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Scott Gottlieb Steps Down As FDA Chief; Ned Sharpless Steps Up As Acting Commissioner

Scott Gottlieb steps down as FDA chief, with Ned Sharpless announced as new acting commissioner

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Ned Sharpless, new acting commissioner for the FDA
Norman “Ned”Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute, is named acting FDA commissioner. (H. Darr Beiser/National Cancer Institute)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) chief Scott Gottlieb is stepping down. Gottlieb will be leaving FDA in April after nearly two years at the health regulation agency. The head of the National Cancer Institute (NIS), Dr. Norman “Ned” Sharpless, has been tipped to take his place as acting commissioner.

Sharpless is the current head of the cancer division at NIS, and might permanent head the FDA following his confirmation. Sharpless obtained a medical degree from the University of North Carolina in 1993. He worked at the university for many years as a professor and administrator before being called to NIS. He had been heading the National Cancer Institute since October 2017.

Although the Health and Human Services announced Sharpless as the new acting commissioner for the FDA, President Donald Trump may nominate him for the job. Health legislators will have to quiz him rigorously before his final confirmation by the Senate.

Announcing his retirement, Gottlieb said he plans to spend more time with his family and possibly undertake some private business.

Health experts and industry stakeholders consider him one of the best brains to have managed the FDA. Under the Trump administration, he effectively managed rising drug costs, reduced teenagers’ use of e-cigarettes and put a foot down on opioid scourge. He fought to cut nicotine levels in cigarettes so that smokers will find them less attractive, among other ambitious public health initiatives.

Sharpless had always been in support to help the FDA reduce teenage vaping and the overall use of tobacco products. Gottlieb in a tweet commended Sharpless and expressed hopes that he is the most suitable man to wear his shoes at the FDA.

“Ned is a friend to FDA, a great public health champion, a dedicated physician, and will be warmly welcomed into his new role,” Gottlieb tweeted. “FDA will benefit greatly from his leadership.”

The FDA is tasked with regulating food, drugs, tobacco and medical device use in the United States. The agency also monitors public health threats such as epidemics and rare disease outbreaks such as Ebola.

Nikki Austen finished from the University of California Davis where she majored in Physiotherapy. She practised as a physical therapist for several years before discovering she has a knack for reporting medical news. She worked as a health reporter for a couple health magazines before joining the team of Health News Office.

Food & Drinks

Why Chilli Peppers Make Food Spicy and Why You Have Runny Nose Eating Them

Chilli peppers contain capsaicin – a spicy compound with immense health benefits

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capsaicin in chilli peppers for spicy foods
The capsaicin in chilli peppers make foods hot and spicy. Photo Credit: englishlikeanative/Pixabay

Almost everyone have their nose running and their stomach churning when they consume hot, spicy foods. Foods that cause an instant burning sensation in the mouth are prepared with chilli peppers among other spicy ingredients. Peppers have a piquant burning taste because they contain capsaicin – a compound that creates the burning sensation in the mouth and excites the mucus glands in the nose.

Scientists say it is good that that your eyes get teary and your nose runs when consuming spicy, peppery foods. In fact, the stomach also secretes excess fluid in response to chilly pepper in foods. And then, some people stool a number of times because their gastrointestinal tract secrete extra mucus to deal with the capsaicin-induced hotness in the meal they just consumed.

How the Body Responds To the Capsaicin Compound in Chilli Peppers

Dr. Brett Comer, a ear, nose, and throat specialist at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine said the nose begins to run immediately and sneezing may occur when people eat chilli pepper in spicy foods because the body naturally produces liquid to flush out offensive substances.

“When your mouth or throat encounters any foreign object that’s noxious, the thinking is that liquid helps to move that out,” Comer explains.

Researchers said chilli peppers make the body hot because capsaicin binds with a particular pain receptor to make itself felt. The effect of the compound in the mouth creates a feeling of hotness and even makes the portion of the skin where it is applied red with dilated blood.

Anthony Dickenson, a professor of neuropharmacology at University College London, wrote at the conclusion of a study that capsaicin in chilli peppers have physiological and therapeutic effects on the body.

“This excitation leads to the feeling of heat or burning pain, blood vessel dilatation, reddening of the skin and body temperature elevation,” Dickenson said.

Health Benefits of Chilli Peppers and Why People Like the Pains Associated With Capsaicin

Some medication creams recommended for arthritis contain capsaicin, and this triggers a hot sensation on the part of the body where it is applied. When the compound excites this part of the body, the hotness numbs the pain receptors and reduce arthritis pains.

While capsaicin has been demonstrated to combat pain, it has also been proven to improve heart and metabolic functions. Some studies found that capsaicin also makes cells to die slowly in a way that prevent cell mutations that cause cancers. A few other studies found that capsaicin in pepper prevents the accumulation of fat in the waistline and around internal organs of the body – thereby reducing the chances of obesity.

Theorists have often wondered why people cannot do without eating peppers in their food despite the fact that spicy capsaicin makes their noses run and their bodies hot. Paul Rozin, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, said this could be because people like to push the limits of what they can take – they like the hot spiciness in peppers since it enables them to test the limit of pains they can put up with.

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Food & Drinks

You Increase Your Chances of Dying Early When You Eat Red and Processed Meats

Eating small amounts of red and processed may negatively impact your health and lifespan

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red and processed meat bad for health
Red and processed meat bad for health. Photo Credit: Pxhere

A new research reveals that eating red and processed meats increases the chances of dying early. The study shows that eating even small amounts of red or processed meat has the same risks. The highest risk of early death comes from cardiovascular disease, although there is the risk of death from all medical causes.

The study was published by researchers from the Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center in the journal in Nutrients as part of the Special Issue, Dietary Assessment in Nutritional Epidemiology: Public Health Implications for Promoting Lifelong Health.

The Adventist Health Study-2 (AHS-2) is titled “Red and Processed Meat and Mortality in a Low Meat Intake Population.” The AHS-2 is a potential age bracket study aimed at 96,000 Seventh Day Adventist members in the U.S. and Canada. AHS-2 is led by Gary E. Fraser, professor of medicine and epidemiology at Loma Linda University of Health.

Half the population of Seventh Day Adventists eats only vegetables and no meat. And those who do eat only small amounts – about two ounces or less per day. This practice encouraged researchers to investigate the health effects of consuming low amounts of red and processed meat as against total abstinence from meat.

Processed meat is a meat prepared to improve its flavor, taste and texture through curing, salting, drying, smoking and other chemical means.

The research examined the deaths of 7,900 people over 11 years. Out of these, 2,600 died from cardiovascular disease and more than 1,800 died from cancer.

The study found that eating processed meat alone does not raise the dangers of mortality. But a lifestyle intake of both red and processed meat is linked to death from various health factors, including cardiovascular disease.

“We wanted to take a closer look at the association of low intakes of red and processed meat with all-cause, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer mortality compared to those who didn’t eat meat at all,” said Saeed Mastour Alshahrani.

Alshahrani is the lead author of the study and a doctoral student at Loma Linda University School of Public Health.

Co-authors of the study said their findings further lend credence to existing proofs that eating red and processed meat may impact longevity of life and quality of health in a negative way.

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Food & Drinks

Organic Food May Not Be Healthier Than Junk Food If They Were Ultra-Processed

Labels notwithstanding, processed organic food is as useless as junk food.

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junk food is not as beneficial as organic food
Junk food is not as beneficial as organic food. Photo Credit: RitaE/Pixabay

Regardless of how it is labeled, organic food may not be healthier than junk food if it went through so much processing. A food may be labeled as wholly organic, but its organic properties may be lost if it went through ultra-processing. This means a food product labeled as organic may not be any different from processed junk food if it has lost all its natural ingredients.

A study conducted by researchers indicates that food companies now produce organic versions of popular junk foods to meet the national demand for organic food. Since many Americans now prefer organic food without necessarily wanting to let go of favorite junk foods, food companies now package junk foods with labels indicating they contain natural, organic ingredients.

Benefits of Wholly Organic Foods against Health Risks of Junk Foods

This however does not indicate that the junk food containing natural ingredients is healthy. And it does not indicate that natural food that had been subjected to rigorous processing is any better for one’s health.

There are many benefits to eating wholly organic foods. These include –

  • They contain higher amounts of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
  • The body develops better with the natural nutrients in these foods
  • It reduces exposure to trace reduces of chemical herbicides and pesticides

Junk foods are not good for the overall health of the individual because they are not natural. Junk or processed foods are usually high in sugar and calories, and low in protein and fiber. They do not satisfy completely when consumed, and they pose long-term health risks such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure among others.

vegetables and nuts are the best organic food

                  Vegetables and nuts are the best organic food. Photo Credit: dbreen/Pixabay

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program prohibits the use of antibiotics and hormones for poultry and farm animals – because of potential antibiotic-resistant infections. In fact, they also prohibit the use of synthetic substances and additives in food products. However, organic junk foods often contain refined sugars or sweeteners and starches and fat among other unwholesome ingredients.

Intensive Food Processing Degrades Organic Nutrients Such As Minerals and Vitamins

Balu Nayak, associate professor of food processing at the University of Maine, said extensive food processing degrades the nutritional values of organic food. Whether wheat is organically grown or cultivated with chemicals, the natural nutrients in its dough get degraded or destroyed if baked under high temperatures to make packaged cookies.

“Depending on the intensity and severity of the food processing, nutritional content including vitamins and minerals will be degraded in the processed food,” said Balu Nayak.

Unfortunately, when an organic ingredient is ultra-processed, it may pose the same health risks like an ingredient sourced from conventional sources. This means a product labeled as organic may not necessarily be so on account of the label alone. And then, labeling a product as organic is often misleading to the public since many of such products often contain added sugar, sodium and refined starch.

The best way to determine if a food product is truly organic with no additives is to scrutinize its label. The nutrition label will provide basic organic information about the macronutrients and unconventional vitamins or minerals contained in the product. The ingredient list will also provide some insight into what is inside the product, advised Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard University.

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