"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
Bernhard Schlink

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Selenium Cola and HIV 

We know HIV is bad for you. That's rather obvious - it causes all kinds of nastiness. One of the big problems facing those with HIV is the virus' ability to mutate at astounding rates, and thus rapidly develop resistance to any treatments thrown its way. An experimental drug, etravirine, may provide needed relief in this area: resistant patients treated with approved antiviral drugs and etravirine seem to have lowered their viral loads much more than those on antivirals alone. Granted, this data is from a pharmaceutical company's press release, with no publication cited, but we can hope the effects are real.

While everyone knows HIV is bad, most people are aware that drinking lots of cola is probably not good for them. Unfortunately, an article in the July issue of the journal Epidemiology suggests that folks who drink more than two servings of cola per day (that's less than one of those 20-oz bottles!) had a higher risk of chronic kidney disease. The culprit seems to be cola's characteristic phosphoric acid, as other sodas and caffeinated drinks didn't show similar effects.

Finally, you probably thought that Selenium was good for you. Health food stores and "dietary supplement" companies have been touting it for years as a miracle for everything from cancer to obesity and beyond. Unfortunately, what looks like a pretty robust clinical trial has found that selenium supplementation appears to be linked to higher risk of diabetes. Granted, this result comes from secondary analysis, but still it should serve as a warning: we don't really know what all those "supplements" do to our bodies.

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