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Thu, 27 Oct 2016
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The Health & Wellness Show: The medical and social implications of gender multiplicity

He, her, ze, zer, gender queer, androgynous, person of transgender experience, two-spirited. It seems that, while gender was once such a simple non-issue, in our crumbling world it's become ridiculously complicated. Phrases like "boys and girls" no longer accepted in classrooms, "men" getting pregnant, $250000 fines for calling someone the wrong gender pronoun and toddlers transitioning to the opposite sex - it's never been more confusing to use a bathroom than in the 21st century. On the other hand, violence, bullying, suicides and even murder of transgendered people is at an all time high. Has political correctness gone too far? Are transgendered people being unfairly discriminated against? Is there a physiological component to gender dysphoria or is it a result of childhood trauma?

Join us as we explore the social, psychological and medical issues surrounding gender fluidity.

And, as always, stay tuned for Zoya's Pet Health Segment where the topic will be animal reproduction.

Running Time: 01:10:12

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Global TB epidemic: WHO reports tuberculosis remains one of top-ten causes of death worldwide, beating HIV and malaria

© Finbarr O'Reilly / Reuters
A patient with tuberculosis sits on a bed in "Tuberculosis Village," a separate health facility at a clinic run by the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), in the town of Nasir in southeastern Sudan
The global tuberculosis epidemic is significantly more serious than previously thought, according to a new World Health Organization (WHO) report that urges nations to "move much faster to prevent, detect, and treat the disease."

The WHO which published its "Global Tuberculosis Report 2016" on Thursday. According to its findings, in 2015, there were an estimated 10.4 million new cases of tuberculosis worldwide, while only 6.1 million were detected and officially registered. The gap of 4.3 million appeared due to the underreporting and under-diagnosing of TB cases in countries with "large unregulated private sectors" and poor healthcare.

Comment: As TB becomes more virulent and almost untreatable with conventional antibiotics; alternative medicine may offer a ray of hope:


Calcium supplementation is neither good for bones nor arteries

© sasimoto / Fotolia
More than half of women over 60 take calcium supplements -- many without the oversight of a physician -- because they believe it will reduce their risk of osteoporosis, researchers estimate.
After analyzing 10 years of medical tests on more than 2,700 people in a federally funded heart disease study, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine and elsewhere conclude that taking calcium in the form of supplements may raise the risk of plaque buildup in arteries and heart damage, although a diet high in calcium-rich foods appears be protective.

In a report on the research, published Oct. 10 in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the researchers caution that their work only documents an association between calcium supplements and atherosclerosis, and does not prove cause and effect.

But they say the results add to growing scientific concerns about the potential harms of supplements, and they urge a consultation with a knowledgeable physician before using calcium supplements. An estimated 43 percent of American adult men and women take a supplement that includes calcium, according the National Institutes of Health.



Rethinking the links between genes and disease

The ExAC database has shown that many mutations thought to be harmful are benign.

One of the major findings of the Exome Aggregation Consortium (ExAC), the largest-ever catalog of genetic variation in the protein-coding regions of the human genome, is that many genetic mutations have been misclassified as harmful (M. Lek et al.Nature 536, 285 - 291; 2016). Authors of that study estimate that each person has lurking in their genome an average of 54 mutations that are currently considered pathogenic — but that about 41 of these occur so frequently in the human population that they aren't in fact likely to cause severe disease. That finding is having major consequences for some people with such variants, lifting the equivalent of genetic death sentences.

Comment: Because it is not just our genes and DNA which determines our health, but also environmental factors such as diet, stresses, and lifestyle choices.
See also:
  • The epigenetics of stress


Neem oil component found effective in reducing prostate tumors

Neem leaves
Neem oil has been valued for centuries for its huge range of medicinal uses. Now Singapore academics have stated that active compounds in the neem plant reduce the size of prostate tumours by up to 70 percent and suppress its spread or metastasis by half.

A team of international researchers led by Associate Professor Gautam Sethi from the Department of Pharmacology at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore (NUS) reported the findings following a 12-week study on mice.

Nimbolide, a bioactive terpenoid compound derived from Azadirachta indica, more commonly known as the neem plant have a direct effect on cancer cells.

Leaf pastes and extracts from the neem plant are used in skin care products, hair treatment, toothpastes, insect repellants, mouth wash, and many other medicinal uses. Many herbalists recommend chewing the leaves, taking capsules of dried leaf, or drinking the bitter tea. The leaves cleanse the blood, help the gastrointestinal system, support the liver, and strengthen the immune system, to name just some of the most popular benefits.

Comment: See also:


Video breakthrough opens door to study hallucinations scientifically

© Shutterstock
Although commonly associated with psychiatric disorders, healthy people can also have visual hallucinations after taking drugs, being sleep deprived or suffering migraines.
A new method for inducing, modelling and measuring visual hallucinations in healthy individuals suggests these complex experiences share a common underlying mechanism with normal visual perception, UNSW researchers say.

Although commonly associated with psychiatric disorders, healthy people can also have visual hallucinations after taking drugs, being sleep deprived or suffering migraines. These involuntary experiences are thought to arise when spontaneous changes in the brain temporarily hijack visual function, but the exact causes and underlying mechanisms aren't fully understood.

"We have known for more than 100 years that flickering light can cause almost anyone to experience a hallucination," says UNSW Associate Professor Joel Pearson from the School of Psychology.

"However, the unpredictability, complexity and personal nature of these hallucinations make them difficult to measure scientifically," he says.
Nobody has been able to do this before, because they haven't been able to overcome this key challenge.


U.S. kids are among the least fit in the world according to British study

© Lev Dolgachov/IStock Photo
U.S. kids would come in near the back of the pack in a global race, research shows.
Cue the sad trombone. America's kids ranked 47 out of 50 countries measuring aerobic fitness — a key factor for overall health — in a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. By comparison, Tanzania, Iceland, Estonia, Norway and Japan raced away with the top five slots. The least fit country: Mexico.

Research teams from the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario and the University of North Dakota analyzed data on more than 1.1 million kids aged 9 to 17. Subjects were evaluated using a multi-stage fitness test also known as the "beep" test. How it works: You run back and forth between two points 66 feet apart to synchronized beeps. The point where you can't reach the line before the beep, that's your level.

Comment: It seems that income inequality has all kinds of detrimental effects on children:

Being poor can change your genes and increase chances of depression, mental illness and drug abuse


The Adderall generation

© Credit Illustration by Chad Wys. Source image from the Getty’s Open Content Program.
“Portrait of Louise de Keroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth,” by Peter Lely.
Like many of my friends, I spent years using prescription stimulants to get through school and start my career. Then I tried to get off them.

Have you ever been to Enfield? I had never even heard of it until I was 23 and living in London for graduate school. One afternoon, I received notification that a package whose arrival I had been anticipating for days had been bogged down in customs and was now in a FedEx warehouse in Enfield, an unremarkable London suburb. I was outside my flat within minutes of receiving this news and on the train to Enfield within the hour, staring through the window at the gray sky. The package in question, sent from Los Angeles, contained my monthly supply of Adderall.

Adderall, the brand name for a mixture of amphetamine salts, is more strictly regulated in Britain than in the United States, where, the year before, in 2005, I became one of the millions of Americans to be prescribed a stimulant medication.

The train to Enfield was hardly the greatest extreme to which I would go during the decade I was entangled with Adderall. I would open other people's medicine cabinets, root through trash cans where I had previously disposed of pills, write friends' college essays for barter. Once, while living in New Hampshire, I skipped a day of work to drive three hours each way to the health clinic where my prescription was still on file. Never was I more resourceful or unswerving than when I was devising ways to secure more Adderall.


New study reveals antidepressants double the risk of suicide and violence

A review of trials of antidepressants taken by healthy adults with no signs of a mental health disorder has found the drugs used to treat the illness doubled the harms related to suicide and violence.

Experts working on the study said the analysis was undertaken because the harms of antidepressants, including the risk of suicide, are often explained away as if they are disease symptoms or only a problem in children.

Professor Peter Gøtzsche, of the Nordic Cochrane Centre and lead author of the study, said: "While it is now generally accepted that antidepressants increase the risk of suicide and violence in children and adolescents, most people believe that these drugs are not dangerous for adults.

"This is a potentially lethal misconception."

He added: "The reporting of harms in drug trials is generally poor.

Comment: Further reading:


Hidden poison: Sugar hides under many different names on food labels

© iStock
Your body gets all the sugar it needs from natural sources in fruits and vegetables. When combined with additional fiber, vitamins and minerals, natural sugar is processed slightly differently than added refined white sugar or the myriad of other names the industry is using to disguise sugar in your food.

Avoiding foods laced with sugar is easier said than done, unless you have switched to a diet of almost exclusively whole foods. Many processed foods come with the addition of sweetener to tempt your palate.

Sugar is one of the most damaging substances to your body and can trigger an addiction that's hard to break. This addiction is rampant in adults and children alike, and is planned for by manufacturers through defining a specific "bliss point" for their products that brings customers back for more.1

This scientific calculation of ingredients designed to make you crave their product may also be your downfall. The truth the junk food industry doesn't want you to know is that sugar has significant and deadly effects on your health. Unfortunately, you may not always know what you're eating.

The Food Label May Not List Sugar

In 1812, people ate approximately 45 grams of sugar every five days.2 That's about the amount in one can of soda. By 2012, most Americans were consuming sugar to the equivalent of 17 cans of soda every five days.

That's a huge jump! Unfortunately, not everyone recognizes they're eating that much sugar, as it hides under names you may not know.

Comment: Processed 'foods' are scientifically engineered to create physical and psychological dependency. Because sugar is naturally so desirable to human beings, many products are loaded with sweeteners in order to boost their appeal, including many well-known foods that never used to be sweet at all, creating an expectation that everything should be sweet.