Health & Wellness


Farmed Fish Could Give Humans Mad Cow Disease

There is probably no illness that has more terrifying symptoms, or a more ghastly outcome, than variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) -- best known as mad cow disease. Abnormal proteins called prions found in brain tissue of cows suffering from bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) can cause vCJD in humans who eat meat from the animals. These mad cow disease-causing prions can literally result in people losing their minds because the infectious particles eat away at the brain, leaving tiny sponge-like holes. There is no treatment available and death always follows.

With government regulations notoriously lax when it comes to testing for BSE in the food supply, many people have given up eating beef in hopes of protecting themselves from exposure to mad cow disease. But an article just published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease suggests there may be another ticking time bomb source of vCJD -- farmed fish.


Fluoride Harmful to Kidney Patients, studies show

The National Kidney Foundation withdrew its support of water fluoridation citing the 2006 National Research Council (NRC) fluoride report (A) indicating that kidney patients are more susceptible to fluoride's bone and teeth-damaging effects forcing the American Dental Association (ADA) to admit on its web site that fluoride is a concern to kidney patients.

The kidney-impaired may retain and store more fluoride in their bones. High bone-fluoride-levels are linked to skeletal fluorosis (a bone weakening disease), fractures and severe tooth damage (enamel fluorosis) which can increase the risk of dental decay, reports the NRC.

Chronic kidney disease and bone fracture is already a growing concern. (B)

Light Saber

Jimmy Carter: The words of God do not justify cruelty to women

Discrimination and abuse wrongly backed by doctrine are damaging society, argues the former US president

"Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status ..." (Article 2, Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28)

I have been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world.

So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult.


Unshakeable self-confidence is in the genes, claim scientists

Scientists believe that many people are born winners with a rock solid self-confidence as much to do with nature as it is with nurture.

The new belief that this is something people are born with conflicts with previous theories that confidence is based on upbringing and other environmental factors.

Psychiatrists now say that the ability to perform under pressure may be something some people are born with.

They have also shown that children with a greater belief in their own abilities often perform better at school, even if they are actually less intelligent.


First Swine Flu Shots Will Not Be Safety Tested and Will Target Infants, Toddlers, School‐age Children, and Pregnant Women

On Friday, the National Biodefense Science Board met in emergency session to work on issues surrounding the H1N1 flu pandemic. They reviewed the report of their working group, "H1N1 COUNTERMEASURES STRATEGY AND DECISION-MAKING: A REPORT" [HERE], in order to provide input on it before it is sent to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices who makes final recommendations to Kathleen Sebelius on what the response to the outbreak should be.


Study shows babies detect emotions early on

New research shows babies have a handle on the meaning of different dog barks - despite little or no previous exposure to dogs.

Infants just 6 months old can match the sounds of an angry snarl and a friendly yap to photos of dogs displaying threatening and welcoming body language.

The new findings come on the heels of a study from the same Brigham Young University lab showing that infants can detect mood swings in Beethoven's music.

Though the mix of dogs and babies sounds silly, experiments of this kind help us understand how babies learn so rapidly. Long before they master speech, babies recognize and respond to the tone of what's going on around them.


Transplanted Neurons Develop Disease-Like Pathology in Huntington's Patients

The results of a recent study published in PNAS question the long-term effects of transplanted cells in the brains of patients suffering from Huntington's disease. This study, conducted jointly by Dr. Francesca Cicchetti of Université Laval in Quebec, Canada, Dr. Thomas B. Freeman of the University of South Florida, USA, and colleagues provides the first demonstration that transplanted cells fail to offer a long-term replacement for degenerating neurons in patients with Huntington's disease.

Huntington's disease is a neurodegenerative disease of genetic origin that targets a particular type of neuron. The loss of these neurons is responsible for the appearance of involuntary movements as well as cognitive and psychiatric impairments. Over a decade ago, Dr. Thomas Freeman of the University of South Florida initiated a clinical trial of neural cell transplantation in Huntington's diseased patients in an attempt to alleviate the dreadful symptoms that characterize this disease.

Some patients demonstrated some mild, transient clinical benefits that lasted for about 2 years. However, the loss of functional recovery after this indicated that graft survival and functionality may be jeopardized long- term.


Tension in Axons is Essential for Synaptic Signaling, Researchers Report

© L. Brian Stauffer, U. of I. News Bureau
University of Illinois doctoral student Scott Siechen (left), mechanical science and engineering professor Taher Saif and their colleagues found that tension in axons is required for proper neuron signaling.
Every time a neuron sends a signal - to move a muscle or form a memory, for example - tiny membrane-bound compartments, called vesicles, dump neurotransmitters into the synapse between the cells. Researchers report that this process, which is fundamental to the workings of the nervous system, relies on a simple mechanical reality: Tension in the axon of the presynaptic neuron is required.

Without this tension, the researchers found, the vesicles that must haul their chemical cargo to the synapse for neuronal signaling would instead disperse.

The new findings appear this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Imaging Tests Can Damage Kidneys, Increase Stroke and Heart Attack Risk

No matter what your health complaint is, if you go see your doctor you might end up undergoing some kind of high tech imaging procedure such as cardiac angiography, CT (computed tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). According to a study published last fall in the journal Health Affairs, medical imaging has soared over the last few years across all types of these tests, doubling the annual medical cost per patient. In fact, the study confirmed previous reports that patients are far-too-often being subjected to unnecessary imaging.

At least, most of these tests are minimally invasive and thoroughly studied to make sure they carry few risks so they are safe, right? Unfortunately, the answer is no. New reports of lasting, health-harming effects from some imaging tests are accumulating. A case in point: a new study just published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology (CJASN) warns that seemingly minor and reversible kidney damage injury which can arise after undergoing certain common medical imaging procedures is a serious health threat. The reason? It is linked to a greatly increased risk of stroke, heart attack and death.


Study Finds Melatonin Reduces Delirium after Operations in Children

Having an operation under general anesthesia is a scary and worrisome prospect for a child and his or her parents, too. But even a successful surgery can end with another, terrifying problem. Called emergence delirium, it is marked by acute behavioral changes experienced when a child wakes up from anesthesia. And it doesn't always simply go away during recovery, either. Unfortunately, emergence delirium is associated with the development of problems later down the road, too -- including bed wetting, separation anxiety and new nightmares.

While anxiety is normal before an operation, children who experience extreme anxiety before surgery are more at risk for emergence delirium. In all, about 20 percent of children who undergo surgery experience a period of severe delirium in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) that includes crying, thrashing, screaming and even needing to be put into restraints.

Now a new study just published in the July issue of the journal Anesthesiology reports that giving youngsters oral treatment with melatonin before an operation significantly reduces the occurrence of emergence delirium after the operation. Melatonin is a naturally occurring, light dependent hormone secreted by the pineal gland that is involved in the regulation of moods, sleep and reproductive cycles.