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If you want to understand a culture, look at its drugs of choice. February 23, 2017

Posted by tkcollier in health, In The News, Lifestyle.
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Scarface!!!!!!!!!!1“Drugs have always reflected a simpler, consistent truism. Sometimes we have wanted out of ourselves, sometimes we’ve wanted out of society, sometimes out of boredom or out of poverty; but always, whatever the case, we have wanted out. One can only guess where this is leading America and Trumponomics will be hard pressed to reverse it. In the past, this desire was always temporary — to recharge our batteries, to find a space away from our experiences and the demands of living pressed upon us. However, more recently, drug use has become about finding a durable, lengthier, existential escape — a desire that is awfully close to self-obliteration.”

Source: If you want to understand a culture, look at its drugs of choice.

What makes mosquitoes bite certain people and not others? June 29, 2015

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Many years ago in another twin study we showed that underarm body odour as perceived by human sniffers had a genetic basis – with huge variability in how strong smells were perceived. This showed that we have gene variations controlling both the odours we perceive and the chemical odours we produce. In this way we are similar to mosquitoes because they also have big differences in which odours and chemicals attract and repel them.

Different mosquitoes prefer different parts of our bodies to others. The species Aedes Gambiae prefers the odours of our hands and feet to other bits like groins and armpits. Some animals use their body odour to keep insects away and companies have been trying to unravel what the best chemicals are.

So, the next time you get bitten by a mosquito on the ankle – don’t blame bad luck or your cheap repellent – think of the amazing evolutionary match-making processes that hooked up your special mix of genes to a particular community of microbes that feed off your skin and produce a chemical that only certain species of mosquito find irresistible.

via What makes mosquitoes bite certain people and not others? – Agenda – The World Economic Forum.

How Safe to take the Train? May 15, 2015

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Causes of Autism Found January 26, 2015

Posted by tkcollier in health, Science & Technology.
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Bird picture by autistic artist David Barth 2008

Bird picture by autistic artist David Barth 2008

“Let’s suppose you buy a book, we’re used to getting books where the cover’s on right, the pages are in order, and they tell a continuous story. But imagine a publisher that duplicated his pages, dropped some pages, changed the order of the pages. That’s what happens in the human genome. That’s copy number variation.”

This form of mutation turns out to appear with surprising frequency in the human genetic text. Wigler’s group first glimpsed the phenomenon in cancer cells, but his hunch was that similar “publishing” errors might also play a role in diseases like autism. Sure enough, when the researchers examined the genomes of people with autism, they often found weird, large-scale duplications or deletions of DNA—mutations not present in the mother or father. The fact that they were not inherited strongly suggested that they were recent corruptions of the genetic text, almost certainly arising in the sperm or egg cells of the parents.

“The evolutionary twist on this whole story, is that our genome is really set up to fail, in the sense that we’re prone to delete and duplicate. The flip side of it is that that selective disadvantage is offset by the emergence of novel genes that have conferred an advantage to us cognitively.”

via Genetic Advances Provide Insight into the Causes of Autism | MIT Technology Review.

Vampires Have Increased Risk Of Heart Attack May 10, 2013

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Edinburgh University research suggests sunlight helps reduce blood pressure, cutting heart attack and stroke risks and even prolonging life.

Heart disease and stroke linked to high blood pressure are estimated to lead to about 80 times more deaths than those from skin cancer in the UK.

Dietary vitamin D supplements alone will not be able to compensate for lack of sunlight” Dr Richard Weller Edinburgh University

Production of the pressure-reducing compound, nitric oxide, is separate from the body’s manufacture of vitamin D, which rises after exposure to sunshine.

via BBC News – Sun’s blood pressure benefits ‘may outdo cancer risks’.

More Baby Talk = More IQ April 10, 2013

Posted by tkcollier in health, In The News, Lifestyle.
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Children whose families were on welfare heard about 600 words per hour. Working-class children heard 1,200 words per hour, and children from professional families heard 2,100 words. By age 3, a poor child would have heard 30 million fewer words in his home environment than a child from a professional family. And the disparity mattered: the greater the number of words children heard from their parents or caregivers before they were 3, the higher their IQ and the better they did in school. TV talk not only didn’t help, it was detrimental.

Hart and Risley later wrote that children’s level of language development starts to level off when it matches that of their parents — so a language deficit is passed down through generations. They found that parents talk much more to girls than to boys (perhaps because girls are more sociable, or because it is Mom who does most of the care, and parents talk more to children of their gender). This might explain why young, poor boys have particular trouble in school. And they argued that the disparities in word usage correlated so closely with academic success that kids born to families on welfare do worse than professional-class children entirely because their parents talk to them less. In other words, if everyone talked to their young children the same amount, there would be no racial or socioeconomic gap at all. (Some other researchers say that while word count is extremely important, it can’t be the only factor.)

via The Power of Talking to Your Baby – NYTimes.com.

How Vaccines Have Changed Our World April 1, 2013

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, health, Science & Technology.
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The data in this graphic come from the web site of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, but a graphic designer in Purchase, N.Y., named Leon Farrant has created a graphic that drives home what the data mean.

Below is a look at the past morbidity (how many people became sick) of what were once very common infectious diseases, and the current morbidity in the U.S.

Print

via How Vaccines Have Changed Our World In One Graphic – Forbes.

Get Fat Back In Your Diet March 17, 2013

Posted by tkcollier in Food, In The News, Lifestyle.
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Listening to the doctors on cable TV, you might think that it’s better to cook up a batch of meth than to cook with butter. But eating basic, earthy, fatty foods isn’t just a supreme experience of the senses—it can actually be good for you.

The foods that best hit that sweet spot and “overwhelm the brain” with pleasure are high-quality fatty foods. They discourage us from overeating. A modest serving of short ribs or Peking duck will be both deeply pleasurable and self-limiting. As the brain swoons into insensate delight, you won’t have to gorge a still-craving cortex with mediocre sensations. “Sensory-specific satiety” makes a slam-dunk case (it’s science!) for eating reasonable servings of superbly satisfying fatty foods.

via Let Them Eat Fat: In Praise of Fatty Foods – WSJ.com.

Would you rather be Right or Happy? March 16, 2013

Posted by tkcollier in Business, health, Lifestyle.
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When you argue and win, your brain floods with different hormones: adrenaline and dopamine, which makes you feel good, dominant, even invincible. It’s a the feeling any of us would want to replicate. So the next time we’re in a tense situation, we fight again. We get addicted to being right.

lionHenpeckedI’ve coached dozens of incredibly successful leaders who suffer from this addiction. They are extremely good at fighting for their point of view (which is indeed often right) yet they are completely unaware of the dampening impact that behavior has on the people around them. If one person is getting high off his or her dominance, others are being drummed into submission, experiencing the fight, flight, freeze or appease response I described before, which diminishes their collaborative impulses.

Luckily, there’s another hormone that can feel just as good as adrenaline: oxytocin. It’s activated by human connection and it opens up the networks in our executive brain, or prefrontal cortex, further increasing our ability to trust and open ourselves to sharing. Your goal as a leader should be to spur the production of oxytocin in yourself and others, while avoiding (at least in the context of communication) those spikes of cortisol and adrenaline.

(more…)

More Deaths Caused by Obesity than Hunger December 29, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, health, In The News, Lifestyle.
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Obesity has become a bigger threat to global health than child hunger, according to a major study.

More than three million deaths in 2010 were attributable to excess body weight, three times the death toll due to malnutrition.

The largest investigation of disease ever undertaken, published yesterday, also found that high blood pressure, smoking and drinking alcohol have become the world’s biggest health risks.

So-called diseases of the western industrialised nations have become more prevalent as developing nations become more affluent. Fewer infants are dying of starvation in the poorest countries while a fast expanding middle-class in the emerging economies. ibeatanorexia

Obesity kills more than hunger in march of ‘progress’ | The Times.

You Can’t Blame Your Stress On Work September 15, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, health, Lifestyle.
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Work stress, job satisfaction and health problems due to high stress have more to do with genes than you might think.

The lead author of “Genetic influences on core self-evaluations, job satisfaction, work stress, and employee health: A behavioral genetics mediated model,” published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Judge studied nearly 600 twins — some identical, some fraternal — who were raised together and reared apart. He found that being raised in the same environment had very little effect on personality, stress and health. Shared genes turned out to be about four times as important as shared environment.

via Feeling stressed by your job? Don’t blame your employer, study shows.

Bird Flu Blamed for Seal Deaths August 7, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, health, In The News.
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First there was swine flu. Now, while everyone’s attention is on another  Ebola outbreak there may be seal flu.

In the wake of a pneumonia outbreak that killed 162 harbor seals in New England last year, researchers are blaming the deaths on an avian flu virus.

The virus is similar to one circulating in North American birds since 2002 but shows signs of having recently adapted to mammals, according to according to Ian Lipkin, MD, of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York City and colleagues.

The outbreak is “particularly significant,” they wrote, because the virus has naturally acquired mutations that may make it a candidate to cause disease in humans.

via Medical News: Bird Flu Blamed for Seal Deaths – in Infectious Disease, Flu & URI from MedPage Today.

AARP- an Insurance Company in Non-Profit Clothes July 31, 2011

Posted by tkcollier in Business, health.
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AARP, under the guise of an orginization offering discounts to Seniors,  sells their names to companies, who pay heftily to be their exclusive supplier. A recent Hearing Aid company bankruptcy revealed that the deal is very lucrative for AARP.  A lion-share of AARP payments come from Seniors into their captive for-profit corporation, which has grown into the 6th largest US Insurance company, with almost half-a-billion dollars in profits. Planned cuts in Medicare, will encourage more Seniors to purchase Medigap Insurance, through AARP’s exclusive agent – United, to the tune of an estimated $1 billion during the next 10 years. The chart shows the decreasing share that is returned to the non-profit side of AARP, except, by non-profit standards, the lush salaries and perks management enjoys, while being on both Boards. Read the full report at AARP_Report.pdf (application/pdf Object).

Cancer Leading Cause of Death in China May 29, 2011

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Cancer is now the leading cause of death in China. Chinese Ministry of Health data implicate cancer in close to a quarter of all deaths countrywide. As is common with many countries as they industrialize, the usual plagues of poverty — infectious diseases and high infant mortality — have given way to diseases more often associated with affluence, such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

While this might be expected in China’s richer cities, where bicycles are fast being traded in for cars and meat consumption is climbing, it also holds true in rural areas. In fact, reports from the countryside reveal a dangerous epidemic of “cancer villages” linked to pollution from some of the very industries propelling China’s explosive economy. By pursuing economic growth above all else, China is sacrificing the health of its people, ultimately risking future prosperity.

Lung cancer is the most common cancer in China. Deaths from this typically fatal disease have shot up nearly fivefold since the 1970s. In China’s rapidly growing cities, like Shanghai and Beijing, where particulates in the air are often four times higher than in New York City, nearly 30 percent of cancer deaths are from lung cancer.

via Cancer is now the leading cause of death in China | Grist.

Video – Our 200 Year Increase in Life Expectancy and Wealth December 2, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, health, Life, Video.
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Cure For The Common Cold? November 2, 2010

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“In any immunology textbook you will read that once a virus makes it into a cell, that is game over because the cell is now infected. At that point there is nothing the immune response can do other than kill that cell,” said Leo James, who led the research team.

But studies at the Medical Research Council’s laboratory have found that the antibodies produced by the immune system, which recognise and attack invading viruses, actually ride piggyback into the inside of a cell with the invading virus.

Once inside the cell, the presence of the antibody is recognised by a naturally occurring protein in the cell called TRIM21 which in turn activates a powerful virus-crushing machinery that can eliminate the virus within two hours – long before it has the chance to hijack the cell to start making its own viral proteins. “This is the last opportunity a cell gets because after that it gets infected and there is nothing else the body can do but kill the cell,” Dr James said.

via A cure for the common cold may finally be achieved as a result of a remarkable discovery in a Cambridge laboratory – Science, News – The Independent.

Alcohol more harmful than heroin, cocaine, study finds November 1, 2010

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The study, published in the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet,  found that heroin, crack cocaine, and metamfetamine were the most harmful drugs to individuals (part scores 34, 37, and 32, respectively), whereas alcohol, heroin, and crack cocaine were the most harmful to others (46, 21, and 17, respectively). Overall, alcohol was the most harmful drug (overall harm score 72), with heroin (55) and crack cocaine (54) in second and third places.

Marijuana, ecstasy and LSD scored far lower in the study, paid for by Britain’s Centre for Crime and Justice Studies

Experts said alcohol scored so high because it is so widely used and has devastating consequences not only for drinkers but for those around them.

When drunk in excess, alcohol damages nearly all organ systems. It is also connected to higher death rates and is involved in a greater percentage of crime than most other drugs, including heroin.

via Alcohol more harmful than heroin, cocaine, study finds – CTV News.

Maybe You Shouldn’t “Make Your Bed” August 8, 2010

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Researcher Dr Stephen Pretlove said: “We know that mites can only survive by taking in water from the atmosphere using small glands on the outside of their body.

“Something as simple as leaving a bed unmade during the day can remove moisture from the sheets and mattress so the mites will dehydrate and eventually die.”  Thanks to Suzanne in France.

via BBC NEWS | Health | Untidy beds may keep us healthy.

No More Dental Fillings? July 28, 2010

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A gel that can help decayed teeth grow back in just weeks may mean an end to fillings.

The gel, which is being developed by scientists in France, works by prompting cells in teeth to start multiplying. They then form healthy new tooth tissue that gradually replaces what has been lost to decay.

Researchers say in lab studies it took just four weeks to restore teeth back to their original healthy state. The gel contains melanocyte-stimulating hormone, or MSH.

via Gel that can help decayed teeth grow back could end fillings | Mail Online.

After 75 Years, We Don’t Know How AA Works July 18, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Lifestyle, Religion, Science & Technology.
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As dependence grows, alcoholics also lose the ability to properly regulate their behavior. This regulation is the responsibility of the prefrontal cortex, which is charged with keeping the rest of the brain apprised of the consequences of harmful actions. But mind-altering substances slowly rob the cortex of so-called synaptic plasticity, which makes it harder for neurons to communicate with one another. When this happens, alcoholics become less likely to stop drinking, since their prefrontal cortex cannot effectively warn of the dangers of bad habits.

The loss of synaptic plasticity is thought to be a major reason why more than 90 percent of recovering alcoholics relapse at some point. Because the synapses in their prefrontal cortex are still damaged, they have a tough time resisting the urges created by these triggers. Any small reminder of their former life—the scent of stale beer, the clink of toasting glasses—is enough to knock them off the wagon.

AA, it seems, helps neutralize the power of these sensory cues by whipping the prefrontal cortex back into shape. Publicly revealing one’s deepest flaws and hearing others do likewise forces a person to confront the terrible consequences of their alcoholism—something that is very difficult to do all alone.

via Secret of AA: After 75 Years, We Don’t Know How It Works | Magazine.

Why It Is Harder For Drinkers To Quit Smoking June 5, 2010

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If drinking and smoking seem inextricably linked, perhaps it’s because in the brain’s pleasure centre they actually are.

Alcoholics often have a particularly hard time quitting cigarettes. Traute Flatscher-Bader at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, and colleagues wondered why this should be. So they did a post-mortem analysis of gene expression in the brains of smokers, alcoholics and those who had done both during their lives.

They found that a group of genes in the nucleus accumbens – an area involved in creating pleasurable feelings – were expressed most strongly in their group of alcoholic smokers (Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, DOI: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2010.01207.x).

These genes play a role in rewiring the neurons in the nucleus accumbens. That means people who both smoke and drink might get a greater reward, making it harder for them to quit, says Flatscher-Bader.

Knowing that the link between drinking and smoking may not be purely social could lead to new ways to treat addiction.

via Trying to quit smoking? The devil is in the drink – health – 05 June 2010 – New Scientist.

Restaurant Chain Menu Choices To Die From May 25, 2010

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Most people wouldn’t think to order two orders of deep-fried steak and eggs for breakfast at a casual chain like Bob Evans. But if you order Bob Evans’ Cinnamon Cream Stacked & Stuffed Hotcakes, you’ll be getting 1,380 calories and 34 grams of bad fat—about what you’d get in two country-fried steaks and four eggs. But the hotcakes are worse because seven grams of their bad fat comes from trans fat—more than one should get in three and a half days. Syrup adds another 200 calories for every four-tablespoon serving.

Bob Evans Cinnamon Cream Stacked & Stuffed Hotcakes. Pancakes, which are usually lightly fried white flour topped with sugary syrup, have never been a healthy breakfast. But Bob stuffs his hotcakes with cinnamon chips made of sugar and fat; adds a layer of cream-cheese-flavored filling; and tops them with sugary “cream” sauce, whipped topping, and powdered sugar. And that makes the item one of CSPI’s top Xtreme Eating dishonorees for 2010.

To put these numbers into context, keep in mind that the average American should consume about 2,000 calories per day, and consume no more than 20 grams of saturated fat.

Xtreme Eating 2010. (more…)

Furor Over Return Of Nurse’s Caps May 10, 2010

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At JFK Medical Center, health care reform is already under way, in the shape of a traditional white nurse’s cap.

The nurses in the Atlantis hospital’s cardiovascular step-down unit have temporarily tossed their royal blue scrubs for retro nurses’ whites – starched cap, hose and shoes included.

As a remedy, many hospitals nationwide have adopted color-coded uniform policies. St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, for example, addressed the problem when it implemented a new uniform policy in February.

Nurses now wear white tops and blue pants, pediatric nurses wear kid-friendly tops, unit secretaries are clad in khaki, and all clinical departments are assigned specific colors. Click on the link and read the flood of comments.

via Retro nurse’s outfit has returned to JFK Medical Center.

Have We Forgotten How To Sleep? May 9, 2010

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If we can’t sleep, perhaps it’s because we’ve forgotten how. In premodern times people slept differently, going to bed at sunset and rising with the dawn. In winter months, with so long to rest, our ancestors may have broken sleep up into chunks. In developing countries people still often sleep this way. They bed down in groups and get up from time to time during the night. Some sleep outside, where it is cooler and the effect of sunlight on our circadian rhythm is more direct. In 2002, Carol Worthman and Melissa Melby of Emory University published a comparative survey of how people sleep in a variety of cultures. They found that among foraging groups such as the Kung and Efe, “the boundaries of sleep and waking are very fluid.” There is no fixed bedtime, and no one tells anyone else to go to sleep. Sleepers get up when a conversation or musical performance intrudes on their rest and intrigues them. They might join in, then nod off again.

Now consider the siesta. The timing of the traditional siesta corresponds to a natural post-lunch dip in our circadian rhythms, and studies have shown that people who catnap are generally more productive and may even enjoy lower risk of death from heart disease. It is the Spanish who have made the siesta famous. Unfortunately, Spaniards no longer live close enough to work to go home and nap. Instead some use the afternoon break to go out for long lunches with friends and colleagues. Having spent two hours at lunch, Spanish workers then cannot finish work until seven or eight. But even then they don’t always go home. They go out for drinks or dinner instead. (Go to a Spanish disco at midnight and you’re likely to be dancing alone; their prime-time TV shows are just ending.)

Lately the Spanish have begun to take the prob­lem of sleep deprivation seriously. The police now question drivers in serious accidents about how long they slept the night before, and the government has recently mandated shorter hours for its employees to try to get them home earlier.

What has motivated the Spanish to take action against sleepiness is not so much their accident rate—historically among the highest in western Europe—as their flat productivity. The Spanish spend more time at work and their productivity is less than most of their European neighbors.

Secrets of Sleep – National Geographic Magazine.

Mosquitoes Bite Mellow People September 3, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, health.
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anopheles biteIf you’re one of those people whom mosquitoes tend to favor, maybe it’s because you aren’t sufficiently stressed-out.

Insects have very keen powers of smell that direct them to their targets. But for researchers trying to figure out what attracts or repels the pests, sorting through the 300 to 400 distinct chemical odors that the human body produces has proved daunting.

Dr. Logan suggests that mosquitoes may deem hosts that emit more of these chemicals to be diseased or injured and “not a good quality blood meal.” Proteins in the blood are necessary for female mosquitoes to produce fertile eggs, and Dr. Logan says it might be evolutionarily advantageous for mosquitoes to detect and avoid such people.

via Mosquito Bites: The Real Reason Some People Are Immune – WSJ.com. (more…)

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