semiotic_pirate: (speak your mind)
Today was the big day of reading through all the warnings and possibilities about my coming surgery - laparoscopically assisted vaginal hysterectomy aka LAVH. Warning: the link has a series of black and white drawn diagrams showing the procedure, step by step. It is very interesting, but may trigger squeamish feelings in some.

I got a bit of a surprise, though. I had expected to pay the surgeon's fee upfront at the appointment; however, I hadn't received any bills for my prior visits leading up to this appointment. They hadn't issued a bill, but they did have my "outstanding balance" listed in their system. Yeaaaaahhh. So, instead of the $2,300 I expected, it was over $3,000. Eeek!


At work - although I confronted my manager with the industry's going rate for my position and what I think I'm worth ($20K more than what I'm currently paid) they only tacked on $700 to the raise they'd originally offered last week. So. I'm officially and earnestly looking for a new job. I've asked for years to go out with the loan officers on site visits and going to Lender Meetings, etc. Only got to my first one this past fall, and only b/c it was acting as a site visit for the whole department: "Since we're going anyway, I guess we can take you to the lender meeting the day before." I've been given signs that there really isn't any upward movement possible, and that I'd have to chase after and find any kind of continuing education/training for myself (and then convince someone it's worth paying for.)

At this point, I'm thinking of taking the entire four weeks leave (UNPAID LEAVE AT THAT) as proper leave and not trying to work from home the latter three weeks. Let them realize the amount of work that I was doing while I was there by not being there to do it. The only problem with that is that I then shove the brunt of dealing with that workload to my coworkers. A matter of balancing the potential of said coworkers "blaming" me for taking recovery time and me teaching management the lesson of my value.

I'm open to any suggestions all of you may have in this matter.
semiotic_pirate: (boat on land)
I was unhappily surprised yesterday by the discovery of yet another chemical allergy - something that, upon contact with my skin, will make me break out in the most unholy itchy raised bumps. I wonder if its the same thing that's included in most commercial sunscreens.


Let us tally the various known list of things that my body refuses to either come into contact with or allow me to digest/consume safely.

1. Gluten
2. Casein
3. unnamed chemical one
4. unnamed/unknown chemical two
5. unknown chemical three

Once I figured out the first two, and eliminated them from my diet and the products I use (lipstick, shampoo, lotion, etc.) I felt much better. As a matter of fact, when I got rid of the second item (recently) I started getting completely out of the feeling of occasional foggy brain, etc.

Since my last physical I have almost completely eliminated my use of analgesics. Huzzah!

The unknown chemicals are the worst, because the products potentially containing these chemicals aren't required to list their ingredients.

I still am of the opinion that the food allergies related to proteins was probably triggered by a five year period where I was drinking city tap water that was heavily laced with chlorine.

Wastewater Treatment Process

immediately followed by

Drinking Water Treatment Process

Apparently, the apartment I was living in at the time was located relatively close to either of the treatment facilities (at least that was the reasoning that people I talked to then were using) and that was the cause of such high chlorine levels. Maybe the two facilities (pictured above) were back to back and the "effluent" from the waste treatment facility literally poured into the drinking water treatment facility. Look, none of the facilities were so close that I can recall either seeing or smelling them from where I lived, but this was just a supposition that people had. And maybe our treatment facilities over-treated with chlorine at the disinfection stages. Who knows?

BTW: Anyone else notice the overlapping and recurrent use of chlorine in the process? The water I was drinking all through that time period pretty much smelled like pool water when it first came out of the faucet; and there is only so much off-gassing that will occur when you leave jugs of water uncapped on the counter for 48 hours before consumption/refrigeration.

Before anyone can pipe up with "you could've drank bottled water" - those were the "destitute student years" and I couldn't even spare the petrol to go a couple of towns over to fill up drinking containers from the local/free spring water spout. In addition, I know for a fact that my area doesn't have any of the fancy, more expensive technologies in place like reverse osmosis filtering that removes the chlorine before the water is put into the outgoing pipes. Nor are we an area that is serves by rainfall fed reservoirs.

Chlorine denatures proteins - and the molecules can bond into stuff and make it more poisonous as well as doing other free-radical-like damage at the cellular level. Maybe, just maybe, it can trigger stuff that people are genetically disposed to by creating certain conditions when bodily homeostasis is disturbed by its presence. I remember chlorine having a lot of deleterious effects in my organic chemistry and biological science classes.

Right now, I am just glad that my primary source of drinking water is from my own well. And I am thankful that I am no longer a destitute student; that I can afford the kinds of food that I need to eat to sustain my life. Melodramatic much? Really, on the food front, I am pulling myself out of the bear pit trap that most people find themselves in when they first discover they need to go GFCF: eating all the fatty stuff without realizing it is fatty, those Glutino pretzels for instance (combined with much too many scoops of hummus. Too many eggs as a protein source (I was hooked on the convenience of eating about 3/4 of the Protein Bistro Box at Starbucks for a while: HB egg, red grapes, apple slices and PB). Not enough veg. The list goes on, really.

I am learning though. The whole "required lifestyle change" situation can be taxing for any individual - and I am experiencing the typical amount of the agita.

Well, that's enough blathering. I have some mango mahi mahi to put in the skillet and sauté and some random veg to prepare to go with.

LLAP LJ People!
semiotic_pirate: (Default)
So a few things of import have occurred lately.

1. Tornado. I joked on twitter that sending one my way was nature's way of getting me to clean out the catbox in the cellar. Myah. Not the closest call I've had but close enough. The new hi-def NOAA app came in MIGHTY handy, let me tell you.

2. Now that I know I am both Gluten Intolerant (possibly Celiac but I won't go back on the gluten long enough for a test & biopsy to come back positive) and either lactose intolerant or full on dairy intolerant... I fin it amusing that the majority of my portfolio at wor is made up of - have you guessed yet? That's right, grain marketing cooperatives and dairy processors. Bound to make me more objective about the analysis? Maybe.

When the idea that I may never enjoy cheese or any other dairy goodness... it made me very sad, much more so than when I had to give up the gluten. Maybe because I didn't have to give up ALL grains.

Still adjusting my lifestyle. It was really hard to accept the dairy prohibition, but I think I've gotten all the way to acceptance. It was interesting that it was easier to isolate and identify my dairy reactions once the gluten was completely eliminated from my diet.

Live and learn.

I tweeted an epidemiologist that sometimes writes articles for Wired Magazine. I asked her if it was possible for a heavily chlorinated public water supply to cause or trigger gluten or dairy (casein protien based) intolerance - because the chlorine would continually bombard the intestinal flora, etc. Who knows... maybe that's one of the reasons why we are seeing a surge in gluten spectrum intolerance.

Final words: Go to Youtube and search for "Obama that I used to know" then watch "Star Wars that I used to know" then "Darth Vader falls in love" - you won't regret it.
semiotic_pirate: (Juicy Oranges)
Before the posty goodness begins, I will type a little about the "torture" I just put myself through. Enjoyable torture though. Finally got back to my personal training - got assigned a new trainer - and it went brilliantly. Excellent workout, just what I wanted, etc. Pushed me into muscle failure in a good way. Enough positive reinforcement to keep me motivated but not giving me any slack when I didn't need it, challenging me here and there when I was doing really good at something. I left feeling like a big bowl of quivering jelly and happily satisfied.


Work it stem cells, work it!

Wait, wait… Senator-elect Franken? Al Franken? Neat! Let the recount begin so he can get on with his job! (CoB, want to move to Minnesota?)

Using humor as a tool in psychiatry. It is helpful for the patient and the caregiver. Who could've imagined that humor, laughter, could affect the humours?

Plastic water bottles and the linings of soft drink and food cans… BPA may interfere with chemotherapy. Interesting, that BPA is being found to act on cancer cells similar to the way estrogen does - by inducing proteins that protect the cells from chemotherapy agents.

“It’s actually acting by protecting existing cancer cells from dying in response to anti-cancer drugs, making chemotherapy significantly less effective,” said Nira Ben-Jonathan, a professor of cancer and cell biology who has studied BPA for more than 10 years.

Warning labels containing caffeine content are being considered for "energy" drinks. Some of which have the equivalent of 15 cans of soda. The American Beverage Association is opposed… of course. This, while another study links these "energy" drinks to increased riskiness in teen behavior. Like teens need another boost on top of their hormonal fluxes to induce risky behaviors.

In other news, a fan in a baby's room can lower the risk of SIDS.

Limited data is touting the effects of a new, unusual bandaging tape called Kinesio tape. Comes in a wide range of colors. Company website here.

What the heck is a Petaflop? Breaking barriers in supercomputing.

Tongue-in-cheek notice delivered upon the release of the Monty Python YouTube Channel as reported here.

"For three years you YouTubers have been ripping us off, taking tens of thousands of our videos and putting them on YouTube," the tongue-in-cheek notice rants. "We know who you are, we know where you live and we could come after you in ways too horrible to tell. But being the extraordinarily nice chaps we are, we've figured a better way to get our own back."


Brilliant stuff concerning Doctor Who (before the Tardis) from the BBC. Newly released documents, which reveal the 1960s conception of Doctor Who, show how nervous the BBC was about producing a sci-fi show.

Alternatives to the Tardis were discussed…

The Doctor without his time-travelling police box is difficult to imagine, but its creators initially proposed he journey through space in an invisible machine covered in light-resistant paint.

When BBC producers were devising the show in the early 1960s, they thought viewers should see no machine at all, only "a shape of nothingness".

The BBC's head of drama Sydney Newman, who commissioned the first series, insisted an invisible machine would not work and the doctor's vehicle should be a strong visual symbol.

Wisely, writers also said a transparent, plastic bubble would be "lowgrade". But a seed of the Tardis idea is sown when they suggest using "some common object in the street" like a night-watchman's shelter.

These discussions are revealed in six previously unpublished documents, now digitised on the BBC Archive website.

...A plot written for the original Doctor but rejected, called Troubleshooters, can be seen in Torchwood.
semiotic_pirate: (ExhibitA)
I've decided to take the link I've found on at least two people's blogs and copy/paste the article because the site it links to demands you register before being allowed content viewing. That and the fact that the loading for that page is super slow, even for my extremely fast internet connection. I find it interesting that they key to this was to be found in something that is a byproduct of people with lupus.

Houston doctors say they may have found a way to destroy HIV

01:20 AM CDT on Wednesday, July 30, 2008


HOUSTON -- There is real hope that what’s happening in a Houston lab might lead to a cure for HIV.

“We have found an innovative way to kill the virus by finding this small region of HIV that is unchangeable,” Dr. Sudhir Paul of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston said.

Dr. Paul and Dr. Miguel Escobar aren’t talking about just suppressing HIV – they’re talking about destroying it permanently by arming the immune system with a new weapon lab tests have shown to be effective.

Ford Stuart has been HIV positive for 15 years. He’s on a powerful drug cocktail that keeps the disease in check.

“I’m on four different medications. Three of them are brand new, and it’s the first time that I’ve ever been non-detectible,” Stuart said. “I’m down to about – just for the HIV – about nine pills per day, five in the morning and four at night.”

But Stuart knows HIV mutates, and eventually it will learn how to outsmart his medications.

“The virus is truly complex and has many tricks up its sleeve,” Paul said.

But Dr. Paul thinks he’s cracked a code.

“We’ve discovered the weak spot of HIV,” he said.

Paul and his team have zeroed in on a section of a key protein in HIV’s structure that does not mutate.

“The virus needs at least one constant region, and that is the essence of calling it the Achilles heel,” Paul said.

That Achilles heel is the doctors’ way in. They take advantage of it with something called an abzyme.

It’s naturally produced by people, like lupus patients. When they applied that abzyme to the HIV virus, it permanently disarmed it.

“What we already have in our hand are the abzymes that we could be infusing into the human subjects with HIV infection, essentially to move the virus,” Paul said.

Basically, their idea could be used to control the disease for people who already have it and prevent infection for those at risk.

The theory has held up in lab and animal testing. The next step is human trials.

Meanwhile, every day in Houston, three people are diagnosed with HIV.

The doctors still need funding to launch human trials. In the world of HIV research, that’s often where things fall apart.

“Clinical trials are very expensive,” Paul said.

“That is the worry of the researcher. This is what nightmares are made of – that after 30 years of work, you find it doesn’t work,” Paul said.

But so far, it is working.

“This is the holy grail of HIV research, to develop a preventative vaccine,” Paul said.

“If we can get the viral loads down to a manageable level, that will preclude the need for these conventional drugs,” Escobar said.

Still, even if everything goes well, it’s at least five years before the research could help people with HIV.

The doctors know people like Ford Stuart are waiting.

“There are so many people struggling with the disease because it affects not only your body, but also your psyche, how you perceive yourself,” he said.

If nothing else, the research is promising for the tens of millions waiting for a cure.
semiotic_pirate: (Lion in Winter - Peel U Like a Pear)
People have been arguing for years now whether medication induced hypomania or mania is actually a case of triggered bipolar disease. Medications that can induce various levels of mania would make a very long list indeed. Many are anti-depressants of many stripes, also known inducers are steroids like prednisone, thyroid medications and medications that are taken for Lyme disease, TB and HIV/AIDS. In other words, a lot of shit can induce various levels of mania.

Did a little research into the general take on this topic and discovered that all the people that are quoting subthreshold BP as a problem are MISQUOTING a study that came out and was then retracted... because there was no scientific evidence that subthreshold BP exists or that if it does, that is needs to be treated with medications like BPI and BPII.

Here's my recommended reading list (mostly written in 2007 when this storm was reaching maximum surge levels on the shores of the WWW): Furious Season's take , the report from PsychCentral and first one post then a follow up post on Clinical Psych Blogspot.

And as Clin Psych asked: "Preparation of [the] article was supported by AstraZeneca.” As my astute readers know, AstraZeneca makes Seroquel, which is one of the “appropriate” treatments in this study. How does a company support the preparation of an article?" Again, this is the article that retracted and redacted itself after everyone had latched onto the original version.
semiotic_pirate: (eyeball)
Light therapy 'can slow dementia'

Dementia could be slowed significantly by treatments which reset the body's natural clock, researchers have said.

The Dutch team used brighter daytime lighting - with or without the drug melatonin - to improve patients' sleep, mood and cut aggressive behaviour.

It concludes that these can slow deterioration by 5% - which a UK specialist said meant patients living in their own homes for months longer.
Read more... )

Painkiller may cut dementia risk

Long-term use of ibuprofen may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, a large US study reports.

Data from almost 250,000 veterans showed those who used the painkiller for more than five years were more than 40% less likely to develop Alzheimer's.

The study in Neurology reported that some other similar painkillers may also have a protective effect.

Dementia experts said the results were interesting but warned against people taking ibuprofen to reduce their risk.
Read more... )

Yeah. Okay. Who specifically funded this second study? Just wanting to know if there is any conflict of interest that would tip the data in favor of a particular sponsor... And yes, veterans are being used as test subjects... are they aware of this? Interesting indeed.

And, for those of you who were getting used to my poetry posting... If any of you were enjoying that, please SPEAK UP and I will put in a reminder on my calendar to ping me daily to make one of those posts. Things have been fun but a little hectic (in a good way) at the new job. Enthusiasm has side effects of making less time for other things.


Oct. 3rd, 2007 10:12 am
semiotic_pirate: (it's over)
A Pill To Forget?
June 17, 2007(CBS) This segment was originally broadcast on Nov. 26, 2006. It was updated on June 14, 2007.

If there were something you could take after experiencing a painful or traumatic event that would permanently weaken your memory of what had just happened, would you take it? As correspondent Lesley Stahl first reported last fall, it’s an idea that may not be so far off, and that has some critics alarmed, and some trauma victims filled with hope.
Read more... )
And now the U.S. military has taken note. Dr. Pitman will be receiving Army funding later this summer to try the same propranolol experiment done with Rita and Louise to treat American soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. He cautions that the studies are still in the experimental stage and not yet ready for general use.

This reminds me of SOMA from A Brave New World, as well as many other fiction novels. On one hand, there are plenty of traumas out there that could be lessened, the trauma's effect on a person. But, what if it made you not care if you just killed someone? It isn't the intention of use, it is the possible uses that worry me - as it does the ethicists mentioned in the article. If it is used as originally intended, to decrease the level of trauma experienced by a victim, then it is all for the good... but that is never the case. It will end up being abused by the operators of the Panopticon (as CoB likes to call it) to make it easier for people to do their "jobs" when said jobs would normally be seen as inhuman. Isn't that how most inventions end up being used?

Am I out there on the edge? Discuss.
semiotic_pirate: (LeChatNoir)
Back in 2000, I wrote a research paper for my Biology Class on stem cells, focusing on the potential of embryonic stem cells. It was fascinating at the time and I try to keep track of what's going on in the field. The other day I read about how stem cell treatments are now being used by veterinarians on dogs and horses. Who knew that when Bush was approaching the end of his second term he'd do this? Completely alienating his core supporters. Huh. Wonder if someone he cares about got sick with something that only esc treatment can cure...

Bush OKs Stem Cell Funding
Kristen Philipkoski Email 08.09.01 | 1:40 PM

President Bush will allow the government, with certain restrictions, to fund embryonic stem cell research, a decision that could help scientists find cures to several ailments, but could cost the President votes among conservatives.
Read more... )
semiotic_pirate: (OH NOZ!)
September 5, 2007
Doctor Links a Man’s Illness to a Microwave Popcorn Habit

A fondness for microwave buttered popcorn may have led a 53-year-old Colorado man to develop a serious lung condition that until now has been found only in people working in popcorn plants.

Lung specialists and even a top industry official say the case, the first of its kind, raises serious concerns about the safety of microwave butter-flavored popcorn.
Read more... )

The most important thing for you lovers of microwave popcorn... No matter how much you love the smell... Do NOT inhale the buttery fragrance as you pop open your bag of freshly popped popcorn goodness.

Interesting how they added on that he lost 50 pounds after discontinuing his popcorn habit.

One. I cannot believe they've known about this, through its effect on factory workers, and done nothing.
Two. I cannot believe said factory workers haven't banded together for a class action lawsuit.
semiotic_pirate: (Default)
something I just found out about yesterday. fascinating. its a shame that the republicans got a bunch of states to ban the practice because they don't want to fight "against the world" (wouldn't that be against the people who you want/intend to represent?) or cater to anyone else, etc.

fortunately, connecticut is one of the handful of states where it is still legal. read about it here and here. I love the idea that a party can be beholden to the few percent that tip the scale in a close vote. reminds of of why OPEC controls oil prices too. strange.

hell, if we were able to do this in every vote, on every matter, including the presidency, we might not be in the shithole we are now. especially bush being president. damn.

why haven't we repealed the bans? when does the other party candidate/party decide who they give their votes to? before, or after the votes are tallied? the little people would have more power if it was after.

comments? debate? let's go people.

(yeah, I'm mostly ignoring capital letters at this point. should I go wholesale and even not capitalize I or proper names? hrm. perhaps. would it annoy the hell out of my f-list? maybe.)
semiotic_pirate: (cracking up)
» What is the difference between an antiseptic and a disinfectant?

Disinfectants are chemical agents used to disinfect inanimate objects and surfaces. Examples of disinfectants include iodine solution, copper sulfate, ozone, and chlorine gas.

Antiseptics are chemical agents applied to living tissues to prevent infection. Antiseptics are generally less toxic than disinfectants because they must not cause too much damage to the host living tissue. Examples of antiseptics include iodine, 70% ethanol and 3% hydrogen peroxide.

The concentration of a chemical agent can determine if it can be used as a disinfectant or an antiseptic. In the case of iodine, weaker solutions of iodine can be used for antiseptic purposes, while stronger concentrations should be used as a disinfectant.

When vodka is your poison
By John Sweeney
BBC News, Russia

Thousands of Russians may have been poisoned by bootleg alcohol containing medical disinfectant causing drinkers' skin to turn yellow before they fall dangerously ill or die.

Pskov is the end of the line. I got off the Moscow overnight express and the earth started to buckle in front of me.

On the Pskov express I had played chess with a couple of Russians, the vodka bottles had come out, and soon every move of a pawn was celebrated with a toast.

If you're interested, I was about to win when the Russian bloke nicked my queen - anyway, I had had enough to drink to kill a small horse.

There is something about the light - or the lack of it - that eats the soul in Russia, that makes you drink. The dark days in winter, the grimness of ordinary life. They say one in six Russians is an alcoholic.

That is why President Putin, the former KGB man, is something of a puritan - at least in public.

He has brought in a series of laws, tripling the price of vodka and threatening dire penalties if people drink black market moonshine, which they call samogon .

And that is, of course, what everybody who can't afford shop-bought vodka does.

They called it the yellow death. It started in the summer when dozens of people turned up in casualty, a vile shade of yellow.

The dozens turned to hundreds, then a thousand. The better cases recovered, but will die long before their time.

The worst cases? Natasha is not yet 30, she's got a seven-year-old boy called Maxim and she has less than a year to live.

Her whole body has gone yellow - an instantly recognisable feature of toxic hepatitis.

Something has destroyed her liver and now all the natural toxins in the body are stacking up.

Her own body is poisoning her and there is nothing medicine - or at least nothing state medicine in Russia - can do about it.

Natasha and everyone else in the hospital corridors had bought samogon , moonshine, as usual - but something had been added to it.

Clear liquid

In Pskov, the authorities have tracked more than 1,000 poisonings with 120 dead.

Across Russia as a whole, officials have not counted, but some estimate 10,000 poison cases and 1,000 dead.

So who is responsible for this mass poisoning? I had gone to Pskov to try to get to the bottom of the yellow death.

We made friends with a gentlemanly Russian, Alexei, who was also an alcoholic, gave him a secret camera bag and sent him off to buy the samogon moonshine.

The plan was that we would then get it tested and analysed to see what the problem was. He bought the stuff for 20 roubles ($0.80, £0.40), a clear liquid in an old Coke bottle. I had a quick sniff.

The bouquet - rocket fuel with a touch of boot polish. And a quick gulp.

In the film Flash Gordon, the heroine is given a slug of bright green alcohol so that she can bear to sleep with Emperor Ming The Merciless. It tasted something like that.

We filmed the local cops going round busting all the little people, the street traders in samogon .

The local chief of police in Pskov, Gen Sergei Matveyev - a plump bureaucrat with a fatter gold watch - was not keen to tell me what was the most likely source of the poison.

Not many in authority give much of a damn about the nameless wretches of the earth: winos, moral degenerates.

The sense that many of the yellow people were ordinary Russians who had been poisoned through no great fault of their own seemed to be missing.

Medical disinfectant

A doctor told me that the most likely cause was something which had been added to the moonshine - polyhexamethylene biguanide hydrochloride.

And that stuff had got on the market as a medical disinfectant, Extrasept. It was 95% pure alcohol and tax exempt - making it cheaper than moonshine.

Dodgy traders had mixed the cheaper Extrasept with the home-made samogon - and made a killing.

It was only once I had learnt about polyhexo that I got seriously worried about the samogon I had drunk. It might have been contaminated too. Had I poisoned myself? Was I going to turn yellow, too?

We set off from Pskov to St Petersburg, to the Institute of Toxicology. They had been feeding Extrasept to rats. The results were inconclusive. I brought along a little bottle of the stuff I had drunk. They tested it and they found no polyhexo, so I was clean.

The Extrasept factory was a vast sprawling mess in Alexandrov - a town associated with Ivan the Terrible.

The technical director said there was nothing wrong with his product - and he even drank some to prove it. I asked him: "You're not afraid of turning yellow, are you?".

Later, when we got back to London, we had Extrasept tested on human liver cells - and it killed every single one.

From Our Own Correspondent was broadcast on Saturday 10 March, 2007 at 1130 GMT on BBC Radio 4. Please check the programme schedules for World Service transmission times.

John Sweeney will also be reporting on Russia's yellow death for This World on Wednesday 14 March, 2007 at 1900 GMT on BBC Two.

Other forms of yellow death:

yellow death cup mushrooms

Crocea Mors (yellow death) - the main sword of the Ancient Rome emperor Caesar.
semiotic_pirate: (Book Offering)

December 11, 2006
Op-Ed Contributor

Has Politics Contaminated the Food Supply?

THIS fall has brought plenty of bad news about food poisoning. More than 200 people in 26 states were sickened and three people were killed by spinach contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. At least 183 people in 21 states got salmonella from tainted tomatoes served at restaurants. And more than 160 people in New York, New Jersey and other states were sickened with E. coli after eating at Taco Bell restaurants.

People are always going to get food poisoning. The idea that every meal can be risk-free, germ-free and sterile is the sort of fantasy Howard Hughes might have entertained. But our food can be much safer than it is right now.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 76 million Americans are sickened, 325,000 are hospitalized, and 5,000 die each year because of something they ate.

Part of the problem is that the government’s food-safety system is underfinanced, poorly organized and more concerned with serving private interests than with protecting public health. It is time for the new Democratic Congress to reverse a decades-long weakening of regulations and face up to the food-safety threats of the 21st century.

One hundred years ago, companies were free to follow their own rules. Food companies sold children’s candy colored with dangerous heavy metals. And meatpackers routinely processed “4D animals” — livestock that were dead, dying, diseased or disabled.

The publication of Upton Sinclair’s novel “The Jungle” in 1906 — with its descriptions of rat-infested slaughterhouses and rancid meat — created public outrage over food safety. Even though the book was written by a socialist agitator, a Republican president, Theodore Roosevelt, eagerly read it.

After confirming Sinclair’s claims, Roosevelt battled the drug companies, the big food processors and the meatpacking companies to protect American consumers from irresponsible corporate behavior. He argued that bad business practices were ultimately bad for business. After a fight in Congress, Roosevelt largely got his way with passage of the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.

The decades that followed were hardly an idyll of pure food and flawless regulation. But the nation’s diverse agricultural and food-processing system limited the size of outbreaks. Thousands of small slaughterhouses processed meat, and countless independent restaurants prepared food from fresh, local ingredients. If a butcher shop sold tainted meat or a restaurant served contaminated meals, a relatively small number of people were likely to become ill.

Over the past 40 years, the industrialization and centralization of our food system has greatly magnified the potential for big outbreaks. Today only 13 slaughterhouses process the majority of the beef consumed by 300 million Americans.
Read more... )


Our penchant to merge, both vertically and horizontally, trying to aquire for ourselves (corporate speak, yeah?) a larger and juicier slice of the economic pie, is dangerous. A larger amount of the industry is under fewer people's control and that will be the death of us. We go from just a few people getting sick to thousands. Great. Food is something we cannot mess around with like it is just some commodity that can sit on the shelf forever. It is organic and living, and it is vulnerable to infection and contamination. Duh. Whoda thunk it?

Reminds me of an article I just read in Rolling Stone magazine called The Great Wealth Transfer. The illustration by Victor Juhasz is awesome. Read it.
semiotic_pirate: (EZ-Bake Oven)
I'm all for eating healthier... Although I am all for foods being delicious and not filled with artificial stuff too - I don't see that going away any time soon though.

'Bad fats' ban in NYC restaurants
New York City's Board of Health has voted to ban artery-clogging trans-fats from the city's restaurants.

The city's health officials have for years warned that the fats can cause obesity and lead to heart disease.

Trans-fats go into partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, which is commonly used for frying and baking.

The unanimous vote makes the city the first in the US to ban the fats, although the original strict deadline to comply has been lengthened.

Restaurants will be banned from using most frying oils containing trans-fats from 1 July, and will have to eliminate the fats from all foods by 1 July 2008.

'Unrealistic deadline'

Trans-fats are made when food processors harden fat to make it more like butter.

It can then be used for frying or baking, or put into processed foods and ready-made mixes for cakes and drinks like hot chocolate.

The Food and Drug Administration estimates that on average, Americans eat 4.7lb (2.14kg) of trans-fats each year.

The move has met with opposition from 24,000 restaurant owners in the city, who said the original six-month deadline to replace cooking oils and fats was unrealistic.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has defended the move.

They are partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, turning oily foods into semi-solid foods
Used to extend shelf life of products
Put into pastries, cakes, margarine and some fast foods
Can raise levels of "bad" cholesterol
Even a small reduction in consumption can cut heart disease
They have no nutritional benefit

"Nobody wants to take away your French fries and hamburgers - I love those things too.

"But if you can make them with something that is less damaging to your health, we should do that."

For more than a year, there has been a voluntary programme for the city's restaurants and fast food outlets to remove trans-fats from the food they serve.

Many American food makers and restaurant chains, including McDonald's and Taco Bell, have been experimenting with replacements for oils and foods that contain trans-fats.

Chicago is also considering a law that would restrict use of trans-fats in large restaurants.
semiotic_pirate: (Default)
November 11, 2006
Troubled Children - What’s Wrong With a Child? Psychiatrists Often Disagree

Paul Williams, 13, has had almost as many psychiatric diagnoses as birthdays.
Read more... )
semiotic_pirate: (Pirate Grrl - RIOT)
I'm sorry, but this is such utter bullshit. Women finally get some studies done on how their bodies work and what diseases are worse for them and how they work in their bodies and so forth and men are complaining because they aren't the main focus and that they have to share the research dollars and efforts? WTF?! Men (on average) are more likely to suffer an early death because of factors other than disease. Like gunshot wounds and criminal activities - no I'm not saying all men are criminals sheesh. I think what, in the statistics that they are misquoting, should be explained is cause of death. And people in minority groups are known to die due to reasons that are rooted in poverty. Oh, those medicare programs are to benefit the children, not the mother. GAH! The only thing I'll agree on is that prevention is the best medicine. All people need to remember that; it is in the choices we make every day about what we eat, how much we exercise, what stresses we allow in our lives and so forth. Back to the old Nature versus Nurture debate.

November 14, 2006
Health Disparities Persist for Men, and Doctors Ask Why

In recent years, women’s health has been a national priority. Pink ribbons warn of breast cancer. Pins shaped like red dresses raise awareness about heart disease. Offices of women’s health have sprung up at every level of government to offer information and free screenings, and one of the largest government studies on hormones and diet in aging focused entirely on older women.
Read more... )
semiotic_pirate: (Default)
Will cancer vaccine get to all women?

18 April 2005 news service
Debora MacKenzie

DEATHS from cervical cancer could jump fourfold to a million a year by 2050, mainly in developing countries. This could be prevented by soon-to-be-approved vaccines against the virus that causes most cases of cervical cancer - but there are signs that opposition to the vaccines might lead to many preventable deaths.
Read more... )


Just wanted to highlight the most important parts of the article here for those who want to bypass reading it:

DEATHS from cervical cancer could jump fourfold to a million a year by 2050

“Vaccinating men could be the best way to prevent the spread of the cancer-causing virus among women” That might be the key to getting vaccines accepted in cultures where trying to prevent sexually transmitted infections is equated with promiscuity.

"We found that some Asian women in Britain are afraid even to get tested for HPV infection, because they say if it is positive they will be killed, never mind that their husbands probably gave it to them,"

Apparently these journalists haven't been made aware of the Penile Cancer that it would also prevent...
semiotic_pirate: (SVU flashlight-search)
HPV Vaccine Studied For First Time In Men

A vaccine designed to protect against the most common causes of genital warts and cervical and penile cancer is now being evaluated in young men.

The Medical College of Georgia is a site for the first international study of a vaccine that protects against four strains of human papillomavirus in men age 16 to 23.

"It's a great opportunity for men to protect themselves from developing genital warts and penile cancer," says Dr. Daron G. Ferris, a principal investigator on the study who directs the MCG Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Center. "It's also a great way for men to protect their sexual partners from developing warts as well as cervical cancer, lower genital tract cancers and precancerous changes of the cervix."

MCG also is studying the vaccine in boys and girls age 10 to 15 and is still enrolling women age 15 to 45 in several other studies. "We are interested in looking at the efficacy of this vaccine in populations that will become target populations, should the Food and Drug Administration approve the vaccine," Dr. Ferris says.

MCG was the largest site in North America for the study in women age 15 to 25 of a vaccine for HPV types 16 and 18, the two most common causes of cervical and penile cancer. That vaccine was reported 100 percent effective at preventing the persistent HPV infections that cause cervical cancer in the Nov. 13 issue of the British journal, The Lancet.

This newest study in men protects against HPV types 16 and 18 as well as types 6 and 11, the two most common causes of genital warts.

Men have about an 80 percent lifetime risk of genital warts. Penile cancer is fortunately rare, accounting for less than 1 percent of all cancers in men; the risk is higher in uncircumcised men. About 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year in the United States.

"Men and women can both be carriers of HPV," Dr. Ferris says. "If we do a good job and vaccinate men as well, then it's less likely that women are going to be at risk. We are really excited about the opportunity to study this vaccine in men."

The researchers are looking for men age 16 to 23 who are sexually active but have no history of genital warts. Participants will be followed in nine outpatient visits over three years, receive free health evaluations that include testing for sexually transmitted diseases and will be compensated for their time.

Dr. Ferris expects some version of the vaccines will be generally available within five years and that other strains will be added to expand protection against the some 35 types of HPV that affect the genital tract. For more information about the studies, call Angela Richardson, study coordinator, 706-721-2535.


I know I don't want to be cynical about this revelation but I cannot help myself. Now that it is being put about that this vaccine will prevent cancer in MEN... I dunno. Comments? Rants? Cancer of the allmighty penis must be prevented!
semiotic_pirate: (Hand on Flintlock)
Friday, Jun. 09, 2006
Who Will Get, and Pay For, the Cervical Cancer Vaccine?
The newly approved vaccine is a major breakthrough, but tough questions about its cost and target market remain


With the approval of Merck's vaccine against cervical cancer Thursday, parents will soon be having some important and touchy conversations with their young daughters — about sex.

That's because an overwhelming 70% of cervical cancer cases around the world are caused by strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), which are transmitted via intercourse. Gardasil, the second cancer-fighting vaccine approved by the agency, is designed to prevent infections of four of the most common strains of HPV. (It will also fight off HPV infections that cause genital warts.)

The FDA approval is the first hurdle for the vaccine, which now faces a committee of the Centers for Disease Control on June 29. It's the CDC's job to decide who should receive the vaccine, and when. They are considering making the vaccine mandatory, like the childhood immunizations against measles and rubella, for all girls aged 11-12. Based on the CDC's recommendation, state officials and private insurers will then determine whether they will pay for the shots — no easy task since the vaccine is given three times over six months and costs $360. In order to be most effective, say doctors, Gardasil should be given to young girls before they become sexually active and are potentially exposed to the virus. The FDA approved the vaccine for girls and women ranging in age from nine to 26.

Because HPV is transmitted sexually, some pro-abstinence conservative groups had opposed Gardasil's approval early on, fearful that giving the shots to young girls would promote promiscuity. But cancer doctors have argued that the benefit of preventing cases of the second-leading cause of cancer in women in the U.S. far outweighed this concern.

And it's not just women in the U.S. and the developed world who will benefit. With HPV infections a major cause of cervical cancer deaths in the developing world, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has provided almost $28 million to create programs that will eventually provide the vaccine to women in India, Uganda, Peru and Vietnam.


Wait a minute... parents will only talk to their female children? Isn't this vaccine (as all are) good for prevention of HPV in both males and females? What does protection from DISEASE have to do with sexual proclivities? If it is given like any other vaccine (like Polio and MMR) then what is the problem? Frackin' idiots.
semiotic_pirate: (PirateLiberty)
This is basically what meditation teaches you to do. You visualize your body (metaphorically or actually) and are able to control aspects of our body. Relax your muscles, unknot painful areas, reduce tension... For people who need more of a realistic image of their body in order to do this, to be trained to do this, there is now a way...

May 14, 2006

My Pain, My Brain


Who hasn't wished she could watch her brain at work and make changes to it, the way a painter steps back from a painting, studies it and decides to make the sky a different hue? If only we could spell-check our brain like a text, or reprogram it like a computer to eliminate glitches like pain, depression and learning disabilities. Would we one day become completely transparent to ourselves, and — fully conscious of consciousness — consciously create ourselves as we like?

The glitch I'd like to program out of my brain is chronic pain. For the past 10 years, I have been suffering from an arthritic condition that causes chronic pain in my neck that radiates into the right side of my face and right shoulder and arm. Sometimes I picture the pain — soggy, moldy, dark or perhaps ashy, like those alarming pictures of smokers' lungs. Wherever the pain is located, it must look awful by now, after a decade of dominating my brain. I'd like to replace my forehead with a Plexiglas window, set up a camera and film my brain and (since this is my brain, I'm the director) redirect it. Cut. Those areas that are generating pain — cool it. Those areas that are supposed to be alleviating pain — hello? I need you! Down-regulate pain-perception circuitry, as scientists say. Up-regulate pain-modulation circuitry. Now.

Recently, I had a glimpse of what that reprogramming would look like. I was lying on my back in a large white plastic f.M.R.I. machine that uses ingenious new software, peering up through 3-D goggles at a small screen. I was experiencing a clinical demonstration of a new technology — real-time functional neuroimaging — used in a Stanford University study, now in its second phase, that allows subjects to see their own brain activity while feeling pain and to try to change that brain activity to control their pain.

Over six sessions, volunteers are being asked to try to increase and decrease their pain while watching the activation of a part of their brain involved in pain perception and modulation. This real-time imaging lets them assess how well they are succeeding. Dr. Sean Mackey, the study's senior investigator and the director of the Neuroimaging and Pain Lab at Stanford, explained that the results of the study's first phase, which were recently published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that while looking at the brain, subjects can learn to control its activation in a way that regulates their pain. While this may be likened to biofeedback, traditional biofeedback provides indirect measures of brain activity through information about heart rate, skin temperature and other autonomic functions, or even EEG waves. Mackey's approach allows subjects to interact with the brain itself.
Read more... )


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