Fact check: Verifying President Donald Trump’s alleged failures in office

Fact check: Verifying President Donald Trump's alleged failures in office

A post listing 5 “accomplishments” of Trump is partly false. High national debt and unemployment, and a bear market have occurred on Trump’s watch. Shares fell Monday in Asia, tracking losses on Wall Street as rising virus cases cause some U.S. states to backtrack on pandemic reopenings. Daryl Morey and Chris Paul got creative on June 28, 2017 with the massive trade that brought the All-Star guard to Houston. A proposed trade by ESPN sent Dante Pettis to the Texans for Keke Coutee. The “Virtual Power Plant – Global Market Trajectory & Analytics” report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com’s offering. Probiotics, manufactured mixtures of "good bacteria" that help digest food, have become a growing multibillion-dollar industry. But do they work?

On June 12, the Facebook page Ridin’ With Biden stated, “We can’t take 4 more years of Trump’s ‘winning,'” then listed some of President Donald Trump’s “accomplishments” while in office:

  • Added $5.2 trillion to the debt
  • The 10 biggest Dow drops in history
  • Highest unemployment since The Great Depression
  • Lowest approval rating of any president in modern history
  • Ended President Obama’s Bull Market

“Not to mention 110,000 deaths and America becoming the epicenter of a pandemic and the laughingstock of the world,” read the caption.

The page did not respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY.

Are these statements true? 

The $5.2 trillion in additional debt was reported by Newsweek on May 14. The report referenced data released by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, a nonpartisan fiscal watchdog firm that charts government spending. 

The national debt rose from more than $19.9 trillion from Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017, to more than $25.2 trillion in May, Newsweek reported. The Peterson Foundation cited a gross federal debt of $23.7 trillion at the end of March in a June 5 report. By June 9, gross federal debt surpassed $26 trillion, according to the foundation.

USA TODAY confirmed a total national debt over $19.9 trillion on inauguration day and $25.2 trillion on May 14 was recorded by the Treasury Department.

The total national debt is comprised of accumulated deficits — the difference in tax revenue and congressional spending — and off-budget surpluses. The sale of Treasury bills, notes, bonds and savings bonds to the public is also factored into the debt, according to the Treasury Department.

The Peterson Foundation attributed an accumulation of $1 trillion in gross federal debt in just a month to the coronavirus pandemic. In early March, policymakers passed $8.3 billion in emergency funding for public health agencies and vaccine research, the foundation reported.

Most of the national debt is owned by the public, according to The Wall Street Journal. Foreign countries, including China, Japan and the U.K., own nearly 30% of U.S. debt. The Federal Reserve owns almost 12%, which is mostly attributed to Treasury securities bought by the agency to stabilize interest rates during the 2008 financial crisis, the WSJ reported.

The statement that $5.2 trillion has been added to the debt is true.

Fox Business News reported that 10 of the Dow’s biggest single-day losses have occurred under the Trump administration. The Dow’s worst day since “Black Monday” in 1987 happened on March 16, when the Dow lost 2,997 points. Historical losses were also charted this year on March 5, 9 and 12; June 11; Feb. 24 and 27;  and in 2018 on Feb. 5 and 8, and Oct. 10,  according to Fox Business News. 

However, eight of the biggest point gains have also happened within the last two years, Fox Business News reported.

By percentage rather than point loss, none of the top 10 biggest losses occurred during the Trump administration, according to financial advisory news outlet InvestmentNews.

The unemployment rate fell to 13% in May from 14.4% in April, The Pew Research Center reported. But it is still up by 9.8 percentage points from February, according to a report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of unemployed people reached 15.2 million between April and May, a reflection of efforts to contain the COVID-19 epidemic, according to the BLS.

Prior to the epidemic, the United States experienced one of the lowest unemployment rates (3.8%) since the post-World War II era, Pew reported. The research firm also stated that unemployment during the “COVID-19 recession” is comparable to rates during the Great Depression of the 1930s, when the unemployment rate reached 25%.

It is true that the nation is at its highest unemployment since the Great Depression.

Presidents Harry S. Truman and George W. Bush had the lowest Gallup presidential job approval ratings of any president in the post-World War II era, Gallup reported in 2019. Truman’s historically low rating dropped to 22% in early 1952. Bush bested Truman by 3%; his lowest approval rating was 25% in late 2008, according to Gallup.

The most recent job approval rating recorded for Trump from May 24-June 8 is 39%, according to a report released by Gallup. It is lower than the average recorded for U.S. presidents from 1938-2020. At 32% and 37% respectively, Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush had lower job approval ratings than Trump in June of their fourth year in office, Gallup reported.

So it is false to say Trump has the lowest approval rating of any president in modern history.

In 2018, Business Insider called the ongoing bull market, which began a few months after Obama’s inauguration, “the longest ever.” March 6, 2009, marked the end of the stock market decline during the Great Recession of 2007. The S&P 500 gained about 306% since the March 2009 low, Business Insider reported. 

The Dow experienced an all-time closing high of 29,551 points this February, Forbes reported, but fell by 20.3% the following month, “officially ending the bull market,” according to Forbes.

Forbes’ Chuck Jones said the Dow and S&P 500 lost over half their gain under Trump. “The Dow entering Bear territory is the second fastest in history, after the one day decline in October 1987 of 23%,” Jones wrote.

Jones also reported that the Dow and S&P 500 both rose 28% since Trump’s election. However, with Obama, the Dow increased 35% from his election and 64% from the February 2009 low, and the S&P 500 rose 36% from his election and 103% from the low point in March 2009.

The bull market that began during Obama’s presidency did end while Trump was in office.

In May, Politico Magazine reported that usage of the term “epicenter” does not reflect the nature of a viral spread. 

“I think the problem with ‘epicenter’ is a connotation that there is a singular location that is seeding cases to the rest of the world,” Alison Galvani, a professor of epidemiology at Yale University, told Politico. 

“It is particularly problematic if it leads to a sense that control measures are only necessary at the ‘epicenter.’ The entire country should be exercising caution and limiting interaction as far as possible,” Galvani said.

Moreover, recent reports suggest that Latin America has claimed the “epicenter” mantle due to a shortage of tests and inadequate government response, CNN reported in May.

“This is the new epicenter,” Dr. Marcos Espinal, director of communicable diseases at the Pan American Health Organization, told CNN in May.

The BBC reported that, though they are fewer confirmed cases of COVID-19 cases in Latin America than the U.S. or Europe, testing for the disease is not as widespread and deaths from the disease may be underreported.

The U.S. has 2.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, more than any other country in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. Over 125,000 Americans have died of the disease; about 68,000 more than Brazil, the country with the second-highest death count.

We rate this claim PARTLY FALSE because some of it was not supported by our research. It is misleading to claim the 10 biggest Dow drops in history occurred during the Trump administration and that Trump has the lowest job approval rating of any president in modern history. However, the end of the bull market,  the highest unemployment since the Great Depression and an additional $5.2trillion in national debt occurred during Trump’s presidency. The United States also has the highest reported COVID-19 prevalence and mortality count in the world, to date.

  • Newsweek, “National Debt Has Increased $5.2 Trillion During Trump’s 3 Years as President”
  • Peter G. Peterson Foundation, “How Much is the National Debt? What are the Different Measures Used?”
  • Peter G. Peterson Foundation, “The National Debt is More Than $26 trillion. What Does That Mean?”
  • TreasuryDirect.gov, The Debt to the Penny and Who Holds It
  • TreasuryDirect.gov, Frequently Asked Questions about the Public Debt
  • Peter G. Peterson Foundation, “Here’s Everything Congress Has Done to Respond to the Coronavirus Epidemic So Far”
  • Wall Street Journal, “The National Debt, Visualized”
  • Fox Business News, The Dow’s biggest single-day gains and losses in history
  • Snopes, “Did the 8 Largest Single-Day Stock Drops Occur Under Trump?”
  • Wall Street Journal (archived), “Dow Jones Industrial Average, Historical Index Data”
  • InvestmentNews, “10 worst percentage losses ever for the Dow”
  • Pew Research Center, “Unemployment rose higher in three months of COVID-19 than it did in two years of the Great Recession”
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 5, 2020, news release
  • Gallup, “Who Had the Lowest Gallup Presidential Job Approval Rating?”
  • Gallup, “Presidential Approval Ratings — Donald Trump”
  • Business Insider, “Obama made one of history’s greatest stock market calls 10 years ago”
  • Forbes, “Trump’s Stock Market Returns Fall Behind Obama’s As The Dow Enters Bear Territory”
  • Politico Magazine, “Is ‘Epicenter’ the Wrong Word for New York?”
  • CNN, “The world’s new Covid-19 epicenter could be the worst yet”
  • BBC, “Coronavirus: What are the numbers out of Latin America?”
  • Johns Hopkins University, Center for Systems Science and Engineering, COVID-19 Dashboard

Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.

Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

Source: www.usatoday.com

Asian shares slide, following Wall St selloff on virus fears

Asian shares slide, following Wall St selloff on virus fears

BANGKOK (AP) – Shares fell Monday in Asia, tracking losses on Wall Street as rising virus cases cause some U.S. states to backtrack on pandemic reopenings.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index lost 1.3% in early trading. Shares also fell in Hong Kong, Sydney, Shanghai and South Korea. Investors have been banking on businesses continuing to reopen, helping to drive a recovery from the worst global downturn since the 1930s Great Depression.

But the S&P; 500 fell 2.4% Friday as Texas and Florida reversed course and clamped down on bars again in the nation’s biggest retreat yet. The new coronavirus has surged back in many places, especially the American South and West.

Concern has deepened as the number of confirmed cases topped 10 million, with more than 500,000 reported dead from COVID-19, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University that is believed to understate the problem due to issues with testing and a large number of asymptomatic cases.

The Nikkei 225 lost 297.39 points to 22,214.69 while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong dropped 0.9% to 24,327.28. The Kospi in Seoul fell 1.4% to 2,104.06 and Australia’s S&P;/ASX 200 gave up 1.6% to 5,809.50. The Shanghai Composite lost 0.6% to 2,962.02. Shares also fell in Taiwan and Singapore.

Even as virus outbreaks flare, economic data, which lag such daily measures of the pandemic, are signaling a recovery, albeit a fragile one.

“Conflicting signals between the Covid-19 spread and economic data continue to keep risk sentiment, and consequently markets, in a gridlock going into the end of June,” said Jingyi Pan of IG. “As far as the weekend leads are concerned, however, the topping of the 10 million mark for global COVID-19 cases had tipped the scale in the direction of risk-off for markets going into Monday.”

China reported that profits of major industrial companies rose 6% in May from a year earlier, to 582.3 billion yuan ($82.3 billion) as demand recovered and costs remained relatively low. That was up from a 4.3% drop in April.

China’s oil refiners and other heavy industries have profited from falling prices for crude and other commodities as global demand has waned amid the pandemic. But profits fell more than 19% in January-May, the National Bureau of Statistics reported.

Stocks on Wall Street skidded Friday as rising infections and reimposed new precautions to contain outbreaks injected fresh jitters into a market that has ridden high since April, for the most part, on hopes for a swift recovery.

The S&P; 500 fell 74.71 points to 3,009.05, though its still on pace for its best quarter since 1998. The Dow Jones Industrial Average had its worst day in two weeks, losing 2.8% to 25,015.55. The Nasdaq, which hit an all-time high earlier this week, dropped 2.6% to 9,757.22.

Financial companies were among the biggest decliners after the Federal Reserve ordered many of the nation’s biggest banks to suspend buybacks of their stock and cap dividend payments for several months.

The number of confirmed new coronavirus cases per day in the U.S. has blasted past 40,000, according to the Johns Hopkins tally, eclipsing the mark set during the deadliest stretch in late April. Deaths and hospitalizations have been rising in parts of the country, especially in the South and West.

The stock market is likely to remain volatile as traders weigh the ups and downs in the trajectory of the pandemic.

Reflecting caution over that outlook, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note dropped to 0.64% from 0.65%. The yield tends to move with investors’ expectations for the economy and inflation and had been above 0.7% for most of last week.

Concern that a pullback in the reopening of businesses could hamper demand for energy is pulling oil prices lower. Benchmark U.S. crude oil for August delivery lost 62 cents to $37.87 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 23 cents on Friday to settle at $38.49 a barrel.

Brent crude oil for August delivery slipped 58 cents to $40.35 per barrel.

In currency dealings, the dollar bought 107.17 Japanese yen, down from 107.20 yen on Friday. The euro was trading at $1.1245, up from $1.1221.

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.

Source: www.washingtontimes.com

Author: The Washington Times http://www.washingtontimes.com

Today in 2017: Rockets acquire Chris Paul in trade with Clippers

Today in 2017: Rockets acquire Chris Paul in trade with Clippers

It was three years ago today when the Houston Rockets acquired All-Star point guard Chris Paul from the Los Angeles Clippers.

The principles of the massive trade on June 28, 2017 sent Pat Beverley, Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, and Sam Dekker to the Clippers, along with a first-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Paul was set to enter free agency on July 1, but it would have been difficult for GM Daryl Morey to create the requisite space underneath the league’s salary cap to sign Paul to a max contract. Thus, Paul got creative by opting in to the final year of his previous contract to facilitate a deal.

Paul could have signed in free agency with a team that had cap space, such as San Antonio, and left the Clippers without compensation. The leverage of that scenario prompted Los Angeles to work with the Rockets, and three of the role players acquired in that deal (Beverley, Williams, Harrell) remain key contributors to the Clippers today. Clearly, it was a better outcome for them than letting Paul walk in free agency.

After Chris Paul agreed to opt-in on contract, Clippers are trading All-Star guard to the Houston Rockets, league sources tell @TheVertical

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 28, 2017

As for the Rockets, here’s what Morey said on the day of the trade:

It’s a weapons race in the NBA and you’re either in the weapons race or on the sidelines. We felt like with James Harden in his prime and Chris Paul in his prime this gives us a real shot to chase the juggernaut teams that are out there. This puts us right there with them. …

Now that we have James and Chris I think people are going to look in free agency and say: `Hey, I can make this money there, but maybe for close to the money but not quite as much, I’m going to come to Houston and try to win a ring.’ So that’s a big difference walking in with that kind of a situation.

Less than a week later, the Rockets signed veteran defensive ace P.J. Tucker, who grew up as a close friend of Paul.

From there, the ensuing 2017-18 season was the most dominant in franchise history. The Rockets (65-17) had their best-ever record, with no other team in the league even reaching 60 wins that season.

Then 32 years old, Paul averaged 18.6 points (46.0% FG, 38.0% on 3-pointers) and 7.9 assists per game as Harden’s sidekick, and the chemistry and on-court fit of the two superstar guards was tremendous.

They won their first two playoff series by 4-1 margins, and took a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference Finals over defending NBA champion Golden State… only to lose Paul in the final minute of Game 5 to a hamstring pull. Without Paul, the Warriors rallied to win that series and another title.

The Rockets re-signed Paul that offseason, but he was never the same player in 2018-19 due to an apparent combination of injuries and age. In July 2019, the Rockets used Paul’s salary slot (along with future draft considerations) to acquire Russell Westbrook from Oklahoma City.

In the end, it was only a two-year run for Paul in Houston, and it didn’t end with the championship that all sides were hopeful of when the partnership began in June 2017. Even so, the trade remains a clear success and one of the most important days in recent Rockets history.

Source: rocketswire.usatoday.com

Author: Ben DuBose

49ers shouldn't trade Dante Pettis just yet

49ers shouldn’t trade Dante Pettis just yet

The 2019 season couldn’t have gone much worse for Dante Pettis. He entered the offseason as the team’s presumed No. 1 receiver, and he finished the year as a healthy scratch in the Super Bowl. His time in San Francisco hasn’t quite run its course though, which is why a proposed trade involving Pettis by ESPN’s Field Yates doesn’t make a ton of sense.

Yates wrote a piece detailing five ‘win-win’ trades around the NFL. One of his proposals involved the 49ers sending Pettis, a 2018 second-round pick, to the Texans in exchange for wide receiver Keke Coutee, a 2018 fourth-round pick.

While neither player has been particularly stellar over two years in the league, a direct swap seems unlikely for a 49ers team that traded up to select Pettis in the 2018 draft. Giving up on him after his second season, when he produced as a rookie, feels premature.

Pettis came on late in his rookie season to finish with 27 catches for 467 yards and five touchdown receptions. He was good enough to earn the inside track for the No. 1 wide receiver job heading into camp in 2019. He disappointed in training camp, and struggled for his entire second season — notching only 109 yards and two touchdowns on 11 receptions. Pettis took nine snaps between Weeks 11 and 12, and didn’t play again the rest of the year.

While his second season was discouraging, the 49ers are more likely to give Pettis another chance to succeed than replace him with an another disappointing prospect. Coutee has played only 15 games in two seasons, with 50 catches, 541 yards and only one touchdown.  There aren’t a lot of reasons to believe Coutee would be a more productive player for the 49ers than Pettis, and Pettis’ peak in the NFL was better than Coutee’s, even if Coutee was more consistent with his production.

The more likely scenario for Pettis is the 49ers afford him every chance to climb back to the form he had during a five-week stretch at the end of his rookie season when he had 20 catches for 359 yards and four touchdowns. With Deebo Samuel nursing a broken foot and Richie James Jr. dealing with a broken wrist, Pettis will get plenty of reps outside and in the slot to carve out a more significant role in the 49ers’ receiving corps.

If he doesn’t answer the call this preseason, however, it’s hard to believe the 49ers keep him on the roster. At that point a trade becomes much more conceivable as San Francisco aims to thin out its receiving corps. Until then though, he’ll get a legitimate shot to make the team and have a role in the offense in 2020.

Source: ninerswire.usatoday.com

Author: Kyle Madson

Global Virtual Power Plant (VPP) Market Report 2020: Historic and Forecast Analysis Over the Period 2012-2027 - ResearchAndMarkets.com

Global Virtual Power Plant (VPP) Market Report 2020: Historic and Forecast Analysis Over the Period 2012-2027 – ResearchAndMarkets.com

The “Virtual Power Plant – Global Market Trajectory & Analytics” report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com’s offering.

Amid the COVID-19 crisis and the looming economic recession, the Virtual Power Plant market worldwide will grow by a projected US$1.8 Billion, during the analysis period, driven by a revised compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31.6%.

The global analysis and forecast periods covered are 2020-2027 (current & future analysis) and 2012-2019 (historic review). Research estimates are provided for 2020, while research projections cover the period 2021-2027.

Demand Response, one of the segments analyzed and sized in this study, is forecast to grow at over 32.6% and reach a market size of US$1.4 Billion by the end of the analysis period. An unusual period in history, the coronavirus pandemic has unleashed a series of unprecedented events affecting every industry. The Demand Response market will be reset to a new normal which going forwards in a post COVID-19 era will be continuously redefined and redesigned. Staying on top of trends and accurate analysis is paramount now more than ever to manage uncertainty, change and continuously adapt to new and evolving market conditions.

As part of the new emerging geographic scenario, the United States is forecast to readjust to a 29.8% CAGR. Within Europe, Germany will add over US$52 Million to the region’s size over the next 7 to 8 years. In addition, over US$82 Million worth of projected demand in the region will come from Rest of European markets. In Japan, the Demand Response segment will reach a market size of US$62.4 Million by the close of the analysis period.

Blamed for the pandemic, significant political and economic challenges confront China. Amid the growing push for decoupling and economic distancing, the changing relationship between China and the rest of the world will influence competition and opportunities in the Virtual Power Plant market. Against this backdrop and the changing geopolitical, business and consumer sentiments, the world’s second largest economy will grow at 27.5% over the next couple of years and add approximately US$196.8 Million in terms of addressable market opportunity.

Continuous monitoring for emerging signs of a possible new world order post-COVID-19 crisis is a must for aspiring businesses and their astute leaders seeking to find success in the now changing Virtual Power Plant market landscape. All research viewpoints presented are based on validated engagements from influencers in the market, whose opinions supersede all other research methodologies.

Competitors identified in this market include, among others:

  • ABB Group
  • Autogrid Systems, Inc.
  • Blue Pillar, Inc.
  • Cisco Systems, Inc.
  • Cpower
  • Enbala Power Networks, Inc.
  • EnerNOC, Inc.
  • Flexitricity Limited
  • General Electric Company
  • Hitachi Ltd.
  • IBM Corporation
  • Limejump Ltd.
  • Next Kraftwerke GmbH
  • Open Access Technology International, Inc. (OATI)
  • Osisoft, LLC
  • Power Analytics Corporation
  • Robert Bosch GmbH
  • Schneider Electric SA
  • Siemens AG
  • Sunverge Energy, Inc.
  • Toshiba Corporation
  • Upside Energy, Ltd.

Key Topics Covered




  • Global Competitor Market Shares
  • Virtual Power Plant Competitor Market Share Scenario Worldwide (in %): 2019 & 2025
  • Impact of COVID-19 and a Looming Global Recession






  • Total Companies Profiled: 46

For more information about this report visit https://www.researchandmarkets.com/r/gkwofr

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200629005310/en/


Do probiotics actually do anything?

There is an invisible universe hidden inside your body, it’s called the gut microbiome — a vast array of trillions of intestinal bacteria, hundreds of different species. They help digest your food in exchange for a warm, safe place to live. And we are only now starting to discover the gut microbiome plays a much larger role in our lives than we ever imagined.

Some of those bacteria found inside us are replicated in commercially manufactured mixtures called “probiotics.” You see them on grocery and pharmacy shelves, and they’re recommended by your friends and often, by doctors like me.

But do probiotics actually do anything?  To find out, first you need to know about the gut microbiome.

Dr. Jeff Gordon: This is a snapshot of the microbiome.

Dr. Jon LaPook: And then this is the trillions of bacteria there. They’re represented by the different colors.

Dr. Jeff Gordon at Washington University in St. Louis is recognized as “the father of the microbiome.” He has spent decades exploring the mysteries of the bacterial community in our gut.

Dr. Jeff Gordon: It’s a collection of microbes that are able to coexist with us in ways that still are unclear.

Dr. Jon LaPook: Why are they there in the first place?

Dr. Jeff Gordon: They help process the food that we consume, but they do a lot more than that. They make Vitamins. We think about vitamins as only being in food. they’re able to produce essential amino acids, they’re able to talk to our immune system and help educate the immune system.

Dr. Jon LaPook: That’s different than I think the way a lotta people think about the intestinal track. It’s sorta like a tube, and the food comes in and it goes out, and that’s it. But you’re saying there’s much more of an interaction?

Dr. Jeff Gordon: We’re coming to understand that much more clearly. and this capacity to process– the food that we consume is linked to our health as well as our disease states.

Research suggests a healthy microbiome may reduce the risk of diseases like cancer and diabetes. And in a landmark experiment, Dr. Gordon and his team made a lean mouse fatter by giving it the bacteria of a fat mouse.

Dr. Jon LaPook: Are you saying that part of the cause of obesity might be the types of bacteria that are in the gut, in the microbiome?

Dr. Jeff Gordon: I am saying that. And we see that individuals who are obese have a less diverse microbial community compared to individuals who are lean.

Dr. Jon LaPook: Is there evidence that you could take the microbiome that’s associated with a lean person, transfer it to somebody who’s overweight, and it might somehow help them to become thinner?

Dr. Jeff Gordon: There’s a lot of work– going on right now, trying to test that hypothesis.

Right now, the microbiome is an area of hot research. Doctors are already treating illness by manipulating gut bacteria. A potentially life-threatening infection of the colon called C. Diff. has been successfully treated by moving bacteria from the gut of a healthy person to the gut of somebody who’s sick. 

And millions of people are trying to improve their microbiomes themselves using probiotics, so-called “good bacteria.” But here’s the problem: there’s a lot of conflict among scientists about whether probiotics provide any benefit at all.

Dr. Patricia Hibberd: Over the years there have been so many studies of various probiotics saying “it’s good for this.” The next study says, “it’s not good for this.” And truly, it’s chaos.

Dr. Patricia Hibberd is an infectious disease specialist and a professor of medicine at boston university.

Dr. Hibberd has reviewed hundreds of studies in the medical literature about probiotics. She has also done her own studies and told us there’s not enough high quality research to recommend off-the-shelf probiotics for the medical problems for which they’re commonly used. 

Dr. Patricia Hibberd: The whole idea that maybe throwing in good bacteria that we would take by mouth that hopefully would land in the right places in the GI tract and work with the immune system. We just don’t know how to do any of that. 

Dr. Jon LaPook: But right now, there is a multi-billion dollar industry that’s growing. 

Dr. Patricia Hibberd: Yes.

Dr. Jon LaPook: And people are out there buying this stuff.

Dr. Patricia Hibberd: Right.

Dr. Jon LaPook: So, is there convincing evidence that commercially available probiotics have been found to be beneficial for reducing diarrhea from antibiotics?

Dr. Patricia Hibberd: No.

Dr. Jon LaPook: Treating irritable bowel syndrome?

Dr. Patricia Hibberd: No.

Dr. Jon LaPook: Decreasing allergies?

Dr. Patricia Hibberd: No.

But probiotics are suggested as a remedy for all those things… and more.

ALIGN COMMERCIAL: Your digestive system has billions of bacteria. But life can throw them off balance.

Restoring that balance of bacteria in the gut microbiome is just one goal touted by makers of probiotics, a $50 billion global industry sold to us in capsules, popsicles, cereal, tea and some yogurt. And we’re told probiotics can even help your dog.

Many physicians and patients believe probiotics are worth trying, and many believe they work.

One of those physicians is Dr. Dan Merenstein. He’s a professor of family medicine at Georgetown University. And he’s on the board of a non-profit, industry-financed group that promotes probiotic science.

Dr. Merenstein is doing a clinical trial backed by the National Institutes of Health testing a probiotic cocktail. He’s trying to see if it can prevent diarrhea in children taking antibiotics, a remedy other researchers have tried with mixed results.

Dr. Dan Merenstein: I think the data is there. I recommend probiotics mainly for people who are on antibiotics and for people with irritable bowel disease.

Dr. Jon LaPook: I wonder what our viewers are thinking right now, right? They’re hearing you saying, it definitely helps, probiotics and others are saying, there’s no good evidence that it helps. Are they throwing a brick through the television screen just about now?

Dr. Dan Merenstein: …they are but they have been throwing a brick, you know, for the last 20 years when we tell them everyone needs Vitamin D, and everyone needs, you know, Echinacea for colds, or zinc for colds. I think it’s difficult to be a consumer because things change so quickly. But I think we need more probiotic research.

One cause of confusion may be the placebo effect: some people using probiotics may feel better because they expect to feel better. And figuring out what probiotics do inside the gut is complicated. One reason is that each person’s microbiome is unique, so the same probiotic may have different effects on different people. That’s exactly what professors Eran Elinav and Eran Segal found at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science.

Eran Elinav: We wanted to directly assess what the probiotics were doing and how they interact with what’s already inside in our gut.

The researchers collected thousands of samples from a small group of adult volunteers who were given probiotics.

Eran Segal: We’ve actually looked across the entire gastrointestinal tract at places where nobody has looked before.

The volunteers all underwent multiple endoscopies and colonoscopies.

Dr. Jon LaPook: So you’re going down the swallowing tube, into the stomach, and into the first part of the small intestine. And then colonoscopy, you’re coming from below.

Eran Elinav: Exactly. And then we gave some of these volunteers a very large combination of probiotics that are out there in your supermarket. And half of the individuals were given what we call placebo, which is an empty pill.

Eran Segal:  so the results were actually very striking so what we’re seeing is that half the people take the probiotics and the probiotics, as they go in, they just go out and they don’t populate the gut.

Dr. Jon LaPook: Was that surprising to you?

Eran Elinav: That was highly surprising to us, most of us or all of us, are under the assumption– these probiotics would settle in at least temporarily in our gut, and would do the good things that we expect them to do.

The researchers also studied a treatment commonly recommended by doctors, giving probiotics to help restore the balance of gut bacteria wiped out by antibiotics.

Eran Segal: We found that the probiotics actually delayed the restoration of the bacteria of those individuals to what they had before as compared to individuals who took antibiotics and then did nothing.

Dr. Jon LaPook: So here a lot of us have been taking probiotics with antibiotics because we think maybe that’ll help us get back to normal more quickly. And this is showing the opposite.

Eran Segal: Exactly.

Eran Elinav: Exactly.

Elinav and Segal’s findings contradict much of the conventional wisdom about probiotics. Other scientists are now building on their work.

Eran Segal: To be clear we’re not against the concept of probiotics in general. We actually think that probiotics may have huge benefits.

Eran Elinav: But, we need to be very cautious in generally prescribing these microbes without knowing enough of what they do.

But we were surprised to learn that probiotics are added to some baby food and even infant formula. About a fifth of the top selling infant formula in the United States contains probiotics. And the market is growing. 

Dr. Frank Greer: Most parents don’t realize– how little work there is to support the use of probiotic in infants.

Dr. Jon LaPook: And yet, it’s being used.

Dr. Frank Greer: It’s being used.

Dr. Frank Greer is professor emeritus of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin. He is co-author of the American Academy of Pediatrics clinical report on probiotics. 

Dr. Jon LaPook: So when you add probiotics to infant formula at this early stage, what could happen?

Dr. Frank Greer: I wish I could answer that question, but I think part of the answer to that is we don’t really know how probiotics work.

Dr. Jon LaPook: So if we don’t know how they work and we’re not sure what they do, why are we adding them to infant formula?

Dr. Frank Greer: That’s a great question. Why are we giving ’em to infants.

Dr. Jon LaPook: Is there any convincing evidence that adding probiotics to infant formula is good for the baby?

Dr. Frank Greer: My answer to that would be no.

That answer was unexpected coming from Dr. Greer. You see, a baby formula trade group — the Infant Nutrition Council of America — recommended him to explain their point of view. 

Dr. Jon LaPook: So then why are we seeing it in so many different products?

Dr. Frank Greer: Well, it’s easy to put in there, because it’s not very tightly regulated.

The Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, does not classify probiotic capsules as drugs. That means they do not have to be proven “safe and effective.” When added to anything, including infant formula, probiotics only need to meet a lower standard: “generally recognized as safe.” 

In rare cases, probiotics have been linked to severe infections in critically ill patients and those with weakened immune systems. Otherwise, they appear to be safe

Dr. Jon LaPook: If you could give probiotics early in life and potentially help, couldn’t those same probiotics down the line have unintended consequences and hurt? 

 Dr. Frank Greer: It’s possible, but I can’t attest that there’s any harm whatsoever down the line. There’s– there’s no evidence that says they’re harmful.

Dr. Jon LaPook: But are there long-term studies?

 Dr. Frank Greer: No, there are no long-term (LAUGH) studies

Without those studies, there’s no way of knowing if giving probiotics to infants has unintended long-term consequences. The infant formula trade group, which recommended we interview Dr. Greer, sent us this statement: “In formula-fed babies, probiotics promote a balance of bacteria in a baby’s gut” and “simulate the benefits provided by breast milk.”

Dr. Frank Greer: Well, I think that ultimately formula industry’s goal–

Dr. Jon LaPook: It’s their goal, but is–

Dr. Frank Greer: That’s their goal.

Dr. Jon LaPook: Is that’s what’s happening–

Dr. Frank Greer: This doesn’t do it. You know? Putting a single probiotic organism in an infant formula doesn’t promote the balance they’re talking about.

Despite disagreement about how or whether today’s probiotics work, every scientist we spoke with was hopeful about the possibility of improving health by manipulating the microbiome. Last year, Dr. Gordon’s team reported that a special supplemental mixture of nutrients containing chickpeas, soy, bananas and peanuts can repair the damaged microbiome of malnourished infants.

Dr. Jeff Gordon: Think about this. The idea that a defective development of a microbiome could impair the development of bones, of the immune system, perhaps even the central nervous system. How incredibly extraordinary that our collection of microbes is so impactful? That’s inspirational. But the task ahead is complex. We want to be able to develop interventions that are safe in the short term and in the long term. And we wanna make sure that we have it right.

Produced by Julie Holstein and Howard L. Rosenberg. Associate producer, Deborah Rubin. Broadcast associate, Jacqueline Kalil. Edited by Joe Schanzer.

Source: www.cbsnews.com

Author: Jonathan LaPook

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