the scale of the plastics pollution problem in a creative, intuitive way. The goal is to highlight both the breadth of the problemthe 270 pounds of plastic waste each American goes through each year, for exampleand the power of collective action. Four finalist teams will get to work with the National Geographic graphics team to fine-tune their visualizations, and one winner will take home a $10,000 prize.

There are many ways to chip away at the problem of plastic pollution. Some pushes come from inside the industry itself, like when companies cut back on packaging. Others come from regulations, like bans on straws or Styrofoam containers.

Another strategy? Open the conversation up so that anyone can throw their good idea into the hatand offer a prize for the best innovations.

FILE – In this Feb. 5, 2018 file photo, plastic bottles and other plastics including a mop, lie washed up on the north bank of the River Thames in London. European Union officials agreed on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018, to ban some single-use plastics, such as disposable cutlery, plates and straws, in an effort to cut marine pollution. The measure will also affect plastic cotton buds, drink stirrers, balloon sticks, and single-use plastic and polystyrene food and beverage containers. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

Its like a really big flashing beacon, or a balloon, sayinghey! Look over here! Heres what we care about. Now go out and solve it, saysFiona Murray, an expert on prizes and incentives at MIT.

There is a long and storied history of using prizes to solve big technical or environmental problems.

As late as the early 1700s, European sailors had a conundrum. They had figured out how to use the position of the sun, measured at noon, to pinpoint their exact latitude on the globe, so they could track how far north or south they had sailed. But they didnt have any way of measuring longitude, so they had only the roughest of guesses about how far theyd gone east or west.

The British government set a reward of up to 20,000 British pounds (today, that would be about 3.4 million dollars) to anyone who could come up with some reliable way of determining longitude.

The most ocean-minded Europeans could not solve the problem: Not the captains or the boatbuilders or the scientists scratching out equations. The answer, instead, came from a clock builder named John Harrison, who built a clock that could keep precise track of time on the rocking decks of a ship. If sailors knew exactly what time it was on their ship, and the time at another place with a precisely known longitude, they could back out their own exact position.

Would the problem have been solved without Harrison? Eventually, saysReto Hofstetter, a management expert at the University of Lucerne in Switzerland. But the reward, or prize, incentivized him and many others to scheme and tinker in ways that sped up the discovery.

Big, complicated environmental issues like pollution rarely have an obvious fix either. But prizes can also work well to source creative solutions that may otherwise have gone un-invented.

Craig points to theWendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup Challenge, set after 2010sDeepwater Horizon oil spillin the Gulf of Mexico. Industrial cleanup companies proposed to use the same techniques theyd been using for years. But the organizers wondered if there was another solution, so they put out a $1.4 million prize for the best new ideas.

A team of young peoplewho would never have otherwise ended up working on this problem together, says Craigproposed a whole new strategy: Stuffing casings with absorbent material and using those to mop up the mess.

Michel hopes the new Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge will spur similar creativity. The key point is to help these innovators, he says. We want to help them grow, develop their product, do great innovationand then go to market and get these ideas adopted by consumers.

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The carcasses

Plastics found in the guts of UKs seals, dolphins and whales

The vast majority of the particles – 84% – originated from clothes, fishing nets, and toothbrushes, with the rest from packaging.

Scientists have discovered that microplastics are accumulating in the guts of every marine mammal that has washed up on the shores on the UK.

In a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers from the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) examined 50 carcasses.

The carcasses, which came from 10 species of seals, dolphins and whales, all contained microplastics – plastic particles smaller than 5mm – in their digestive systems.

The vast majority of the particles (84%) which the researchers discovered were synthetic fibres, originating from clothes, fishing nets and toothbrushes – while the rest were fragments from food packaging and plastic bottles.

Microplastics are known topose a massive threatto the largest marine species.

Marine megafauna feed by filtering thousands of cubic metres of seawater a day for plankton, meaning they are also taking in the tiny particles of indigestible plastic.

The microscopic plastic particles areeven being consumed by humans, and it is believed that plastic in the gut could suppress the immune system and aid the transmission of toxins and harmful bugs or viruses.

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Its shocking – but not surprising – that every animal had ingested microplastics, said the studys lead author Sarah Nelms, of the University of Exeter and PML.

The number of particles in each animal was relatively low (average of 5.5 particles per animal), suggesting they eventually pass through the digestive system, or are regurgitated.

We dont yet know what effects the microplastics, or the chemicals on and in them, might have on marine mammals.

More research is needed to better understand the potential impacts on animal health.

The animals in the study had died from a number of different causes, but the ones which had died of infectious diseases were found to have a higher number of plastic particles than those which died of injuries.

We cant draw any firm conclusions on the potential biological significance of this observation, said Professor Brendan Godley, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on the University of Exeters Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

We are at the very early stages of understanding this ubiquitous pollutant. We now have a benchmark that future studies can be compared with.

Marine mammals are ideal sentinels of our impacts on the marine environment, as they are generally long lived and many feed high up in the food chain. Our findings are not good news.

Dr Penelope Lindeque, who heads the marine plastics research group at Plymouth Marine Laboratory, said: It is disconcerting that we have found microplastic in the gut of every single animal we have investigated in this study.

Indeed, from our work over the years we have found microplastic in nearly all the species of marine animals we have looked at; from tiny zooplankton at the base of the marine food web to fish larvae, turtles and now dolphins, seals and whales.

We dont yet know the effects of these particles on marine mammals.

Their small size means they may easily be expelled, but while microplastics are unlikely to be the main threat to these species, we are still concerned by the impact of the bacteria, viruses and contaminants carried on the plastic.

This study provides more evidence that we all need to help reduce the amount of plastic waste released to our seas and maintain clean, healthy and productive oceans for future generations.

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Diet Drinks Linked To Increased Stroke Risk & HeartAttacks

(CNN) More bad news for diet soda lovers: Drinking two or more of any kind of artificially sweetened drinks a day is linked to an increased risk of clot-based strokes, heart attacks and early death in women over 50, according to anew study by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association.

The risks were highest for women with no history of heart disease or diabetes and women who were obese or African-American.

Previous research has shown a link between diet beverages and stroke, dementia, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and diabetes.

This is another confirmatory study showing a relationship between artificially sweetened beverages and vascular risks. While we cannot show causation, this is a yellow flag to pay attention to these findings, said American Academy of Neurology President Dr. Ralph Sacco, who was not involved in the latest study.

What is it about these diet drinks? asked lead study author Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, an associate professor of clinical epidemiology and population health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York. Is it something about the sweeteners? Are they doing something to our gut health and metabolism? These are questions we need answered.

More than 80,000 postmenopausal US women participating in theWomens Health Initiative,a long-term national study, were asked how often they drank one 12-fluid-ounce serving of diet beverage over the previous three months. Their health outcomes were tracked for an average of 11.9 years, Mossavar-Rahmani said.

Previous studies have focused on the bigger picture of cardiovascular disease, she said. Our study focused on the most common type of stroke, ischemic stroke and its subtypes, one of which was small-vessel blockage. The other interesting thing about our study is that we looked at who is more vulnerable.

After controlling for lifestyle factors, the study found that women who consumed two or more artificially sweetened beverages each day were 31% more likely to have a clot-based stroke, 29% more likely to have heart disease and 16% more likely to die from any cause than women who drank diet beverages less than once a week or not at all.

The analysis then looked at women with no history of heart disease and diabetes, which are key risk factors for stroke. The risks rose dramatically if those women were obese or African-American.

Women who, at the onset of our study, didnt have any heart disease or diabetes and were obese, were twice as likely to have a clot-based or ischemic stroke, Mossavar-Rahmani said.

There was no such stroke linkage to women who were of normal weight or overweight. Overweight is defined as having a body mass index of 25 to 30, while obesity is over 30.

African-American women without a previous history of heart or diabetes were about four times as likely to have a clot-based stroke, Mossavar-Rahmani said, but that stroke risk didnt apply to white women.

In white women, the risks were different, she said. They were more 1.31% as likely to have coronary heart disease.

The study also looked at various subtypes of ischemic stroke, which doctors use to determine treatment and medication choices. They found that small-artery occlusion, a common type of stroke caused by blockage of the smallest arteries inside the brain, was nearly 2 times more common in women who had no heart disease or diabetes but were heavy consumers of diet drinks.

This result held true regardless of race or weight.

This study, as well as other research on the connection between diet beverages and vascular disease, is observational and cannot show cause and effect. Thats a major limitation, researchers say, as its impossible to determine whether the association is due to a specific artificial sweetener, a type of beverage or another hidden health issue.

Postmenopausal women tend to have higher risk for vascular disease because they are lacking the protective effects of natural hormones, North Carolina cardiologist Dr. Kevin Campbell said, which could contribute to increased risk for heart disease and stroke.

This association may also be contributed to by rising blood pressure and sugars that were not yet diagnosed as hypertension or diabetes but warranted weight loss, thus leading the women in the study to take up diet beverages, said Dr. Keri Peterson, medical advisor for the Calorie Research Council, an international association representing the low- and reduced-calorie food and beverage industry.

Yet, said Sacco, who is also chairman of neurology at the University of Miamis Miller School of Medicine, the more studies there are coming up with the same associations, the more you begin to question. The more you begin to feel strongly about the association being real.

Critics also point to the possible benefit of artificially sweetened drinks for weight loss, a critical issue considering the epidemic of obesity in the United States and around the world.

For example, two World Health Organizationmeta-analysesofexisting researchon non-sugar sweetners called those studies low-quality and inconclusive, said William Dermody Jr., vice president of media and public affairs for the American Beverage Association,a trade organization.

Low- and no-calorie sweeteners have been deemed safe by regulatory bodies around the world, Dermody said, and there is a substantial body of research that shows these sweeteners are a useful tool for helping people reduce sugar consumption.

We support the WHOs call for people to reduce sugar in their diets, and we are doing our part by creating innovative beverages with less sugar or zero sugar, clear calorie labeling, responsible marketing practices and smaller package sizes.

The American Heart Associationissued an advisory last yearsaying that short term use of low-calorie and artificially sweetened drinks to replace sugary ones may be an effective strategy to promote weight loss in adults, but not children.

The guidance is aimed at those who find it difficult to move directly from sugary drinks to water, said University of Hawaii nutrition professor Rachel Johnson, chairwoman of the writing group for that scientific advisory. Low-calorie sweetened drinks may be a useful tool to help people make this transition.

On the whole, Johnson said, there is solid science that consumption of sugary drinks is associated with adverse health outcomes. Thus, it may be prudent to limit intake until we know more about how they may impact peoples risk of stroke.

While science continues to explore the connection, Americans are turning more and more to water and other non-calorie beverages, according to theBeverage Marketing Corporation, a data and consulting group. In 2016, bottled water surpassed carbonated soft drinks to become the number-one beverage by volume and has continued to dominate the market in 2017 and 2018.

In 2018, Americans are projected to drink just over 3 billion gallons of diet sodas out of a total of 12.2 billion gallons of carbonated sodas, according to data from the Beverage Marketing Corporation.

Personally, Ive stopped drinking artificially sweetened beverages, Sacco said, adding that he sees the emerging research as an alert for hard-core fans of diet drinks and anyone thinking of turning to them for weight loss.

We should be drinking more water and natural beverages, such as unsweetened herbal teas, Mossavar-Rahmani said. We cant just go all day drinking diet soda. Unlimited amounts are not harmless.

& © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Would be helpful to know which artificial sweetener was in most of the consumed diet soda. Chances are it was Aspartame, which is the most common and most quoted as having health implications. Why did many diet sodas that switched to what I see as less-risky, heat tolerant Splenda quickly switch back to what I see as more-risky, heat affected Aspartame? Why arent there more choices with natural sweeteners like Stevia, Allulose, Erythritol, or Monk Fruit? I personally love Coke Zero, but dont drink much of it because I dont trust Aspartame.

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Continuous Glucose Monitors Make Managing Diabetes Easier

Glucose Monitors Make Managing Diabetes Easier

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SATURDAY, Feb. 9, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Monitoring bloodsugaris essential for many people withdiabetes, but self-testing is a hassle. For some patients, using a continuous glucose monitor might be the solution.

The monitors were originally designed for people withtype 1 diabetesto keep track of their bloodsugarthroughout the day. Using a sensor and a receiver, these devices track factors such asexercisestress, certain foods andsleepthat can affect blood sugar.

Its become more common to see these monitors used by people withtype 2 diabetes, because continuous glucose monitors are now much easier to use.

Even my patients in their 70s are doing a great job of using these devices, said Dr. Elena Toschi, a staff physician in the Adult Diabetes Center at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.

These devices are recommended for all people withtype 1 diabetes, those who havehypoglycemiaor those who are not able to achieve an A1c below 7 percent, Toschi explained in a Joslin news release. A1c is a measure of a persons average blood sugar level over the past two to three months.

Continuous glucose monitors have an alarm, which will let you know if your blood glucose level is high, but more importantly, they can tell you if you blood sugar is dangerously low, Toschi said in the news release. Many people with type 1 develophypoglycemia unawareness, meaning that they dont have symptoms until they lose consciousness.

For people withtype 2 diabetes– specifically those who take several dailyinsulininjections, have unexplained highs or lows or have hypoglycemia unawareness — a continuous glucose monitor may be a useful tool since newer devices are smaller and more accurate.

For women withgestational diabetes(a form of diabetes that develops duringpregnancy), a continuous glucose monitor is an important tool for keeping blood sugar in check.Pregnantwomen need to have very tight blood sugar control, and the monitor provides real-time feedback on different types of foods, helping them to figure out what to eat and when.

Some people may not want to wear a device that lets others know they have diabetes. The device may highlight the fact that you have diabetes, when you want to keep your condition private, Toschi said. Its really about personal preference.

And some people may not want to keep being shown their blood sugar levels. Getting feedback every five minutes may raiseanxietyandstressabout diabetes, making its use counterproductive, she said.

These devices may be covered by Medicare. For people withtype 2 diabeteswhose insurance does not cover one, there are models that are affordable, Toschi noted.

But you also need to factor in any out-of-pocket expenses and ongoing costs, such as supplies like sensors and dressings to cover them.

To make the best decision, talk to your doctor or certified diabetes educator, Toschi advised.

Copyright 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCE: Joslin Diabetes Center, news release, Jan. 28, 2019

Learn to better control your glucose levels by preventing blood sugar swings. Beware of caffeine, spices, exercise, sleep, alcohol, and stress as they impact blood sugar levels and increase diabetes complications.

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Gene-Editing Chinese Scientist May Face Death Penalty

He Jiankui, the Chinese scientist who stunned (and horrified) the world by claiming he edited the DNA of unborn children to make them immune to HIV, is reportedly in state custody and may face the death penalty for his actions.

He Jiankui made headlines at a Hong Kong biomedical conference in November byclaiminghe altered the DNA of twin girls with an HIV-positive father to make them immune to the virus. Six more pregnant couples were said to be involved as volunteers for his experiments.

He Jiankuis research was swiftlydenouncedas shocking and crazy by much of the Chinese scientific community, sharply questioned by doctors around the world, and viewed as a potential violation of international bans on gene-editing live human embryos. The organizers of the conference where he made his bombshell announcementcriticizedhis work as irresponsible and deeply disturbing.

The gene-editing scientist promptly contracted an acute case of Chinese justice anddisappearedwithout a formal arrest or indictment. According to aSky Newsreport on Tuesday, he has languished in a guarded Shenzhen apartment since November under either house arrest or protective custody. His colleagues say he will be charged with corruption and bribery, which are capital offenses in China.

Chinas vice minister of science and technology, Xu Nanping, told state broadcaster CCTV that his ministry was strongly opposed to the work. At the time he described it as illegal and unacceptable, and added that an investigation had been ordered, Sky News pointed out, an observation that does not quite explain how He Jiankui ended up charged with bribery instead of violating medical ethics.

He could be had up on all sorts of charges of corruption and being guilty of corruption in China these days is not something you want to be. Quite a few people have lost their heads for corruption, geneticist Robin Lovell-Badge of the Francis Crick Institute in Londonsaidon Monday.

Lovell-Badgeorganizedthe Hong Kong conference at which He dropped the gene-editing bomb, inviting him in the apparently mistaken belief it would teach him humility and self-restraint. One example of He Jiankuis deficit in both of those characteristics is that he is not really a biologist or geneticist Lovell-Badge described him as a physicist who knows a little biology.

Lovell-Badge speculated the corruption charges against He Jiankui would stem from the methods he employed to get numerous assistants involved with his work. That could be either good or bad news for his associates, who could be seen as either corrupt collaborators or hoodwinked victims of a corrupt research project.

TheNew York Timespublished a photo of He Jiankui standing forlornly on the balcony of a fourth-floor apartment at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, the province where many of Chinas biggest tech companies are headquartered. Not pictured were the dozen unidentified men theTimessaid are guarding him. His wife has reportedly been seen with him, carrying a baby.

Chinese authorities refused to confirm He Jiankui was the man photographed on the balcony. The mystery men outside his apartment responded to questions by asking, How did you know that Professor He is here? TheTimeshad to show the photo to He Jiankuis business partner and inquire with hotel staff to confirm his identity.

According to theNYT,university staff has been instructed not to discuss He Jiankui or his work and Chinese media have been ordered not to write about him despite the worldwide interest in his experiments.

His partner in founding the Vienomics gene-testing company, Liu Chaoyu, complained about the disruption caused by the surprise gene-editing announcement and ominously described He Jiankui as extremely irresponsible and motivated by his quest for fame and fortune.

Lovell-Badge also said He Jiankui is very rich, has a huge ego, and is driven by his desire to be the first at doing something that will change the world, which suggests there might not be an overabundance of friendly witnesses at his prospective corruption trial.

Marching He Jiankui through a corruption trial so he can be swiftly disposed of would frustrate scientists around the world who have serious questions about his work and its ethical implications.

TheNew York Timesnoted there have been challenges to his claims of obtaining informed consent from the couples involved in the experiment. Few of his claimed results been verified, a paper he claims to have submitted on the experiment has gone missing, and the current status of the ostensibly gene-edited babies is murky.

For the record, Lovell-Badge was deeply skeptical of the ethics of He Jiankuis human experiment butfairly confidentit worked more or less as claimed, because if he was going to make this up, he would have made it up much better than this.

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scopate

Ethical concerns raised as human embryonic gene editing continues in US

Frozen embryos. Credit: Ekaterina Georgievskaia/Shutterstock.

New York City, N.Y., Feb 1, 2019 / 04:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A scientist at Columbia University in New York is conducting controversial gene-editing experiments on human embryos, according to a recent report from NPR.

Dieter Egli, a developmental biologist, is experimenting with CRISPR technology to edit genes in order to prevent certain hereditary genetic diseases and mutations, such as blindness or cystic fibrosis.

In his lab, Egli uses human ova and sperm, along with the CRISPR tool, to create genetically edited embryos.He told NPRthat the human embryos that he creates and edits are not allowed to develop beyond a day.

This kind of research is currently banned from receiving federal funding, but can be conducted using private funding. The Food and Drug Administration prohibits gene modification on viable human embryos, which means any genetically modified human embryos must be destroyed, rather than brought to term.

While Egli said that he wants to use the research to prevent diseases, some scientists worry about the ethical implications of such research if it were used haphazardly.

Already in China, a scientist has been condemned both by his university and by civil authorities for creating genetically modified babies, using CRISPR, for seven couples. Researcher He Jiankui claimed in November that these embryos had already resulted in the birth of a set of genetically modified twins, though there has been no independent confirmation of his claim.

In a letter signed by 120 Chinese scientists, He was condemned for ignoring ethical guidelines. The letter called the gene manipulation a Pandoras box, and said The biomedical ethics review for this so-called research exists in name only. Conducting direct human experiments can only be described as crazy.

Fyodor Urnov, associate director of the Altius Institute for Biomedical Sciences in Seattle, told NPR that he found it really disturbing that gene-editing research was continuing in the United States.

As weve learned from the events in China, it is no longer a hypothetical that somebody will just go ahead and go rogue and do something dangerous, reckless, unethical, Urnov says.

One of the biggest ethical concerns of the medical community regarding gene editing is that it could lead to the creation of designer babies and a society in which genetically modified people are seen as superior to genetically unedited people.

Anyone with a connection to the Internet will be able to download the recipe to make a designer baby, Urnov says. And then the question becomes: Whats to prevent them from using it? As we learned in the past year: apparently nothing.

Catholic bioethicists have previously raised serious concerns about gene-editing research and technology.

Fr. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Director of Education for The National Catholic Bioethics Center, told CNA in 2017 that embryonic gene editing is morally objectionable because it treats very young humans…not as ends, but as mere means or research fodder to achieve particular investigative goals.

At the time, he was responding to news that a team of scientists at Oregon Health and Science University had used CRISPR to edit the genes of human embryos. While gene editing may have laudable goals, such as preventing diseases, the means of killing human embryos cannot justify those intrinsically evil ends, he said.

Their value as human beings is profoundly denigrated every time they are created, experimented upon, and then killed. Moreover, if such embryos were to grow up, as will doubtless occur in the future, there are likely to be unintended effects from modifying their genes, Fr. Pacholczyk added.

While gene editing research is beginning to be explored and discussed in various countries throughout the world, most places have urged extreme caution and have laws in place that thus far prohibit genetically edited pregnancies.

Urnov told NPR that the research should be stopped until every ethical dilemma can be addressed.

We need to hit the pause button and keep it pressed until we understand how do we proceed in a way that minimizes the risk of people going rogue, Urnov says.

J. Benjamin Hurlbut, an associate professor of biology and society at Arizona State University, told NPR that he would also urge extreme caution for gene editing technologies.

If weve learned anything from whats happened in China, its that the urge to race ahead pushes science to shoot first and ask questions later, he told NPR. But this is a domain where we should be asking questions first. And maybe never shooting. Whats the rush?

Researchers in Oregon have announced that they have successfully altered genes in a human embryo…

Genetic editing of human embryos, even in special circumstances, ignores the complex ethical…

A Chinese scientist says he has created the first genetically edited babies, a claim that has…

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hedebo

Ive been using theAbbot Labs Continuous Glucose Monitorfor the last four weeks, Ive seen some massive insights into my lifestyle and overall wellness.

How glucose levels throughout the day compared to activity, heart rate. Whether Im sitting or moving after a meal. How my body reacts to glucose when Im sleeping, or when I lack sleep.

What it does when Im stressed was incredible.

But also, how type 2 diabetes could come about, how maybe it could even be detected years before any official diagnosis.

The monitor comes with a reader and a sensor. The sensor is NFC-powered. It can read through clothes.

The sensor has a needle that goes under the skin, but I dont even feel it going on.

Sometimes when I roll over on my arm at night, I might feel it, but in general, I dont even notice it.

The device itself gives daily graphs, which are useful. But connecting with a computer and you can get a much better picture of whats going on.

The default software you get with the Freestyle is not bad. It shows daily trends, individual day charts,

With this, you get averages over the day. Even an estimated HBA1C value thats accurate (a recent test had it as 34 / 5.3%).

HBA1C levels above 5.7% are considered high-risk for diabetes  Self Hackedgoes into it in great detailhere.

I havent yet been able to export the data directly from the FreeStyle Libre software. But connecting to the third party appDiasend, I could upload and export as a spreadsheet.

This was a huge surprise for me, with some huge spikes in glucose levels after meals.

It wasnt just the obvious hitting my glucose levels hard  high-carb foods. It was rice (brown and white), sweet potatoes, gluten free bread.

Functional medicine doctorChris Kresser talksa good deal about insulin insensitivity, and how post-meal levels above 7.8 are getting into dangerous territory.

The other side of glucose going too high was glucose going too low overnight (hypoglycaemia), caused by very low-carb evening meals.

Walking after a meal stables levels while Im walking.

Im getting some of my worst spikes if Im sitting down after a high-carb meal.

My worst data point by far is when Ive been most stressed  giving a talk at theQuantified Self Europe conference.

Comparing to Fitbit Heart Rate data. Glucose spikes about 30 minutes after the spike in heart rate.

I cant see clear patterns in the data on this yet. I probably dont have enough clear data points.

MorningHeart Rate Variabilitymeasured in theemFitapp has an impact. Im seeing better blood glucose control on days with higher HRV values.

When my glucose is low, my sleep is pretty bad. I feel tired after the night, and there are lots of interruptions.

From the emFit, HRV goes down  basically saying Ive had negative recovery over the night.

From only a few weeks of using the continuous glucose monitor, there are worrying trends in the data  many signs of insulin insensitivity.

I can see its possible to keep blood sugar under control  watching what I eat, sleep well and looking after stress.

Experts in the field say the same thing. Dr. Mark Hyman, a functional medicine doctor, and author talks about insulin sensitivity being reversible.

Glucose monitors can be a part of that.

I can track how my average glucose and HBA1C levels change over time.

And it holds me accountable. Numbers dont lie. I cant fool myself that eating the snacks after lunch is OK.

And I can figure out the small lifestyle adjustments bring the biggest return. What foods are worst for me and what activity works best?

Can I lower my HbA1C levels over the course of the next three months? Measured through the CGM and blood tests. And will lower glucose levels impact any other biomarkers  like cholesterol?

This is the first in a series of posts:

Glucose Monitoring  the First Four Weeks

Improving my Sleep with a Continuous Glucose Monitor

How to Lower Blood Glucose with a Continuous Glucose Monitor

Dr. Mark Hymantalks abouthow to reverse diabetes.

Podcast on The Quantified BodywhereTim Omertalks about Continuous Glucose Monitoring.

Jason Fungis another doctor in the space talking about how to reversetype 2 diabetes.

Self Hackedhas aseries of articlesabout HBA1C and how to better manage it.

Self-Quantifier, tech-lover and biohacker. Organiser of Dublin Quantified Self. Developer. More at

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8 Global Glucose, Dextrose and Maltodextrin Market Manufacturing Cost Analysis

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12 Global Glucose, Dextrose and Maltodextrin Market Forecast (2019-2025)

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