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Breastfeeding protects against type 1 diabetes but cow’s milk raises risk, research suggests

Babies that were breastfed for longer and those that were breastfed exclusively were less likely to develop T1D.

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Photo by Wes Hicks from Unsplash.com

New research presented at the Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), held online this year, shows that breastfeeding is associated with a lower risk of developing type 1 diabetes (T1D).  Drinking more than two or three glasses of cow’s milk a day in childhood, however, is linked with higher odds of developing T1D.

In T1D, the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.  This prevents the body from producing enough of the hormone to properly regulate blood sugar levels.

What triggers the immune system’s attack is unknown but is thought to involve a combination of a genetic predisposition and an environmental trigger such as a virus or foodstuff. In some cases, the condition may develop in people without a genetic predisposition. 

Incidence of T1D, the most common form of diabetes in children, is increasing worldwide.  The number of diagnoses in young people is rising by an estimated 3.4% annually in Europe and 1.9% in the U.S.

“Type 1 diabetes is a serious condition that requires lifelong treatment,” says Ms Anna-Maria Lampousi of Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, who led the research. “Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage the heart, eyes, feet and kidneys and can shorten life expectancy.

“Learning more about the causes is key to preventing the type 1 diabetes – and its complications. 

“The identification of foodstuffs and other environmental triggers which can be modified would be particularly valuable.”

Numerous foodstuffs have been linked to islet autoimmunity – the attack on the insulin-producing cells – and T1D but none of the associations have been firmly established and the existence of a link remains controversial.

In the first study of its kind, Ms Lampousi and colleagues at the Karolinska Institutet carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis of the existing research to identify which foods have been consistently linked to T1D.

The Medline, Embase and Cochrane Library databases were searched from formation until October 2020, for studies on diet, T1D and islet autoimmunity.

Of the 5,935 studies identified, 152 were eligible for inclusion. The analysis produced estimates for how much 27 dietary components increased or reduced the risk of developing T1D.  This included foods eaten by the mother in pregnancy and foods consumed in infancy and childhood, as well as being breastfed.

Babies that were breastfed for longer and those that were breastfed exclusively were less likely to develop T1D.

Those breastfed for at least 6-12 months were less than half as likely (61% less likely) to develop T1D than those breastfed for less.  Those given only breast milk for the first 2-3 months were 31% less likely to develop the condition than those who weren’t exclusively breastfed.

The researchers say that breastfeeding promotes the maturation of baby’s immune system.  Plus, breast milk enhances the baby’s gut microbiota – the bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms that live in the digestive tract and help regulate the immune system.

Higher consumption of cow’s milk and dairy products such as butter, cheese, yoghurt and ice-cream during childhood (under 15 years old) was associated with a higher risk of islet autoimmunity and T1D.

For example, those who drank at least two to three glasses of cow’s milk (one glass = around 200ml) a day were 78% more likely to be develop T1D than those who consumed less than this amount of milk.

It isn’t known what is behind the association but some research has suggested that amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) in cow’s milk can trigger the immune system’s attack on the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas.

Early introduction of cow’s milk to the diet was also associated with a higher risk of T1D.  Those who started drinking cow’s milk at two or three months old were 31% less likely to develop T1D than those who started consuming it earlier.

Later introduction of gluten to the diet more than halved the odds of developing T1D. Infants who started eating gluten-containing foods, such as cereal, bread, pastries, biscuits and pasta, at 3-6 months old were 54% less likely to develop T1D than those introduced to the foods earlier.

Waiting until a child was four to six months old to introduce fruit to their diet was associated with a 53% reduction in their likelihood of developing T1D.

The study’s authors say it isn’t clear if delaying introduction to these foods directly protects against T1D or if the infants are benefiting from being breastfed for longer.

Age at introduction to formula milk, meat and vegetables was not linked to risk of T1D.  Nor were there any associations between a mother’s intake of gluten and vitamin D in pregnancy and her child’s odds of the condition.

Ms Lampousi concludes: “Diet in infancy and childhood may influence the risk of type 1 diabetes. The strongest findings were for the beneficial effects of breastfeeding and the harmful effects of early introduction to cow’s milk, gluten and fruit.

“However, most of the evidence to-date is of limited quality and further high-quality research is necessary before any specific dietary recommendations can be made.”

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DKSH, LEO Pharma partner to deliver products, solutions to people with skin conditions, thrombosis

DKSH Business Unit Healthcare, a leading partner for healthcare companies seeking to grow their business in Asia and beyond, has partnered with LEO Pharma to bring high-quality therapeutic products for dermatology and thrombosis to patients across Asia.

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DKSH Business Unit Healthcare, a leading partner for healthcare companies seeking to grow their business in Asia and beyond, has partnered with LEO Pharma to bring high-quality therapeutic products for dermatology and thrombosis to patients across Asia.

Partnering in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines, the two companies seek to solidify brand presence, grow market share, and ultimately improve patient health outcomes in the region. Skin diseases can cause serious physical and social discomfort for millions of patients around the world whereas thrombosis can affect anyone regardless of their age, race, gender, and ethnicity.

DKSH will support LEO Pharma by building dedicated sales and marketing teams on the ground in Asia and managing logistics and product distribution in these markets. The firm’s experienced teams and broad distribution network will ensure LEO Pharma products reach modern trade, traditional trade, hospitals, clinics, and other medical channels, as well as patients in need across the region.

LEO Pharma is a global company dedicated to advancing the standard of care for the benefit of people with skin conditions, their families and society. With decades of research and development to advance the science of dermatology, LEO Pharma now offers a wide range of innovative treatments and therapies for all skin disease severities as well as thrombosis.

Khalid Aouidat, Vice President, responsible for commercial activities in Southeast Asia at LEO Pharma commented: “At LEO Pharma, we are dedicated to changing the standards of care for people with skin diseases by bringing new innovative treatments forward and making them easily accessible. Supporting this ambition, we are delighted to be partnering with DKSH. Their experience and strong regional footprint in Asia, as well as their marketing and sales expertise will help to further strengthen LEO Pharma’s brand and its continued growth.”

Bijay Singh, Head of Business Unit Healthcare at DKSH, said: “We are committed to enriching people’s lives and improving healthcare for all. The partnership with LEO Pharma strengthens our ambition to become the preferred partner for clients to help patients in Asia to have better access to high-quality and innovative products and solutions. While we drive their growth across the region, LEO Pharma can focus on researching and developing products and solutions for people with skin conditions.”

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Epson partners with WWF, launches mangrove restoration project in Palawan

Epson, which has previously supported the development of WWF-Philippines’ virtual museum Museo Kalikasan, is now supporting the Mangrove Restoration Project in the municipalities of Balabac and Bataraza, Southern Palawan.

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Epson Philippines’ partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines for marine ecosystem restoration has officially kickstarted with a ceremonial launch in Balabac, Palawan. Supported by project stakeholders such as the European Union delegation to the Philippines and local government officials, the project launch highlights the importance of rehabilitating mangrove sites, recognizing their critical role in marine biodiversity and protecting coasts from erosion and storm surges.

Epson, which has previously supported the development of WWF-Philippines’ virtual museum Museo Kalikasan, is now supporting the Mangrove Restoration Project in the municipalities of Balabac and Bataraza, Southern Palawan. As part of the wider European Union-funded Ocean Governance Project—an initiative focused on strengthening habitat resilience through restoration in the Sulu Sulawesi Seascape that covers the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia—the joint mission in Palawan aims to boost local capacity in taking care of the mangroves, as well as address other critical issues such as plastic waste management. With Epson as a key partner, the Mangrove Restoration Project was able to expand beyond Balabac and into the neighboring municipality of Bataraza. In addition, the growing relationship between Epson Philippines and WWF-Philippines only further drives Epson Philippines’ commitment to support sustainable innovations and initiatives to solve the world’s greatest challenges.

“Corporations have a shared responsibility in sustainable development,” said Eduardo Bonoan, Epson Philippines’ General Manager for Marketing Division, who shared his remarks virtually during the project launch. “As Epson continues its commitment to sustainable innovation and environmental responsibility, we believe in forming critical partnerships with organizations that are aligned with our values—such as WWF-Philippines.”

To further the goals of the Mangrove Restoration Project, WWF-Philippines will continue to work with local government and key stakeholders such as Epson Philippines to establish a ‘Community Learning and Innovation Hub’ that aims to bridge knowledge gaps and strengthen coastal communities’ experience in resource management, thereby helping to build local capacity.

“It is important that we continue to protect and manage Balabac’s valued mangrove forests to boost our efforts in keeping a healthy environment and supporting local livelihoods,” said Balabac Mayor Shuiab J. Astami, who officially launched the project in Balabac Island.

“We are excited to be part of this multi-stakeholder effort that will restore critical mangroves in Balabac, Palawan and improve the way their coastal resources are managed for the long haul. We strongly hope that this project will succeed and serve as an example for many other communities,” said Executive Director of WWF-Philippines, Katherine Custodio.

Moving forward, Epson aims to continue setting a more sustainable example for corporations across the region.

“Working alongside governments, local champions and conservation organizations, we are proud to be part of this public-private partnership that is aligned with our renewed Epson 25 Corporate Vision—which aims to enrich communities and help realize a sustainable society,” concludes Bonoan. ”We hope that this opens up a path for more sustainable partnerships in the future.”

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SM Green Finds is going beyond shopping

SM Supermalls President Steven Tan acknowledges that “People already know about the importance of sustainability. Their question is ‘What can I do?’ SM helps them find a way to make a difference.”

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When it comes to challenges as big as climate change, businesses and communities have to work together and consumers need to have concrete, practical options that can allow them to go green in their everyday life.

SM Supermalls President Steven Tan acknowledges that “People already know about the importance of sustainability. Their question is ‘What can I do?’ SM helps them find a way to make a difference.”

SM, the country’s largest retailer, is taking the lead in offering accessible eco-friendly options to their consumers through the recently launched Green Finds. Consumers simply need to spot items and products with a Green Finds badge.

The SM Green Finds initiative helps customers develop a sustainable lifestyle through affordable and easy-to-find eco-friendly products showcased in convenient pop-up stores.

These kiosks feature several green shopping options from 22 participating brands which includes SM Home, SM Fashion, Watsons, The Body Shop, Kultura, Baby Company, Ace Hardware, Supplies Station, Sports Central, Toy Kingdom, and Signature Lines.

Supporting local businesses

Many products featured in the Green Finds pop-up stores are made by local businesses. This is part of SM’s long-standing commitment to support Filipino small and medium enterprises—driven by its origins as a small shoe store in downtime Manila in 1958.

Today, SM works with almost 25,000 small and medium enterprises representing 27% of the total SMEs in the country. Aside from helping them reach consumers through several retail channels, it also gives free training on sustainability and social and environmental topics through the Green Movement Sustainability School.

Empowering consumers

SM is also offering multiple channels where consumers can pick out green items: from brick-and-mortar stores to online spaces.

“As the country’s largest shopping platform—with malls nationwide, the ShopSM website and app, and services like Personal Shopper and Click and Collect—we are in a unique position to make it easier for people to spot green finds,” says Cathy Ileto, VP for Corporate Communications, SM Retail.

“Our platforms empower consumers by giving them more choices, which drives the movement towards a green lifestyle.”

Community Engagement through the SM Green Movement

The SM Green Finds is part of a comprehensive program called the SM Green Movement, which brings together the customers, suppliers and partners, and communities in a joint effort to help protect the planet.

“The goal of the SM Green Movement is to get everyone involved in the effort to stop global warming and protect the planet,” Tan further stated.

For several years, SM has engaged the local communities in environmental programs. This includes recycling programs like Trash to Cash Market, SM Electronic Waste Collection, and coastal cleanups.

SM has also encouraged customers to use more eco-friendly transportation, through bike lanes and electronic vehicle (EV) charging stations in several of its malls.

Join the Green Movement

The SM Green Movement is a collective effort of SM, its customers, communities, and partners to promote green living, green culture, and a green planet. For more information, visit this website.

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