World Health Organization Drops Coffee’s Status as Possible Carcinogen

Move comes 25 years after group said beverage may lead to bladder cancer


Coffee drinkers have gotten some good news.

Twenty-five years after classifying coffee as a possible carcinogen leading to bladder cancer, the World Health Organization’s cancer research arm has reversed course, saying on Wednesday that coffee is not classifiable as a carcinogen.

The organization also said that coffee has no carcinogenic effects on other cancers, including those of the pancreas and prostate, and has even been seen to reduce the risk of liver and uterine cancers.

The agency is finally joining other major research organizations in those findings. Numerous studies in recent years have shown no conclusive link between cancer and coffee and have actually shown protective benefits in certain types of cancer.

The about-face by the WHO came after its International Agency for Research on Cancer reviewed more than 1,000 studies that showed coffee is not a cancer culprit.

Dr. Dana Loomis, the IARC official who was responsible for the evaluation, told a group of reporters on Wednesday that the body of scientific evidence on coffee had become much larger and stronger since 1991, when the IARC first classified coffee as a possible carcinogen. He said the positive associations between coffee and bladder cancer upon which the previous classification was based were confounded by, among other things, the fact that some cancer patients in those studies also smoked.

Dr. Loomis said it is not the first time the IARC has downgraded the cancer risk of a substance “but it happens seldom.”


Read at Wall Street Journal

About 3.7 billion worldwide are infected with the herpes virus

Approximately two-thirds of all people under age 50 across the globe are infected with herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), the virus most commonly associated with cold sores, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) report released today in the journal PLOS One.

That’s 3.7 billion people worldwide.

The burden of infection varies in different parts of the world and between men and women, according to the report. In the Americas, about 39% of all women are infected and 49% of men. In the Eastern Mediterranean, 75% of both men and women are infected and 87% of both men and women are infected in Africa.

And that’s just men and women under age 50. Above this age, the burden of infection would probably “trend toward 100%” in many places, says Bryan Cullen, director of the Duke University Center for Virology, although the WHO study doesn’t include these statistics.

HSV-1 is the same virus most commonly responsible for causing skin lesions, or “cold sores,” around the mouth, a disease than can be transmitted via skin-to-skin contact, such as kissing. But while cold sores are a mostly cosmetic issue, there’s good reason to collect data on the virus, argue some experts.


Link to full article on Mashable

Ebola vaccine is ‘potential game-changer’

A vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus has led to 100% protection and could transform the way Ebola is tackled, preliminary results suggest.

There were no proven drugs or vaccines against the virus at the start of the largest outbreak of Ebola in history, which began in Guinea in December 2013.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the findings, being published in the Lancet, could be a “game-changer”.

Experts said the results were “remarkable”.

This trial centred on the VSV-EBOV vaccine, which was started by the Public Health Agency of Canada and then developed by the pharmaceutical company Merck.



Full story at BBC News

WHO-Worldwide country situation analysis: antimicrobial resistance

WHO releases report on antimicrobial resistance plans.

Antimicrobial resistance has been detected in all parts of the world; it is one of the greatest
challenges to global public health today, and the problem is increasing. Although antimicrobial
resistance is a natural phenomenon, it is being propagated by misuse of antimicrobial
medicines, inadequate or inexistent programmes for infection prevention and control (IPC),
poor-quality medicines, weak laboratory capacity, inadequate surveillance and insufficient
regulation of the use of antimicrobial medicines.
A strong, collaborative approach will be required to combat antimicrobial resistance, involving
countries in all regions and actors in many sectors. Over a 2-year period, from 2013 to
2014, WHO undertook an initial “country situation analysis” in order to determine the extent
to which effective practices and structures to address antimicrobial resistance were already
in place and where gaps remained. The survey was conducted in countries in each of the six
WHO regions.

PDF here


Use Ebola survivors’ blood – WHO

Use Ebola survivors’ blood – WHO

Bag of blood
Blood from people who had Ebola could be used as a treatment

The blood of patients who recover from Ebola should be used to treat others, the World Health Organization has announced.

West Africa is facing the largest Ebola outbreak in history and more than 2,000 people have died.

A global group of experts have been meeting to assess the experimental therapies that could contain Ebola.

The WHO also announced that Ebola vaccines could be used on the frontline by November.

Blood medicine

People produce antibodies in the blood in an attempt to fight off an Ebola infection.

In theory, those antibodies can be transferred from a survivor into a sick patient to give their immune system a boost.

However, large scale data on the effectiveness of the therapy is lacking.

Studies on the 1995 outbreak of Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo showed seven out of eight people survived after being given the therapy.


Full Story on BBC

For Polio, Two Vaccines Work Better Than One

A booster dose of inactivated polio vaccine bolsters the immune system and reduces viral shedding in children already treated with the oral polio vaccine, a study shows


Depending on when and where in the world you were born, you may have received a different kind of polio vaccine than someone else born into different circumstances. If you were born in the U.S. after 2000, for example, you likely received an injection of the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), but before that, you might have received the oral polio vaccine (OPV), a live attenuated virus, administered by mouth. Starting later this year, children born in polio-affected countries will receive both vaccine types, per World Health Organization (WHO) “endgame” plans to finish the job of eradicating polio.

The results of a study published today (August 21) inScience support this approach. In a group of Northern Indian children who had already received one or more doses of OPV, a supplementary dose of IPV bolstered their immune responses and reduced their shedding of viral particles in stool, a team led by researchers at the WHO reported.


Read full story here