Ikea Launches Its First Vegan Burger in Canada

Anna Starostinetskaya wrote . . . . . . . . .

IKEA launched its first vegan burger at its new concept “Foodbox” in Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada.

The concept is a trailer outside of the IKEA store that serves some of its in-store bistro items—such as vegan Swedish meatballs and its new vegan hot dog—along with new options.

The Växt Burger (CAD $5 or USD $3.75) is served with lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, and vegan mayonnaise on a vegan bun and can be ordered with vegan cheese for an additional CAD $0.50 (USD $0.38).

The foodbox also serves kid’s meals (which include apple slices and a juice box) that can be ordered with vegan meatballs.

While IKEA did not disclose if this concept would be expanded to other locations, the furniture chain has added a variety of vegan options in recent years, including vegan strawberry soft serve this summer to locations in the United States.

In addition to its existing plant-based meatballs, IKEA is also developing a meatier vegan meatball to keep up with current trends and plans to test the new product with the public early next year with the aim of adding to its global menu shortly thereafter.

Source: Veg News

Eggs with Spinach and Cheese Sauce


2 lb fresh spinach, stalks removed
3 tbsp butter or margarine
1/3 tbsp plain flour
1-1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup grated mature Cheddar cheese
pinch of English mustard powder
large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and halved lengthwise
salt and black pepper


  1. Wash but do not dry the spinach, then place in a large saucepan with just the water clinging to the leaves. Cook until the spinach is wilted and no free liquid is visible. Tip the spinach into a sieve and squeeze out as much liquid as possible, then chop the spinach.
  2. Melt 2 tbsp of the butter or margarine in a saucepan, stir in the flour, cook for 1 minute, then remove from the heat. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly, then return to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring. Simmer gently for about 4 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in 4 tbsp cheese, the mustard and seasoning.
  4. Preheat the grill.
  5. Melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan, then stir in the spinach, nutmeg and seasoning and warm through. Transfer the spinach to a shallow baking dish and arrange the egg halves on top in a single layer.
  6. Pour the sauce over the eggs, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and place under the grill until golden and bubbling.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Vegetarian Classics

How Plant Based Diets Can Help People with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Maria Cohut wrote . . . . . . . . .

Rheumatoid arthritis — a chronic autoimmune condition that causes pain and stiffness in the joints — has a prevalence of between 0.3% and 1% among the world’s population, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The condition can become so debilitating as to stop people from continuing in full time work. As the WHO also note, within only 10 years from disease onset, at least 50% of individuals with rheumatoid arthritis in high income countries become “unable to hold down a full time job.”

Doctors usually prescribe a range of drugs and lifestyle adjustments to help people manage their rheumatoid arthritis and make disability less likely. Management strategies that healthcare providers might advise include increased physical activity and weight loss.

Now, a new review appearing in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition shows that following a plant based diet can be a useful intervention when it comes to coping with this condition, as it triggers some helpful biological changes.

‘Symptoms may improve or even disappear’

The review — conducted by specialists from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, DC — looked at recent studies that observed the impact of diet on biological mechanisms that are important in rheumatoid arthritis.

It concluded that plant based diets lead to specific changes that can help relieve the symptoms of this condition.

One key way in which plant based diets can be helpful is by reducing levels of inflammation. The review authors cite a study from 2015 that showed participants who ate a plant based diet for 2 months had lower inflammation than those who ate a diet that was high in fat and featured more animal products.

The team also notes that additional research has found an association between adherence to diets high in fat and processed meat and a rise in markers of inflammation. One of these markers is C-reactive protein, a protein present in the blood, and one which reacts to inflammation.

On the other hand, following plant based diets or diets that have a high content of fiber has an association with lower levels of C-reactive protein.

Another study that the review looked at was a randomized clinical trial showing that, after following a low fat vegan diet for 4 weeks, individuals with moderate-to-severe rheumatoid arthritis saw significant improvements in symptoms, including joint pain and stiffness, tenderness, and swelling.

People with rheumatoid arthritis can also benefit from losing extra weight. According to evidence from a 2018 study, overweight individuals with rheumatoid arthritis who shed in excess of 5 kilograms were three times more likely to have improvements in their symptoms compared to those who lost less weight.

The review authors explain that vegetarian and vegan diets appear to help people lose weight, more so than any other diet types.

Finally, the researchers explain that plant based diets also seem to promote a healthy gut environment, since many of these diets are high in fiber, which, as studies have shown, influences the composition of the gut microbiome.

Specifically, plant based diets seem to increase bacterial diversity in the gut, which could help people with rheumatoid arthritis, precisely because they tend to lack bacterial diversity.

The investigators who conducted the review suggest there is a need for further research into the benefits that plant based diets may afford to people with inflammatory autoimmune conditions, as well as their underlying mechanisms.

However, they note that, so far, the emerging evidence suggests that eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes could make a real difference for people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Source: Medical News Today

New Blood Test Capable of Detecting Multiple Types of Cancer

A new blood test in development has shown ability to screen for numerous types of cancer with a high degree of accuracy, a trial of the test shows. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute investigators will present the results of the multi-center trial during a session today at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2019 Congress.

The test, developed by GRAIL, Inc., uses next-generation sequencing technology to probe DNA for tiny chemical tags (methylation) that influence whether genes are active or inactive. When applied to nearly 3,600 blood samples – some from patients with cancer, some from people who had not been diagnosed with cancer at the time of the blood draw – the test successfully picked up a cancer signal from the cancer patient samples, and correctly identified the tissue from where the cancer began (the tissue of origin). The test’s specificity – its ability to return a positive result only when cancer is actually present – was high, as was its ability to pinpoint the organ or tissue of origin, researchers found.

The new test looks for DNA, which cancer cells shed into the bloodstream when they die. In contrast to “liquid biopsies,” which detect genetic mutations or other cancer-related alterations in DNA, the technology focuses on modifications to DNA known as methyl groups. Methyl groups are chemical units that can be attached to DNA, in a process called methylation, to control which genes are “on” and which are “off.” Abnormal patterns of methylation turn out to be, in many cases, more indicative of cancer – and cancer type – than mutations are. The new test zeroes in on portions of the genome where abnormal methylation patterns are found in cancer cells.

“Our previous work indicated that methylation-based assays outperform traditional DNA-sequencing approaches to detecting multiple forms of cancer in blood samples,” said the study’s lead author, Geoffrey Oxnard, MD, of Dana-Farber. “The results of the new study demonstrate that such assays are a feasible way of screening people for cancer.”

In the study, investigators analyzed cell-free DNA (DNA that had once been confined to cells but had entered the bloodstream upon the cells’ death) in 3,583 blood samples, including 1,530 from patients diagnosed with cancer and 2,053 from people without cancer. The patient samples comprised more than 20 types of cancer, including hormone receptor-negative breast, colorectal, esophageal, gallbladder, gastric, head and neck, lung, lymphoid leukemia, multiple myeloma, ovarian, and pancreatic cancer.

The overall specificity was 99.4%, meaning only 0.6% of the results incorrectly indicated that cancer was present. The sensitivity of the assay for detecting a pre-specified high mortality cancers (the percent of blood samples from these patients that tested positive for cancer) was 76%. Within this group, the sensitivity was 32% for patients with stage I cancer; 76% for those with stage II; 85% for stage III; and 93% for stage IV. Sensitivity across all cancer types was 55%, with similar increases in detection by stage. For the 97% of samples that returned a tissue of origin result, the test correctly identified the organ or tissue of origin in 89% of cases.

Detecting even a modest percent of common cancers early could translate into many patients who may be able to receive more effective treatment if the test were in wide use, Oxnard remarked.

Source: Dana-Faber Cancer Institute

Radiation Right After Surgery Might Not Help Prostate Cancer Patients

In the largest investigation of its kind, researchers conclude that subjecting prostate cancer patients to radiation therapy immediately after surgery doesn’t give them an advantage in staying cancer-free.

The finding stems from a review of four studies that together tracked outcomes for more than 3,500 prostate cancer patients from multiple countries.

If the findings help change standard practice, “the good news is that, in future, many men will avoid the side effects of radiotherapy,” said study first author Chris Parker, of the Institute of Cancer Research in London.

His team was to present its findings Friday at the European Society for Medical Oncology annual meeting, in Barcelona.

Parker stressed that radiation side effects can be troublesome. They “include urinary leakage and narrowing of the urethra, which can make urination difficult,” he said in a meeting news release. “Both are potential complications after surgery alone, but the risk is increased if radiotherapy is used as well.”

Curbing cancer’s spread

One prostate cancer specialist explained why doctors have often ordered radiation for patients who’ve undergone prostate removal (prostatectomy).

“Many men that undergo radical surgery for prostate cancer may have a spread of the disease beyond the capsule of the prostate, or invasion [of the tumor] into the seminal vesicles or lymph nodes,” said Dr. Louis Potters, deputy physician-in-chief at Northwell Health Cancer Institute, in Lake Success, N.Y.

“These factors occur in about 30% of men having surgery,” said Potters, who wasn’t involved in the new trial. The post-op radiation is meant to “mop up” potential cancer cells that may have spread beyond the prostate.

“Several randomized controlled studies with long-term follow-up conclude that earlier use of radiotherapy is better than delayed radiotherapy to control the disease,” Potters noted.

But according to Parker’s group, the new trial is one of the largest such investigations into the issue, involving nearly 1,400 men who’d undergone prostatectomy. After their operation, the men were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group got radiation right away, while the other was treated with a “watch-and-wait” approach and only got radiation if the cancer returned.

Outcomes for both groups were monitored closely for five years.

Parker’s team found that when it came to the risk of cancer’s return, there was essentially no difference between the two groups. The trial found that 85% of men in the immediate-radiation group were free of cancer five years after their surgery, compared with 88% among the men whose radiation was either delayed or never ordered.

There was a big difference in terms of unwanted side effects, however: while 5.3% of men who got post-surgical radiation said they suffered from urinary incontinence during the year after the treatment, that number fell to 2.7% among men in the “watch-and-wait” protocol.

Delaying might be better

A second analysis pooled the results of three other studies, which in total involved about 2,150 men. That study also found just a 1% difference in five-year survival rates between the radiation and no-radiation groups.

Taken together, the results suggest that prostate cancer patients can safely forgo immediate post-surgical radiation — as well as the side effects radiotherapy can bring, Parker said.

“The results suggest that radiotherapy is equally effective whether it is given to all men shortly after surgery or given later to those men with recurrent disease,” said Parker, who is also with The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. “There is a strong case now that observation should be the standard approach after surgery, and radiotherapy should only be used if the cancer comes back.”

The case may not be completely closed on this issue, however. The London team suggested that continued research is needed to track disease-progression rates for a full 10 years.

Case-by-case approach

For his part, Potters agreed that the five-year follow-up is still too short a time to justify a definitive change in practice. But he said that, already, U.S. physicians are often backing away from giving all patients radiation immediately after prostatectomy. Instead, they are making decisions based on tumor type and other factors.

And Potters said that ongoing advances in genetic testing “may ultimately best determine who most needs early post-operative radiotherapy.”

Dr. Lee Richstone is chairman of urology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. Reviewing the new data, he agreed that the practice of giving patients immediate post-op radiation has been “controversial,” and the U.K. study might lay the controversy to rest.

“The results suggest there is no benefit to immediate radiation, and patients can be safely watched,” Richstone said. “This is important because it helps to prevent thousands of patients from getting radiation that they may not need, and radiation can have toxic side effects in some men,” he added.

“More research is needed,” Richstone said, “but this data supports what I do for the patients I operate on. Most are observed without radiation, unless they have multiple high-risk features and the benefits of radiation outweigh the risks.”

Because the new findings were presented at a medical meeting, they should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Source: HealthDay

Today’s Comic