Health & Wellness


Study finds obesity related to neural changes similar to substance addiction

© David Gray / Reuters
The popular assumption that obesity is simply the result of a lack of willpower could be contested by new international research. It posits that obese people's brains are predisposed to food addiction in much the same way a drug addict's are to substance abuse.

It all has to do with different brain networks being activated in those suffering the condition and those who don't.

Scientists with the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) believe new doors to obesity treatment could be open as humanity gains a better understanding of the cause of the problem.

It's no wonder, say the researchers, that repeated attempts to manage the problem or cure it have been fruitless - apart from bariatric surgery. They believe treatment should address the addiction mechanisms that play a key role.


New wasp study finds sting in the tail for cancer cells

Brazilian Wasp
Research has found a Brazilian wasp's venom could destroy tumours of leukaemia, prostate and bladder cancer without harming healthy tissue. The venom of the Brazilian wasp Polybia paulista contains a powerful "smart" drug that selectively targets and destroys tumour cells without harming normal cells, a study has shown. In laboratory tests, the poison has been shown to suppress the growth of prostate and bladder cancer cells, as well as leukaemia cells resistant to a range of drugs.
New research has now revealed the secret of the venom toxin, known as MP1. Scientists found that it blows gaping holes in the protective membranes surrounding tumour cells by interacting with fatty molecules called lipids.
Dr Paul Beales, a researcher from Leeds University, said: "Cancer therapies that attack the lipid composition of the cell membrane would be an entirely new class of anti-cancer drugs. This could be useful in developing new combination therapies, where multiple drugs are used simultaneously to treat a cancer by attacking different parts of the cancer cells at the same time."

Comment: Once again, humans look to other creatures to solve their avoidable health problems. Complementary nature always pays a price. With cancer being a top money maker, how long will They let this research unfold before hauling out the bug spray?


Can Egyptian mummies tell us something about heart disease?

Egyptian mummies showed clear signs of fatty buildup in their arteries.
A study of the arteries of ancient Egyptians has challenged the received wisdom that the illness is simply down to unhealthy modern lifestyles.

In 2008, Greg Thomas, a cardiologist from California, was in Cairo for work. While there, he visited the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities with another cardiologist, Adel Allam of Al Azhar University in Cairo. They came across the mummy of King Merneptah, a pharaoh who lived 3,200 years ago. The description on Merneptah's case said he had suffered from atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque on artery walls. Both men were sure this must be wrong. How could an ancient Egyptian have had heart disease, when most of the risk factors for the disease - obesity, unhealthy diet, smoking and lack of exercise - did not then exist? But could they prove it?

Thomas, medical director of the MemorialCare Heart and Vascular Institute in Long Beach, California and Allam discussed how they could find out more about Merneptah's arteries. They theorised that any arterial plaques might still be visible on a CT scan, a computerised x-ray technology that produces 3D images. Plaques contain calcium, which degrades slowly - a key reason that bones endure for so long.

After months of negotiation with officials, the pair began scanning the museum's mummies (ironically, Merneptah was excluded, as Egyptian archaeological officials ruled that royal mummies could not be part of the project). What they found surprised them: many showed clear signs of fatty buildup in their arteries. When the results are adjusted for age (pre-modern people had shorter life-spans, so most of the remains are of people who died in their 40s or younger), the rate of atherosclerosis was about the same as it is for people in modern society, around 40%.

Until then, most researchers had believed that atherosclerosis was largely caused by modern lifestyles. The solution had seemed clear: if we moved more, ate more vegetables and fewer doughnuts, and quit smoking, we would significantly reduce the buildup of the plaques that are a key cause of heart disease.

Comment: Chronic infection is the most likely explanation for "modern" chronic diseases. We all are infected by a host of germs (bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses). Mainstream medicine hasn't caught up with that train of thought much yet. Remember how long it took to accept that stomach ulcers were caused by the infectious agent Helicobacter pylori?

For an in depth review of the current state of science, coupled with evolutionary thoughts, see this excellent book by Paul Ewald:
Plague Time: The New Germ Theory of Disease.


Why you should stop slouching: The posture-mood connection

Want to feel more confident and energetic? Stand up straight and strut your stuff because there's a connection between posture and mood.

The Posture-Mood Connection: Moment To Moment

Vivian Eisenstadt is an orthopedic and sports physical therapist, postural specialist, and spiritual psychologist. She believes our physical, mental and emotional states interact and affect each other on a moment-to-moment basis.

"Poor posture carries an energy with it," she told Care2. "Depression, fatigue, and insecurity are just some of the feelings that are associated with shoulders forward and forward head posture."

Eisenstadt said expressions like "keep your chin up" and "hold your head high" exist for a reason. "Standing straight exudes a sense of pride, confidence, and promotes happiness. By standing straight, you actually feel better. Try it right now. I'll bet you feel sexier."

Comment: Lost Posture: Why some indigenous cultures may not have back pain

Cupcake Pink

Experts report rise in patients suffering from 'severe vomiting syndrome' in heavy cannabis users

© Steve Dipaola/Reuters
Doctors in Britain have noticed a significant rise in patients suffering from cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS), a widely "unrecognized" condition that makes heavy cannabis users severely ill.

Alarming symptoms of the illness include severe stomach pains, vomiting and nausea.

Those diagnosed with the rare syndrome have to bath nearly five times a day in hot water just to ease their pain.

There have been two known occurrences of the condition in the UK involving patients who visited accident and emergency services multiple times, while cases worldwide are "increasing acutely."

Professor of gastroenterology at Birmingham City University, Dr Sauid Ishaq, warned the condition must be taken more seriously.

"This is a highly unrecognized condition, resulting in numerous unnecessary admissions. There is an urgent need to highlight this," he told the Mail Online.

Ishaq referred to a 42-year-old man from the East Midlands who was treated eight times for CHS last year.

The man, who had smoked marijuana since the age of 14, complained of abdominal pains, feeling feverish, vomiting and dehydration.

After a series of investigations, it was found that all symptoms ended when he stopped smoking the drug.

Comment: Marijuana for the Masses: Legalized cannabis and why the government wants us to go to pot


Acupuncture hits same biologic pathways in rats that pain drugs target in humans


This point is part of the Stomach meridian system, also denoted by the code ST 36.
In animal models, acupuncture appears to impact the same biologic pathways ramped up by pain and stress, analogous to what drugs do in humans. Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) researchers say their animal study, published online in Endocrinology, provides the strongest evidence to date on the mechanism of this ancient Chinese therapy in chronic stress.

"The benefits of acupuncture are well known by those who use it, but such proof is anecdotal. This research, the culmination of a number of studies, demonstrates how acupuncture might work in the human body to reduce stress and pain, and, potentially, depression," says the study's senor investigator, Ladan Eshkevari, associate professor in the department of nursing and the department of pharmacology and physiology at GUMC.

"We have now found a potential mechanism, and at this point in our research, we need to test human participants in a blinded, placebo controlled clinical study — the same technique we used to study the behavioral effects of acupuncture in rats," says Eshkevari, a nurse anesthetist and licensed acupuncturist. She is assistant program director of the Nurse Anesthesia Program at Georgetown's School of Nursing & Health Studies.

Eshkevari and her team found that applying the technique with electroacupuncture to a single but powerful acupuncture point — stomach meridian point 36 (St36) — blunts activity in the hypothalamus pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis, the chronic stress pathway that is also associated with chronic pain, the immune system, mood and emotions. Tuning HPA down via acupuncture reduced production of stress hormones, secreted by the pathway, that are involved in the chronic stress response.

Comment: See also Acupuncture Relieves Pain in Largest Study of Treatment


Plague time: CDC puts doctors on alert for Bubonic plague in U.S.


Since April 2015, eleven cases of plague have been recorded in the U.S., and three people have died leaving the CDC no other recourse but to issue
a warning to alert doctors of potential cases that may arise.

There is a "Heightened Risk"

"It is unclear why the number of cases in 2015 is higher than usual," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Many of the cases are occurring in rural and semi-rural areas in the western United States. The report lists two cases in Arizona, one in California, four in Colorado, one in Georgia, two in New Mexico and one in Oregon. The cases in California and Georgia have been linked to areas in or near Yosemite National Park in the southern Sierra Nevada. Dr. Natalie Kwit of the CDC emphasizes, "We don't want people to panic but we do want them to be aware of the heightened risk."

Comment: There is another dimension to plague that is largely lost on most individuals and even most doctors. And that is that many major autoimmune diseases have some connection to infectious diseases. This is to say that we can be carriers of Plagues, or microscopic parasites, that do not present symptoms for many years - but are no less dangerous, ultimately, to our health.

For a deeper examination of this idea read Paul W. Ewald's groundbreaking book Plague Time: The New Germ Theory of Disease and visit this forum discussion to learn how you may test for and counteract infectious diseases you may learn that you have.


Folks still living in FEMA's toxic Katrina trailers and likely have no idea

The FEMA Tox Box
As soon as Nick Shapiro turned into the parking lot of the Tumbleweed Inn in Alexander, N.D., he recognized the trailers. They were off-white, boxy, almost cartoonish, and unadorned with any of the frills — racing stripes, awnings, window treatments — that a manufacturer would typically add to set a trailer apart on a display lot.

But these trailers had never seen a display lot. Shapiro had first seen them when he was living in New Orleans in 2010, doing fieldwork for his Oxford University PhD. In New Orleans, everyone knew what they were, and the city was desperate to get rid of them. They had been built fast, and not to last. The fact that some people were still living in them because they had never gotten enough money to rebuild their homes, or had run afoul of unethical contractors, was just an unwanted reminder of how far the city still had to go to recover from Hurricane Katrina.

But in the oil fields of Alexander, where Shapiro found them, people had, at best, only a dim memory of hearing something bad about the trailers on the late night news.

Only one person in the improvised trailer park near the Tumbleweed Inn knew where the trailers were from. Now 19, he'd lived in one as a child, after his family's home was destroyed when the levees around New Orleans broke in 2005. "It feels like home," he said, looking around the park. "Not the landscape. The trailers. I'm used to it."

Most of the people living in the trailer park were like him: men, young, drawn to North Dakota from all over the U.S. by the prospect of making $16-an-hour minimum in an oil boomtown. So what if they had to pay $1,200 a month to live in a trailer out on the prairie? They made it work. They slept in bunk beds, seven to a trailer, so that they could save as much as they could, and then get the hell out of there.

Comment: FEMA trailers were truly "disaster" housing! There was a settlement for 55,000 residents of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas eligible for shares of $37.5M paid by more than two dozen manufacturers, plus $5.1M settlement with FEMA contractors that installed and maintained the units. The attorneys' fees and costs took $20.5 M and the plaintiffs were to receive about $4,020 each. [Perhaps someone in the government should have checked the math. The individual plaintiff share calculates to $401.80.] While juries in three trials sided with the companies and didn't award any damages, the above deal was finally brokered. Formaldehyde gas is considered a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and a probable human carcinogen by the EPA. The taxpayer paid $2B for trailers that should have been scrapped as junk. Did anyone calculate the healthcare cost for this fiasco? FEMA trailers, apparently the gift that keeps on giving.

Bacon n Eggs

New study finds no association between high levels of dietary saturated fat and heart disease

In February the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) submitted its 2015 Scientific Report1,2,3 to the US Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS).

This report serves as the foundation for the development of US dietary guidelines.

In a surprise twist, the DGAC not only suggested eliminating warnings about dietary cholesterol, it also reversed nearly four decades of nutrition policy by concluding that dietary fats have no impact on cardiovascular disease risk.

Unfortunately, the DGAC didn't set the record straight with regards to saturated fats, as it makes no firm distinction between healthy saturated fats and decidedly unhealthy trans fats.

For decades, healthy fat and cholesterol have been wrongfully blamed for causing heart disease, but over 70 published studies overwhelmingly dispute this.4

Comment: Eating a diet high in healthy fats while restricting carbohydrate intake can help to alleviate many diseases. You will have more energy, less inflammation and be much less susceptible to viruses and bacterial infections.

Red Flag

Another scientist's growing doubts over GMO safety

© Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr (CC BY-SA).
The protestor is right: GMOs are indeed a science experiment. And we are the guinea pigs.
Are GMOs safe? Up to a point, writes Jonathan Latham - provided you're not eating them. That's certainly not proven to be safe, indeed the hazards are numerous: protein encoding viral DNA fragments, herbicide metabolites, biotoxins whose operation is not understood, poorly conducted experiments ... and those are just the ones we know about.

By training, I am a plant biologist. In the early 1990s I was busy making genetically modified plants (often called GMOs for Genetically Modified Organisms) as part of the research that led to my PhD.

Into these plants we were putting DNA from various foreign organisms, such as viruses and bacteria.

I was not, at the outset, concerned about the possible effects of GM plants on human health or the environment. One reason for this lack of concern was that I was still a very young scientist, feeling my way in the complex world of biology and of scientific research.

Another reason was that we hardly imagined that GMOs like ours would be grown or eaten. So far as I was concerned, all GMOs were for research purposes only.

Comment: 'GMOs should ever have been let out of any lab': Everything you wanted to know about GMOs but were afraid to ask