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Study suggests more older women may benefit from bone drugs

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A bone-strengthening drug given by IV every 18 months greatly lowered the risk of fracture in certain older women, a large study found. The results suggest these medicines might help more people than those who get them now and can be used less often, too.

Broken bones are a scourge of aging. A hip fracture can start a long decline that lands someone in a nursing home. The risk is most common in women after menopause.

According to a study, a bone-strengthening drug given intravenously every 18 months greatly lowered the risk of fracture in certain older women.
According to a study, a bone-strengthening drug given intravenously every 18 months greatly lowered the risk of fracture in certain older women.  (Nam Y. Huh / The Associated Press file photo)

But who should use drugs called bisphosphonates is debatable. They’re recommended for people with severely brittle bones, called osteoporosis, but their value is less clear for millions of others with moderate bone loss.

Yet “that’s the group in whom 80 per cent of fractures occur,” and the new results suggest they also may benefit from treatment, said Dr. Ian Reid of the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

He led the study, reported Monday at an American Society for Bone and Mineral Research meeting in Montreal and published by the New England Journal of Medicine.

Estrogen keeps bones strong; they weaken after menopause when levels of that hormone drop. It often gets worse after 65, and women of that age are advised to have a bone mineral density scan — a low-dose X-ray to estimate bone strength.

If osteoporosis is found, treatment usually is Fosamax, Boniva or generic versions of these drugs, which help prevent bone from being lost faster than the body is able to renew it. Some people don’t stick with the pills or endure digestive side effects, so the medicines also can be given by IV, usually once a year.

However, concern about some rare side effects have limited their use, along with a lack of evidence that they might help before bone loss becomes severe.

The study involved 2,000 women, average age 71, with moderate bone loss. One quarter had previously had a fracture. They were assigned to get a Novartis drug, sold as Reclast in the United States and Aclasta elsewhere, or a placebo IV solution every 18 months.

After six years, 122 women in the drug group had broken a bone versus 190 of those on placebo — a 37 per cent lowered risk. The drug also cut in half the risk of a vertebral fracture, when bone compression causes part of the spine to collapse.

For every 15 women like this treated for six years, one fracture was prevented — a ratio that some experts said makes treatment worth considering.

Two rare problems are tied to bisphosphonates — deterioration of the jawbone and unusual leg fractures. No cases of either occurred, but the study wasn’t big enough to rule out this risk.

Other results stood out: Fewer women in the drug group were found to have cancer — 84 versus 121 in the placebo group. However, the study was not designed to test for this, so other factors such as a family history of cancer may have influenced those numbers. Deaths and heart attacks also were fewer in the drug group, but the difference was so small it could have occurred by chance alone.

Still, doctors said these were encouraging signs also seen in some earlier research.

“It now raises the question, should we be doing additional studies” to look for cancer and heart benefits from these drugs, said Dr. Michael Econs, an Indiana University professor who is president of the bone society.

Novartis supplied the drug but had no role in the study; a New Zealand government health agency sponsored it. Reid consults for the company and other drugmakers.

An IV infusion of generic Reclast costs $200 to $500, depending on insurance and other factors, several doctors said. Other bisphosphonates may give similar benefits “but we can’t be certain of that,” Reid said.

The benefits also can’t be assumed to extend to women under 65 or to men, said Dr. Clifford J. Rosen of Maine Medical Center Research Institute and an editor at the medical journal.

Gauging a patient’s risk and need for treatment should focus on age and previous broken bones, not just the bone mineral density score, Rosen said.

But “if you’re at high risk and you’re going to be treated, this is the kind of therapy you probably should get,” he said.

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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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