Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Jogger dies of salt deficiency

They call it a "sodium" deficiency below to pull the wool over your eyes. But it is ordinary table salt they are talking about -- the stuff that has recently been heavily (and fraudulently) demonized. It's just too embarassing to mention what it really is. Chemically, common salt is sodium chloride (NaCl)

A man who died after completing the hottest London Marathon was named last night as a 22-year-old fitness instructor. David Rogers became the ninth person to die in the race's 27-year history after suffering from hyponatraemia, where high water intake results in a sodium deficiency. Mr Rogers, of Milton Keynes, was one of 70 runners taken to hospital in sweltering temperatures. Running his first marathon, he collapsed after completing the race in 3 hours and 50 minutes.

On the website he said that he was raising money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association, in memory of his grandfather. Donations on the website had reached more than 1,300 pounds. He wrote: "My Grandad was 78 when he passed away and although I was only young when he died, I can still remember many happy memories spent with him."

Mr Rogers' father, Chris, and mother, Sarah had travelled to London to watch their son race. Chris Rogers, 52, of Westoning, near Bedford, told The Daily Telegraph that his son was "a happy-go-lucky lad who brought happiness to everyone". He said: "We saw him coming across Tower Bridge. He was ecstatic. He saw us and waved and then leapt in the air in a star jump. He was doing what he wanted to do." The next time he saw his son there was less than a mile of the race to go. His son was "labouring a bit but only like everyone else at that stage because it was a very hot day".

It was only when Mr Rogers failed to meet his family at the end of the race that they learnt he had been admitted to Charing Cross Hospital, where he died yesterday morning.

Race organisers offered their "deepest sympathy and condolences to his family and friends". They added that warnings had been issued to runners not to drink too much water: "The medical advice was not to drink excessive levels. That advice was on the website, in the magazine and in the runners' information packs." Another runner who had also been in a critical condition was transferred out of intensive care and was said to be recovering well.

The death of one runner and the fact that thousands of others had to be treated in the intense heat led to calls for the London Marathon to be staged earlier in the year. Gordon Trevett, lecturer at the department of exercise and health sciences at Bristol University, thought it would be sensible "so competitors can run in lower temperatures". He said: "The organisers could be worried that they might lose sponsorship if less people are running, if it's a bit colder, but because it is such a popular event and raises so much money, I think that people would still run if it was brought forward to March."

Nick Bitel, chief executive of the Flora London Marathon, was opposed to the idea. He said: "Some people think the marathon should be later in the year so they can train in warmer weather. Some like to train in summer and think a winter marathon would be best. We think we are at the right time of year."

More runners than ever began the race on Sunday, but as temperatures soared to 23.5C (74F) [Which would be cool in most of Australia!], 721 dropped out before the finish line. Among them was the athlete widely tipped to win the men's race, Haile Gebrselassie, of Ethiopia, who stopped after about 19 miles. Matt Dawson, the England rugby player, described seeing runners pass out in front of him, while Gordon Ramsay, the celebrity chef, who was running his eighth marathon, said: "It was like running in a desert. People were dropping like flies." St John Ambulance said that it treated 5,054 people.


Tomorrow's iatrogenic disaster coming up?

An iatrogenic illness is one caused by medication (In Greek "Iatros" = "medical practitioner"). There have been many such illnesses. I suffer from one myself. There is a saying that "Today's miracle cure is tomorrow's iatrogenic disaster". Anybody who medicates a perfectly healthy baby would have to be insane.

A hormone-like substance could be added to babies' milk or given to their mothers during pregnancy to stop them becoming obese as adults. Scientists gave pregnant and lactating rats food laced with leptin and found that their offspring did not put on weight no matter what they ate. The theory is that leptin given at this crucial stage in life "hard-wires" the body's energy-balance settings. The more leptin they are given the more inefficient the infant rats' bodies are at turning calories into fat. Instead, they burn it up metabolically.

Leptin was greeted as the cure for obesity when it was discovered a decade ago. Produced by fat, it tells the brain when fat deposits are adequate, and thus discourages eating. However, leptin injections benefit very few obese people. Dr Mike Cawthorne of the University of Buckingham said that breast milk contained leptin but formula feed did not, and foods fortified with leptin should be available soon.

But Professor Steve O'Rahilly, a leptin expert from Cambridge, said: "There is no evidence that this `early life' imprinting effect of leptin is at all relevant for humans."


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