MorningRx: Upholding the French Paradox, a Clue to Type 1 Diabetes, and Bans on Chocolate Milk

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Immune System Genes May Contribute to Type 1 Diabetes: Researchers may be one step closer to understanding what causes Type 1 diabetes, which causes an inability to produce insulin and prevents the body from breaking down sugars in the blood. (Type 1 most often appears during childhood and is not related to diet or obesity.)

HealthDay reports on a new study in the journal Nature finding a link between immune system genes and the risk of Type 1 diabetes: “Using a genome-wide association study, the researchers found that a certain group of genes that react in response to viral infections were present in both rats and humans, and that those same genes were also associated with a susceptibility to type 1 diabetes.” Read the full story here.

Europe’s HIV Problem in Young Gay Men: France’s National Institute for Public Health Surveillance has found that the incidence of HIV infection among young homosexual men is 200 times that of the heterosexual population, with half of all new infections occurring in men who have sex with men (MSM). Britain’s Health Protection Agency also reports that half of the new infections in the U.K. are in gay men.

One study of 57 British men with a genetically similar version of the virus suggests that high-risk behavior among young gay men may be responsible: patients with this virus strain were much more likely to have contracted other sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis and chlamydia. Health ministries in France and the U.K. are recalibrating their public education efforts to target this growing “risk group,” among whom the rates of infection had previously been declining.

France Fears Obesity Problem: Although France’s adult obesity rate of 14.5% is the envy of the United States (27% of American adults are obese), France’s health ministry wants to keep the global obesity epidemic off its shores. The Global Post reports that French schools will be at the forefront of the 140 million euro effort to curb obesity rates in that country, with new sporting and exercise programs.

Key to Contraceptive Success: Contraception works better when both partners in a couple are motivated to use it (i.e., not just the woman). According to an Oregon University study of 435 couples in Oklahoma City and Los Angeles, the rate of accidental pregnancy among young, sexually active couples fell by more than half, when both partners were on board with contraception. When the women, ages 18 to 25, said they felt solely responsible for contraception or experienced some equivocation about wanting to be pregnant, proper contraceptive use was less likely.

It sounds like a no-brainer, but while 89% of sexually active women who do not want to become pregnant use contraception, according to the Guttmacher Institute, most methods fail more than advertised because of human error — such as forgetting to take the pill or using condoms only part of the time. So, getting partners on board might be a simple but overlooked way to reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy. More at the Los Angeles Times.

Chocolate Milk as Bad as Soda: Sorry, kids. Soda’s out of schools, and now chocolate milk — long used by parents to get children to boost their daily calcium intake — may be off the menu in school cafeterias across the country as well. The Florida State Board of Education is among the groups considering a ban on the drink due to concerns over its sugar content. The School Nutrition Association (SNA) worries that a ban would cause most schoolchildren to drink fruit juice, which is also high in sugar, or leave the school lunch program altogether — though it seems the SNA is getting a nudge from the dairy industry. For more, see TIME’s in-depth coverage of the chocolate milk debate.

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