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Archive for the ‘Diabetes & Bariatrics’ Category

Haven’t had time to sit down and write about my trip to the operating room with Dr. Horacio Ham and Dr. Rafael Abril until now, but that’s okay because I am going back again on Saturday for a longer case at a different facility.  Nice surprise to find out that Dr. Octavio Campa was scheduled for anesthesia.  Both Dr. Ham and Dr. Abril told me that Dr. Campa is one their ‘short list’ of three or four preferred anesthesiologists.  That confirms my own impressions and observations and what several other surgeons have told me.

campa

Dr. Campa (left) and another anesthesiologist at Hispano Americano

That evening we were at Hispano – Americano which is a private hospital that happens to be located across the street from the private clinic offices of several of the doctors I have interviewed.  It was just a quick short case (like most laparoscopy cases) – but everything went beautifully.

As I’ve said before, Dr. Campa is an excellent anesthesiologist so he doesn’t tolerate any hemodynamic instability, or any of the other conditions that make me concerned about patients during surgery.

Dr. Ham  and Dr. Abril work well together – everything was according to protocols – patient sterilely prepped and draped, etc..

laparoscopy

laparoscopy with Dr. Ham & Dr. Abril

I really enjoy talking with the docs, who are both fluent in English – but I won’t get more of an interview with Dr. Abril until Saturday.

w/ Dr. Ham

with Dr. Horacio Ham in the operating room after the conclusion of a successful case

Then – on Wednesday night – I got to see another side of the Doctors Ham & Abril on the set of their radio show, Los Doctores.  They were interviewing the ‘good doctor’ on sympathetectomies for hyperhidrosis – so he invited me to come along.

Los Doctores invited me to participate in the show – but with my Spanish (everyone remembers the ‘pajina’ mispronunciation episode in Bogotá, right?)  I thought it was better if I stay on the sidelines instead of risking offending all of Mexicali..

Los Doctores

on the set of Los Doctores; left to right: Dr. Rafael Abril, Dr. Carlos Ochoa, Dr. Mario Bojorquez and Dr. Horacio Ham

It really wasn’t much like I expected; maybe because all of the doctors know each other pretty well, so it was a lot more relaxed, and fun than I expected.  Dr. Abril is the main host of the show, and he’s definitely got the pattern down; charming, witty and relaxed, but interesting and involved too.. (my Spanish surprises me at times – I understood most of his jokes…)  It’s an audience participation type show – so listeners email / text their questions during the show, which makes it interesting but prevents any break in the format, which is nice.  (Though I suppose a few crazy callers now and then would be entertaining.)

Dr. Ochoa did a great talk about sympathectomy and how life changing it can be for patients after surgery, and took several questions.  After meeting several patients pre and post-operatively for hyperhidrosis, I’d have to say that it’s true.  It’s one of those conditions (excessive palmar and underarm sweating) that you don’t think about if you don’t have – but certainly negatively affects sufferers.  I remember an English speaking patient in Colombia telling me about how embarrassing it was to shake hands -(she was a salesperson) and how offended people would get as she wiped off her hands before doing so.  She also had to wear old-fashioned dress shields so she wouldn’t have big underarm stains all the time..  This was in Bogota (not steamy hot Cartagena), which is known for it’s year-round fall like temperatures and incredibly stylish women so you can imagine a degree of her embarrassment.

It (bilateral sympathectomy) is also one of those procedures that hasn’t really caught on in the USA – I knew a couple people in Flagstaff who told me they had to travel to Houston (or was it Dallas?) to find a surgeon who performed the procedure..  So expect a more detailed article in the future for readers who want to know more.

Tomorrow, (technically later today) I head back to San Luis with the good doctor in the morning to see a couple of patients – then back to the hospital.. and then an interview with a general surgeon.. So it should be an interesting and fun day.

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Just finished interviewing Dr. Horacio Ham, a bariatric surgeon with the DOCS (Diabetes & Obesity Control Surgery) Center here in Mexicali.  Later this evening, we’ll be heading off to surgery, so I can see what he does first-hand.

Tomorrow sounds like a jam-packed day for the young doctor, he’s being interviewed for a University television series on Obesity in addition to his normal activities (surgery, patients) and of course, the radio show.  Turns out his guest doctor tomorrow evening is none other my professor, the ‘good doctor.’

Sounds like a great show – so if you are interested it’s on 104.9 FM (and has internet streaming) at 8 pm tomorrow night..

I’ll report back on the OR in my next post..

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Interesting article over at Medscape on the role of bariatric surgery in the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and (NASH).

For the uninitiated, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a serious condition where functional tissue of the liver (used to metabolize and detoxify everything we ingest including medications) is replaced with fat tissue, and eventually fibrosis.  As more and more healthy tissue becomes fatty & fibrotic, the liver function deteriorates until it progresses to cirrhosis and eventual liver failure.

Currently, the only treatment for cirrhosis and liver failure is liver transplantation (which is still only a temporary measure, even in the best case scenarios*.)

But why is the happening?  and who does it affect?  Obesity and obese patients.

To better understand what’s going on – we need to review some basic pathophysiology:

First, lets look at food.  Not in cultural or psychosocial way, or even in food preferences, but food as the body sees it: Fuel for all of our cellular functions.  Just as we run our houses, appliances and cars on different types of fuel – gasoline, natural gas, electricity etc.  our body runs on different types of fuels (proteins, fats, sugars) that all get broken down to serve as energy.  Like fossil fuels – the metabolism of each of these fuels requires different mechanisms (ie. gas-powered versus electric cars) and creates different by-products.

Now I want you to think of a scale.

No, not this kind of scale

No – I want you to think of a scale, as in a delicate balance between differing metabolisms for different fuels.

Think of a multi-tiered scale, where a delicate balance between the types of metabolism and waste products is required for continued good health – anything that upsets the balance such as diabetes – throws everything out of whack.

Normally, as fuel (food) in consumed – the body uses insulin to transport the fuel into the cell for processing (metabolism), so think of insulin as a wheelbarrow carrying in complex carbohydrates (sugars) into the cell.

Now, in a person with obesity & diabetes – two things are occurring – too much fuel and not enough wheelbarrows**.  These means that:

1.  Excess fuel is converted into fat (adipose tissue – which we are all familiar with).

2.  Without the wheelbarrows, the body has to find another way to break down the fuel.  This other pathway – for fat metabolism has a lot of by-products  – namely free fatty acids (cholesterol and triglycerides.)  This leads to numerous problems (hypercholesterolemia and cardiovascular disease for one), and fatty liver disease.

(This is a gross oversimplification of a series of very complex mechanisms, but for today’s discussion – it is sufficient.)

Just as the rates of obesity, and diabesity (diabetes caused by obesity) have skyrocketed, so has cardiovascular disease (which we’ve talked about before) and the prevalence of non-alcoholic liver disease. In fact, the authors of the study below found that 70% of the people with a BMI greater than 35 have some degree of non-alcoholic liver disease, and over 30% have the more severe form – NASH.

The article by Rabl & Campos (2012) looks at the literature on the outcomes (progression or regression of disease) after bariatric surgery in patients previously diagnosed with NAFLD.  (I’ve linked a pdf version of the entire article under the full reference.)

They looked at the current bariatric procedures including the ever popular lap-band procedure and it’s effectiveness in treating NAFLD. What they found was that in the majority of cases – with certain procedures (formal gastric bypass surgery aka Roux en Y, and biliopancreatic diversion procedures) the disease process was not only halted, but regressed as a result of both weight loss, and a reversal of altered metabolism.  They also found that as a result of a reduced stomach surface area (in comparison to lap-band procedures where the stomach remains intact) – reduced ghrelin leads to increased weight loss.

(If you don’t know about ghrelin – think of it as an evil gremlin (the one that makes you want cookies when you know you are about to eat dinner) – since it is a potent appetite stimulant produced by the stomach.  The larger the stomach – the more ghrelin released – so the surgical procedures such as gastric bypass where a portion of the stomach is actually surgical removed are significantly more effective overall that lap-banding procedures.)

This is a significant advancement for medicine and the treatment of obesity related disease – since as we suggested above, multiple authors including Burianesi et. al (2008) suggest that the true prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is much higher than we realize, (thus affecting a lot more people.)

Notes

* There is a tendency in American society to ‘gloss over’ many of life’s harsh realities, and no where is this more evidence than in the public perceptions of organ transplantation as a ‘cure’ or permanent solution for organ failure.  Transplanted organs do not have the same life expectancy as native organs (even in the best case scenarios) – and for most people who need non-kidney transplants – they get one opportunity, not multiple.  Transplanted organs last ten years – maybe fifteen at the outside – so this is not a cure (particularly in young patients).  Transplantation also carries a whole host of other problems with it – such as the development of opportunistic infections and cancer from the drugs used to prevent rejection, or rejection itself.  The very drugs used to prevent rejection of some organs may cause failure of others – so relying on transplantation as a ‘cure’ for a disease that is becoming more and more prevalent is a pretty poor strategy.

** This balance between mechanisms can be upset in other ways – by starvation, for example, when the body starts catabolizing proteins..  Catabolizing – think cannibalism – as the body consumes it’s own muscle tissue because there is nothing left for it to eat, after it has exhausted all other sources of fuel.

References and Resources

Rabl, C. & Campos, G. M. (2012)  The Impact of Bariatric Surgery on Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis. Semin Liver Dis. 2012;32(1):80-91 [Article under discussion above].

Body Mass Index calculator – West Virginia Dietetic Association.

Bugianesi et. al. (2008).  Clinical update on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and steatohepatitis. Annals of hepatology, 2008; 7 (2): April – June 157-160.  The authors ask, “What is the real prevalence of disease?”

Goldstein, B. J. (2001) Insulin Resistance: Implications for Metabolic and Cardiovascular Diseases.  This is a good presentation that explains how alterations in glucose metabolism (from diabetes) affects fat metabolism.

Overview of NASH/ NAFLD with classifications, diagnostics, prognostics : University of California, San Diego – Dan Lawson, 2010 [notes]. Good reference for medical students, health care professionals wanting a brief review.

Salt, W. B. (2004).  Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD): A comprehensive review.  J Insur Med, 2004; 36: 27 -41.

For more about Bariatric surgery – including the Pros & Cons

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As my loyal readers know, I do my best to try to give fair and balanced depictions of surgical procedures, as well as reviews of medical and surgical news and research.  Over at Medscape.com – there is a new video discussion by Dr. Anne Peters, MD.  Dr. Peters is an endocrinologist and a certified diabetic education.  In this video – she talks about the realities of bariatric surgery, and these are things I think that people need to hear.

For more on Bariatric surgery – see my other posts

One of the points that she makes, is (in my opinion) critical.  While bariatric surgery has been shown to cure diabetes in many individuals – there is no medical/ surgical or other treatment to cure much of the pathology related to the development of obesity in the first place.  Obesity is more than poor dietary and exercise habits – it is a psycho-social and cultural phenomenon as well.

For people who don’t want to go to the Medscape site – I have re-posted a transcript of the video from Medscape.com below.

Bariatric Surgery a ‘Magic Bullet’ for Diabetes?

Anne L. Peters, MD, CDE

Transcript
Hi. I’m Dr. Anne Peters from the University of Southern California. Today I’m going to talk about the role of bariatric surgery in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

There have been a number of recent studies that show just how good bariatric surgery can be for patients with type 2 diabetes.[1,2] In many cases, it seems to cure type 2 diabetes (at least for now), and I think it is an important tool for treating patients with obesity and diabetes.

However, I also have concerns about bariatric surgery, concerns that go back for years as I watched its increased use. When I was a Fellow, I developed a sense of the benefit of extreme caloric restriction for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. I will never forget the first patient I had, an extremely obese man with type 2 diabetes who was on 200 units of insulin per day. His blood sugar levels remained high no matter what we did. He was a significant challenge in terms of management.

One day, he got sick. I don’t remember how or why he got sick, but he ended up in the hospital and I thought that his management would continue to be incredibly difficult. In fact, it was miraculously easy. Within 2 days, he was completely off of insulin and his blood glucose levels remained normal for the entire time he was in the hospital.

This was only a short-lived benefit, however. After he was discharged, he went back to his old habits. He started eating normally, regained the weight, and went back on several hundred units of insulin per day. But it really impressed me how acute severe caloric restriction could, in essence, treat type 2 diabetes.

I have seen many overweight and obese patients with diabetes over the years, and I have seen the frustration as patients go on drugs (such as insulin) that are weight-gain drugs, and they keep gaining more weight. Although I am a big advocate for lifestyle change, many patients can’t do much better. They can’t lose appropriate amounts of weight by their own will or through weight loss programs, or increase their exercise. Therefore, bariatric surgery remains a reasonable option.

For many of my patients who have a body mass index > 35 and type 2 diabetes, I recommend that they at least consider bariatric surgery. Interestingly, very few of my patients actually go for the procedure and I ponder why this is. In part, I think it’s because of the initial evaluation, when you are told what bariatric surgery is like and how much you have to change your habits after the procedure. Before surgery, you are eating however you want to eat and, although you may be trying to diet, there is no enforcement of that diet. After surgery, you have to change how you eat, the portions you eat, and when you eat. I know that people feel fuller, and this is a lot more than just changing one’s anatomy. I think there are significant changes in gut hormones that regulate appetite and satiety. Nonetheless, it is a big change, and many people don’t want to change their habits that much. I know I would be somewhat leery if I were to undergo a surgical procedure that would change my whole way of being. For lots of people, food has many different associations. It’s not just caloric intake; it’s festival, it’s party, it’s joy, it’s sadness. It’s something people like to do, and it hasn’t a lot to do with just maintaining a positive or neutral caloric balance.

I find that people are reluctant to change, and that is understandable. We also don’t know the long-term complications of the procedure. As an endocrinologist, I see 2 things. First, I tend to get sicker patients, so my patients who are on insulin when they undergo bariatric surgery may not get off insulin entirely. They become very disappointed because they think that bariatric surgery will cure them of their diabetes. I also see patients who are too thin, who are nutritionally deficient, who have severe hypoglycemia, or who have significant issues from the surgery itself. In some cases, these patients have needed a takedown of the surgical procedure, restoring them back to their native anatomy.

I think of bariatric surgery as a tool. It is one of many ways to treat our patients with type 2 diabetes. I am a little concerned because we don’t have long-term follow-up data. I think that all bariatric surgery programs, in addition to doing a very thorough preoperative evaluation and counseling, need to do long-term, lifelong follow-up of these patients to see how they do, to see if their obesity returns. In many cases, this does happen. [Patients need to be followed up] to see what happens to their lipids, their blood pressure, and their blood sugar levels over time, and to monitor for other complications.

I think [bariatric surgery] is something that we need to recommend to our patients, and for those in whom it’s appropriate, it is a reasonable step. This has been Dr. Anne Peters for Medscape.

 References
  1. Mingrone G, Panunzi S, De Gaetano A, et al. Bariatric surgery versus conventional medical therapy for type 2 diabetes. N Engl J Med. 2012 Mar 26. [Epub ahead of print]
  2. Schauer PR, Kashyap SR, Wolski K, et al. Bariatric surgery versus intensive medical therapy in obese patients with diabetes. N Engl J Med. 2012; Mar 26. [Epub ahead of print]

Life after Bariatric Surgery

There is also an excellent article by two nurse practitioners about the long-term interventions and health monitoring needed for wellness promotion and health maintenance after bariatric surgery.  While this article is written for other health care providers – it gives an excellent look at life after bariatric surgery, as well as an overview of the surgical techniques, pre-operative evaluation and anticipated post-operative outcomes.

Thomas, C. M. & Morritt Taub, L. F. (2011).  Monitoring and preventing the long-term sequelae of bariatric surgery.  J of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, 2011, 23 (9).

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The news about Metformin as a possible ally in the fight against cancer has finally taken wings.   (This was first reported in the literature several years ago.)

 As we’ve spoken about in the past – these discoveries about the ‘side benefits’ of this powerful oral anti-glycemic are finally getting some well-deserved press.  As a drug that’s often been shunted aside despite it’s low cost, and impressive safety profile for the more pricey and flashy (but less clinically-proven) alternatives (Yes, Byetta, I am talking about you) this could serve as a boon to consumers..

The other thing we should take from this research is that it remains critical to aggressively control diabetes – for more than just the usual cardiovascular risks but to reduce the risk of our patients developing cancer.  While insulin is a godsend to patients with uncontrolled glucose – metformin should remain on the menu even after the initiation of insulin therapies.  Too often, metformin falls off the roster.  We also need to impress upon our patients to potent nature of this innoculous sounding medication.  Frequently patients inform me that they have abandoned metformin for various reasons in favor of the more pricey, and heavily advertised medications.  Unfortunately, they are really just short-changing themselves: both their wallets and their health.

Coming soon – more about the ‘magic bullet’ of Aspirin – as both a cancer-fighter and an essential element for cardiovascular health.

Unleash Metformin: Reconsideration of the Contraindication in Patients with Renal Impairment – Wenya R. Lu, PharmD.

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A full year after we reported it here (and several years after initially being reported in the literature), mainstream media has finally picked up the story about gastric bypass surgery for the definitive treatment of diabetes.   The story made all of the heavies; the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times.

Unfortunately, all of these outlets seem unaware of the existing literature in this area – these results while encouraging, are not surprising.  Similar results have been demonstrated in several other (but smaller) studies for the past ten years, which led to previous recommendations (last summer) for the adoption of gastric bypass surgery as a first-line treatment for diabetes in obese patients.

The publication of two new studies showing clear benefits for diabetics undergoing bariatric surgery has brought this news to the forefront.  In both of these studies, diabetic patients were able to stop taking oral glycemics and insulins after surgery within days..

As this front page story from the New York Times notes – these results do not apply to the more widely marketed ‘lap-band.’  This comes to no surprise to dedicated followers at Cartagena Surgery, who have been reading articles on this topic since our site’s inception in late 2010.

You heard it here first.  For more information on this topic, see our tab on Diabetes & Bariatrics under the ‘surgery’ header. We’ve included a small selection from our archives here.

Bariatric surgery headlines – August 2010

Gastric bypass surgery gets the international federation of diabetes approval.

Gastric bypass as treatment for diabetes

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Not as innocent as the Corn Refiners Association would have you believe.

In a courtroom in Los Angeles, a fierce battle is being pitched right now – one that affects almost every person in this nation..    It’s a lawsuit from the nation’s sugar producers accusing the corn industry of false advertising.. That’s right – it takes industry giants to take on those ridiculous, and mis-leading ads.

You know, those ads that ridicule consumers for their health concerns related to the use of high-fructose corn syrup?  (We’ve discussed these health concerns previously in a series of posts that you can see here  and here.)

Link to ad by Corn Industry

But, here (finally) is a response to those ads – that uses science, not fallacy to refute those claims.

At the same time, the Corn Refiners Association has filed a petition with the Food & Drug Administration to change the name of their product from ‘High-fructose corn syrup” to the more innocuous-sounding “Corn Sugar,” which is just another attempt to deceive the American public.

This move comes just as a new medical study links the consumption of a single daily soda with a 20% increase in heart attacks in men.  There’s a great article over at the Heart.org that summarizing these findings, which I have re-posted below for readers.  (the original study was published in Circulation).

Unfortunately, corn syrup in our everyday products in not usually so easy to identify.

A soda a day raises CHD risk by 20% – Lisa Nainggolan

March 12. 2012

Boston, MA – Sugary drinks are associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) as well as some adverse changes in lipids, inflammatory factors, and leptin, according to a new analysis of men participating in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, reported by  Dr Lawrence de Koning (Children’s Hospital Boston, MA) and colleagues online March 12, 2012 in Circulation [1].

Even a moderate amount of sugary beverage consumption—we are talking about one can of soda every day—is associated with a significant 20% increased risk of heart disease even after adjusting for a wide range of cardiovascular risk factors,” senior author Dr Frank B Hu (Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA) told heartwire. “The increased risk is quite substantial, and I think has important public-health implications given the widespread consumption of soda, not only in the US but also increasing very rapidly in developing countries.”

The increased risk is quite substantial, and I think has important public-health implications given the widespread consumption of soda.

The researchers did not find an increased risk of CHD with artificially sweetened beverages in this analysis, however. “Diet soda has been shown to be associated with weight gain and metabolic diseases in previous studies, even though this hasn’t been substantiated in our study,” says Hu. “The problem with diet soda is its high-intensity sweet taste, which may condition people’s taste. It’s still an open question whether diet soda is an optimal alternative to regular soda; we need more data on this. ”

Hu says water is the best thing to drink, or coffee or tea. Fruit juice is “not a very good alternative, because of the high amount of sugar,” he adds, although if diluted with water, “it’s much better than a can of soda,” he notes.

And Hu says although the current results apply only to men, prior data from his group in women in the Nurses’ Health Study [from 2009] were comparable, “which really boosts the credibility of the findings.”

Inflammation could be a pathway for impact of soda upon CHD risk

Hu and colleagues explain that while much research has shown a link between the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and type 2 diabetes, few studies have looked at the association of these drinks with CHD.

Hence, they analyzed the associations of cumulatively averaged sugar-sweetened (eg, sodas) and artificially sweetened (eg, diet sodas) beverage intake with incident fatal and nonfatal CHD (MI) in 42 883 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up study. Beginning in 1986 and every two years until December 2008, participants answered questionnaires about diet and other health habits. A blood sample was provided midway through the study.

There were 3683 CHD cases over 22 years of follow-up. Those in the top quartile of sugar-sweetened-beverage intake had a 20% higher relative risk of CHD than those in the bottom quartile (RR 1.20; p for trend <0.001) after adjustment for age, smoking, physical activity, alcohol, multivitamins, family history, diet quality, energy intake, body-mass index, preenrollment weight change, and dieting.

Adjustment for self-reported high cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, and diagnosed type 2 diabetes only slightly attenuated these associations, which suggests that drinking soda “may impact on CHD risk above and beyond traditional risk factors,” say the researchers.

Consumption of artificially sweetened drinks was not significantly associated with CHD (multivariate RR 1.02; p for trend=0.28).

Intake of sugar-sweetened drinks, but not artificially sweetened ones, was also significantly associated with increased triglycerides and several circulating inflammatory factors—including C-reactive protein, interleukin 6 (IL-6), and tumor-necrosis-factor receptor 1 (TNFr1)—as well as decreased HDL cholesterol, lipoprotein (a) (Lp[a]), and leptin (p<0.02).

“Inflammation is a key factor in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease and cardiometabolic disease and could represent an additional pathway by which sugar-sweetened beverages influence risk,” say Hu et al.

Cutting consumption of soda is one of easiest behaviors to change

Hu says that one of the major constituents of soda, high-fructose corn syrup, is subsidized in the US, making such drinks “ridiculously cheap” and helping explain why consumption is so high, particularly in lower socioeconomic groups.

Doctors should be advising people with heart disease or at risk to cut back on sugary beverages; it’s almost a no-brainer.

“Doctors should set an example for their patients first,” he stresses. “Then, for people who already have heart disease or who are at high risk, physicians should be advising them to cut back on sugary beverages; it’s almost a no-brainer, like recommending that they stop smoking and do more exercise. The consumption of sugary beverages is a relatively easy behavior to change.”

And although this particular study included mostly white subjects and there are few data on the risk of cardiovascular disease associated with the consumption of soda in people of other ethnicities, there are data on its effect on type 2 diabetes in these groups, he says.

“It has been shown for minority groups—such as African Americans and Asians—that they are more susceptible to the detrimental effects” of sugary drinks on diabetes incidence, he notes.

And if you think soft drinks are the only culprits containing high-fructose corn syrup – you’ll be surprised.  Livestrong has published a list of corn syrup containing products – and you’ll see with even a quick glance, that it’s everywhere, and in everything.

Another blog talking about the harm of Corn Syrup

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