“I think there’s great potential to develop therapeutics out of human milks, simply because they’ve been battle-tested for quite some time,” said Lars Bode, director of the Mother-Milk-Infant Center of Research Excellence at the University of California, San Diego. Other public health news focuses on diet trends, gene-edited steaks, and a new “black-lung” epidemic.
Stat: Scientists Start To See Breast Milk As Rich Source For New Therapeutics
They’re studying how certain human milk components might ward away superbugs, treat diseases of the gastrointestinal system, improve vaccine efficacy, reduce inflammation, or kill cancer. …But breast milk is not some kind of magical panacea. Some cancer patients have taken to drinking breast milk for therapeutic gains, though it’s highly unlikely they will see any, [Lars] Bode said. Some bodybuilders have fueled a black market for breast milk — paying high premiums to drink it in hopes of boosting their muscle mass. (Keshavan, 12/18)
The New York Times: Is There An Optimal Diet For Humans?
Nutrition experts have long debated whether there is an optimal diet that humans evolved to eat. But a study published this month adds a twist. It found that there is likely no single natural diet that is best for human health. The research, published in the journal Obesity Reviews, looked at the diets, habits and physical activity levels of hundreds of modern hunter-gatherer groups and small-scale societies, whose lifestyles are similar to those of ancient populations. They found that they all exhibit generally excellent metabolic health while consuming a wide range of diets. (O’Connor, 12/18)
The Washington Post: Gene-Edited Farm Animals Are Coming. Will We Eat Them?
Three cows clomped, single-file, through a chute to line up for sonograms — ultrasound “preg checks” — to reveal if they were expecting calves next summer. “Right now. This is exciting, right this minute,” animal geneticist Alison Van Eenennaam said as she waited for a tiny blob of a fetus to materialize on a laptop screen on a recent afternoon at the Beef Barn, part of the University of California at Davis’s sprawling agricultural facilities for teaching and research. The cows had been implanted a month and a half earlier with embryos genetically edited to grow and look like males, regardless of their biological gender. (Johnson, 12/17)
WBUR: An Epidemic Is Killing Thousands Of Coal Miners. Regulators Could Have Stopped It
A federal monitoring program reported just 99 cases of advanced black lung disease nationwide from 2011-2016. But NPR identified more than 2,000 coal miners suffering from the disease in the same time frame, and in just five Appalachian states. (Berkes, Jingnan and Benincasa, 12/18)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.