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Syringe

Pulitzer prize science writer: 'You are not nearly scared enough about Ebola'

Experimental drugs and airport screenings will do nothing to stop this plague. If Ebola hits Lagos, we're in real trouble
© Foreignpolicy.com
Attention, World: You just don't get it.

You think there are magic bullets in some rich country's freezers that will instantly stop the relentless spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa? You think airport security guards in Los Angeles can look a traveler in the eyes and see infection, blocking that jet passenger's entry into La-la-land? You believe novelist Dan Brown's utterly absurd description of a World Health Organization that has a private C5-A military transport jet and disease SWAT team that can swoop into outbreaks, saving the world from contagion?

Wake up, fools. What's going on in West Africa now isn't Brown's silly Inferno scenario -- it's Steven Soderbergh's movie Contagion, though without a modicum of its high-tech capacity.

Last week, my brilliant Council on Foreign Relations colleague John Campbell, former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, warned that spread of the virus inside Lagos -- which has a population of 22 million -- would instantly transform this situation into a worldwide crisis, thanks to the chaos, size, density, and mobility of not only that city but dozens of others in the enormous, oil-rich nation. Add to the Nigerian scenario civil war, national elections, Boko Haram terrorists, and a countrywide doctors' strike -- all of which are real and current -- and you have a scenario so overwrought and frightening that I could not have concocted it even when I advised screenwriter Scott Burns on his Contagion script.

Comment: Laurie Garrett, (Science Journalist, from the Council of Foreign Relations) on The Colbert Report discussing Monsanto's Modified Wheat

Ebola outbreak becoming uncontrollable; meanwhile Monsanto invests in anti-Ebola drug

Bacon n Eggs

Gut bacteria - puppet masters? In an ecosystem within us, microbes evolved to sway food choices

© UC San Francisco
This image illustrates the relationship between gut bacteria and unhealthy eating.
It sounds like science fiction, but it seems that bacteria within us - which outnumber our own cells about 100-fold - may very well be affecting both our cravings and moods to get us to eat what they want, and often are driving us toward obesity.

In an article published this week in the journal BioEssays, researchers from UC San Francisco, Arizona State University and University of New Mexico concluded from a review of the recent scientific literature that microbes influence human eating behavior and dietary choices to favor consumption of the particular nutrients they grow best on, rather than simply passively living off whatever nutrients we choose to send their way.

Bacterial species vary in the nutrients they need. Some prefer fat, and others sugar, for instance. But they not only vie with each other for food and to retain a niche within their ecosystem - our digestive tracts - they also often have different aims than we do when it comes to our own actions, according to senior author Athena Aktipis, PhD, co-founder of the Center for Evolution and Cancer with the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCSF.

While it is unclear exactly how this occurs, the authors believe this diverse community of microbes, collectively known as the gut microbiome, may influence our decisions by releasing signaling molecules into our gut. Because the gut is linked to the immune system, the endocrine system and the nervous system, those signals could influence our physiologic and behavioral responses.

Comment: Well, if gut bacteria is controlling our minds, better chose the one that prefers fat.

Health

A vegetarian diet will make you sick and crazy

I have to admit, that was kind of fun. See, what I did with the headline for this post was to look at a couple of observational studies and jump to the kind of unsubstantiated cause-and-effect conclusions so beloved by media health writers - and particularly beloved by many vegetarian zealots.

Take T. Colin Campbell - please. He and his vegan pals show up in vegan propaganda films like Forks Over Knives and solemnly inform that world that in countries with high rates of meat consumption, people are more likely to die of cancer. Must be the animal protein causing the cancer, ya see. (Unfortunately, this unscientific claptrap is persuasive to reviewers like Roger Ebert, who apparently knows a lot about good filmmaking but almost nothing about good science.)

There could be all kinds of reasons other than animal protein causes cancer! that people who live in countries with high rates of meat consumption are more likely to die of cancer. I'll give you just one: Animal protein is expensive compared to other foods, so people in prosperous countries eat more of it than people in poor countries do. People in prosperous countries also have longer lifespans because of better medical care - which means they live long enough to die from the diseases of old age, including cancer.

T. Colin Campbell, Neal Barnard, John McDougall ... I'm sure they're all intelligent enough to understand that correlation doesn't prove causation. I'm also sure they don't care, at least not when they can dig up a correlation that supports their vegetarian agenda. That's because they consider eating animal foods immoral. It's a sin, you see, so if they need to tell little white lies in order to stop people from sinning, that's okay. Nothing wrong with portraying correlation as causation if it supports the true cause.

So in that spirit, let's take a look at the studies that inspired my headline. Here are some quotes from an online article about a study linking vegetarianism to poor health:
Vegetarians may have a lower BMI and drink alcohol sparingly, but vegetarian diets are tied to generally poorer health, poorer quality of life and a higher need for health care than their meat-eating counterparts.

Comment: No need to be careful on this one, a vegetarian diet DOES make you sick. See:

-Do You Have to be Mental to be a Vegetarian?
-Vegetarianism - Increased risk for autoimmune disease
-Burying The Vegetarian Hypothesis

Eggs Fried

The more cholesterol the merrier! Evidence links higher cholesterol with lower risk of death


In short, we are misguided if we assumed that higher levels of cholesterol are a sign of increased death risk. In older individuals, there is evidence that the reverse is true.
Cholesterol in the bloodstream is carried within protein-rich packages known as 'lipoproteins'. These come in two main types, so-called 'low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol' (LDL-C) and 'high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol' (HDL-C). Conventional wisdom has it that LDL-C is responsible for dumping cholesterol on the inside of arteries, and is dubbed 'bad cholesterol' as a result. On the other hand, HDL-cholesterol is said to be a sign of cholesterol being cleared from the inside of arteries, as is generally thought of as 'good cholesterol'.

I was interested to read a recent study in which the associations between LDL- and HDL-C levels and degree of arterial disease were assessed in a group of individuals age 80 and over [1]. Arterial disease was assessed via calcium scoring. This test is believed to provide an accurate measure of the degree of build up of 'atherosclerotic plaque' on the inside of the arteries around the heart.
Attention

Ebola outbreak scale 'vastly underestimated' - WHO

Sierra Leone government burial team members load the body of an Ebola victim onto a truck at an MSF facility in Kailahun, on August 14, 2014.
© AFP Photo / Carl de Souza
Sierra Leone government burial team members load the body of an Ebola victim onto a truck at an MSF facility in Kailahun, on August 14, 2014.
The official death toll from the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa is currently standing at 1,069 deaths out of 1,975 cases, but the numbers could be vastly underestimated, the World Health Organization has warned.

"[WHO] staff at the outbreak sites see evidence that the numbers of reported cases and deaths vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak," the organization wrote on its website.

While no new cases surfaced, the outbreak is expected to continue "for some time" in West African states affected by the virus, the WHO said, adding that the "operational response plan extends over the next several months."

WHO is coordinating the international response such as the World Food Programme and is using its "well-developed logistics to deliver food to the more than one million people locked down in the quarantine zones, where the borders of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone intersect." The organization is also mapping out the outbreak to effectively locate closest treatment facilities.

Comment:

New Light on the Black Death: The Viral and Cosmic Connection

Comets, plagues, tobacco and the origin of life on earth

Pestilence, the Great Plague and the Tobacco Cure

Black Death found to be Ebola-like virus

Beneficial tobacco: Monoclonal antibodies derived from tobacco thwart West Nile virus

Health Benefits of Smoking Tobacco

Are you prepping your diet?

Beaker

A rare genetic mutation in these siblings makes them immune to viruses

Viruses are incompetent but smart little things. Unable to make proteins on their own, they hijack ours for their own nefarious purposes. But what if we gave the viruses broken proteins? An incredibly rare genetic disorder in a brother and sister pair does exactly that, making them immune to many classes of viruses - and suggesting new possibilities for antiviral treatments.

The immunity to viruses for these siblings, however, comes at a cost. Their cases, reported recently in the New England Journal of Medicine, are only the second and third ever described of this rare genetic disorder. The first was in a baby who died at 74 days. The 11-year-old boy and 6-year-old girl in this report have suffered developmental delays, hearing loss, fragile bones, and a weakened immune system. That makes it all the more remarkable that they rarely got ear infections or the flu.
Pills

Painkillers: FDA urges tighter rein on Hydrocodone pain medication - while simultaneously approving another

© treatment4addiction.com
In the year 2011, more than five billion hydrocodone-containing pain pills were prescribed to an estimated 47 million American patients.

According to a recent report1 from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in little over one decade (1999-2010), deaths from prescription painkiller overdose - whether accidental or intentional - leapt up 400 percent among women and 265 percent in men.

Last year, CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta also reported that:2
"Distribution of morphine, the main ingredient in popular painkillers, increased 600 percent from 1997-2007, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.3
In the United States, we now prescribe enough pain pills to give every man, woman and child one every four hours, around the clock, for three weeks."
Not surprisingly, deaths from these addictive and dangerous drugs have ballooned and become a significant societal problem. Overall, prescription drug deaths have far surpassed deaths from illicit street drugs, accounting for about three-quarters of all drug overdose deaths in the US.

Funny how among all this prescription drug carnage, American politicians still have the gall to single out dietary supplements as the threat to public health to be curbed through more stringent regulations and safety testing...
Among women, the overdose death rate is currently highest among 45 to 54-year olds, suggesting that at least a portion of these drugs are probably prescribed appropriately for pain. Unfortunately, many fail to realize just how addictive these drugs are, and how they affect other systems in your body.
Red Flag

Food Fascists - GMO and Pesticide Manufacturers - the down and dirty

© laleva.org
After decades of rearing hogs, Danish farmer IbBorup Pedersen was alarmed at the growing incidence of malformations and biological defects among his newborn piglets. Deformities included gaps in piglets' skulls, deformed bones, missing limbs and even a female piglet with testicles. Never having witnessed such large numbers of deformed pigs before, Pedersen realized that it was after switching three years earlier to Monsanto's GMO feed - which had been grown with glyphosate - that these birth defects began to appear. Pedersen had the piglets' bodies sent to a Danish laboratory for analysis. The results were clear; there were high concentrations of Monsanto's glyphosate pesticide, commonly known as Roundup, in the piglets' organs.[1] The analyses' findings were subsequently published in a recent Journal of Environmental and Analytical Toxicology.[2]

Pedersen's experience is another blow against Monsanto's public relations campaign to convince governments, farmers and consumers that Roundup is one of the world's safest pesticides and poses no risk to animal and human health. For many years Monsanto has stood by this myth with fanatical religious fervor against all existing independent evidence to the contrary.
Health

Chemical used by Colgate Total toothpaste to fight off gum disease is linked to cancer

A chemical that has been linked to cancer cell growth is being used by millions of Americans in toothpaste every day, it has emerged.

The company behind Colgate Total insists that triclosan, which it uses to stave off gum disease, is safe to use because the toothpaste was approved in 1997 by the Food and Drug Administration.

But the toxicology documents used by the FDA to approve the toothpaste were only released early this year after a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit last year - and reveal the agency relied upon company-backed science to reach its conclusion, Bloomberg News reported.

The 35-page report reveals the FDA had concerns that triclosan could increase the risk of cancer - but Colgate said the chemical was only problematic in large doses.

Comment: By the same token, the same policy should immediately apply to GMOs! See Are GMOs promoting autism, anti-social and cannibalistic behaviors?

Bulb

Is this really why Ebola health workers are collapsing?

Nurses take care of a patient with Ebola
© AFP/WHO
Nurses take care of a patient with Ebola hemorrhagic fever.
Ebola health workers in boiling hot suits, toxic chemicals


In recent articles, I stated it's a mistake to jump to a conclusion about what's really making doctors and nurses sick in African Ebola clinics. (see here and here).

Here's a missing factor in understanding what is happening to some of those doctors and nurses.

I'm not talking about Ebola. I'm talking about physiological shock, huge and sudden dehydration, and more.

On top of that, factor in a falsely positive diagnostic Ebola test for a few of those health workers, and what do you have? A nightmare.

From the Daily Mail, August 5, an article headlined, "In boiling hot suits...":

"Doctor Hannah Spencer revealed how she wills herself to feel safe inside a boiling hot air-sealed Hazmat suit..."

"Boiling: Doctors and nurses lose up to five litres in sweat during an hour-long shift in the suits and have to spend two hours rehydrating after..."

"To minimise the risk of infection they have to wear thick rubber boots that come up to their knees, an impermeable body suit, gloves, a face mask, a hood and goggles to ensure no air at all can touch their skin."

"Dr. Spencer, 27, and her colleagues lose up to five litres of sweat during a shift treating victims and have to spend two hours rehydrating afterwards."

"At their camp they go through multiple decontaminations which includes spraying chlorine on their shoes."

"Dr. Spencer: 'We would like to keep a [patient] visit between 45 minutes and one hour, but now, we're stretching it to almost two hours. We put ourselves through a very strong physiological stress when we're using personal protection gear.'"

"'We sweat, we're losing water; we're getting hotter and it wreaks havoc on the body. Our own endurance starts to wear down.'"
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