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Wed, 24 Jul 2019
The World for People who Think

Health & Wellness


Strain of common cold virus could revolutionise treatment of bladder cancer - Study

A strain of the common cold virus has been found to potentially target, infect and destroy cancer cells in patients with bladder cancer, a new study in the medical journal Clinical Cancer Research reports. No trace of the cancer was found in one patient following treatment with the virus.
© Getty Images
Researchers from the University of Surrey and Royal Surrey County Hospital investigated the safety and tolerability of exposure to the oncolytic ('cancer-killing') virus coxsackievirus (CVA21), a naturally occurring strain of the common cold, in fifteen patients with non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC). NMIBC is found in the tissue of the inner surface of the bladder and is the tenth most common cancer in the UK with approximately 10,000 people each year diagnosed with the illness.

Current treatments for this cancer are problematic. Transurethral resection, an invasive procedure that removes all visible lesions, has a high tumour recurrence rate ranging from 50 per cent to 70 per cent as well as a high tumour progression rate between 10 per cent and 20 per cent over a period of two to five years. Another common course of treatment, immunotherapy with Bacille Calmette-Guerin, a live bacterium used to treat bladder cancer, has been found to have serious side effects in one third of NMIBC patients while one third do not respond to the treatment at all.


Freedom to dissent and the new blacklist in America

blacklist keyboard button
Every July 4 since our nation declared independence in 1776, Americans have celebrated this truth:
...that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." 1
The Declaration of Independence rejected unjust laws imposed by a privileged ruling class. The guiding principles of the Declaration of Independence were codified into the Bill of Rights to limit the power of government and protect our unalienable natural rights.

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The Seeds of Agroecology and Common Ownership

Institute for European Environmental Policy
© Institute for European Environmental Policy
The increasingly globalized industrial food system that transnational agribusiness promotes is not feeding the world and is responsible for some of the planet's most pressing political, social and environmental crises. Localised, traditional methods of food production have given way to globalised supply chains dominated by transnational companies policies and actions which have resulted in the destruction of habitat and livelihoods and the imposition of corporate-controlled, chemical-intensive (monocrop) agriculture that weds farmers and regions to a wholly exploitative system of neoliberal globalisation.

Whether it involves the undermining or destruction of what were once largely self-sufficient agrarian economies in Africa or the devastating impacts of soy cultivation in Argentina or palm oil production in Indonesia, transnational agribusiness and global capitalism cannot be greenwashed.

In their rush to readily promote neoliberal dogma and corporate PR, many take as given that profit-driven transnational corporations have a legitimate claim to be custodians of natural assets. There is the premise that water, seeds, land, food, soil and agriculture should be handed over to powerful, corrupt transnational corporations to milk for profit, under the pretense these entities are somehow serving the needs of humanity.

These natural assets ('the commons') belong to everyone and any stewardship should be carried out in the common interest by local people assisted by public institutions and governments acting on their behalf, not by private transnational corporations driven by self-interest and the maximization of profit by any means possible.

Comment: Agroecology: Bringing farming back to nature

Bacon n Eggs

Genes, yes, but obesity pandemic mostly down to diet: study

stop obesity
A three-fold jump since 1975 in the percentage of adults worldwide who are obese has been driven mainly by a shift in diet and lack of exercise, but genes do play a role as well, according a large-scale study published Thursday.

For people genetically predisposed to a wider girth, these unhealthy lifestyles compounded the problem, resulting in an even higher rate of weight gain, researchers reported in The BMJ, a peer-reviewed medical journal.

The standard measure for obesity, the Body-Mass Index (BMI), is calculated on the basis of weight and height.

Comment: As this study shows, contrary to what the genetic determinists state, genetics is only part of the picture. Even those unfortunate enough to have the 'obesity gene(s)' are capable of counteracting this through diet and lifestyle. The same can be said of any number of genes for different conditions and diseases. Your genes are not necessarily your fate.

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Why so many of us don't lose weight when we exercise

exercise jogging running
© Jeenah Moon for The New York Times
People hoping to lose weight with exercise often wind up being their own worst enemies, according to the latest, large-scale study of workouts, weight loss and their frustrating interaction. The study, which carefully tracked how much people ate and moved after starting to exercise, found that many of them failed to lose or even gained weight while exercising, because they also reflexively changed their lives in other, subtle ways. But a few people in the study did drop pounds, and their success could have lessons for the rest of us.

In a just and cogent universe, of course, exercise would make us thin. Physical activity consumes calories, and if we burn calories without replacing them or reducing our overall energy expenditure, we enter negative energy balance. In that condition, we utilize our internal energy stores, which most of us would call our flab, and shed weight.

But human metabolisms are not always just and cogent, and multiple past studies have shown that most men and women who begin new exercise routines drop only about 30 percent or 40 percent as much weight as would be expected, given how many additional calories they are expending with exercise.

Comment: People hoping to lose weight with exercise would do better to pay attention to the type of exercise they're doing rather than counting calories and restricting food. The idea that body composition is related to calorie input-output is completely outdated, despite the fact that researchers still waste their time with studies based on this model. Weight loss through exercise needs to involve muscle building through resistance training, thereby raising metabolic rate. Trying to lose weight by 'burning calories' is a lost cause.

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Cholesterol that is too LOW may boost risk for hemorrhagic stroke

cholesterol molecule
© RedAndr/Wikipedia
Space-filling model of the Cholesterol molecule.
Current guidelines recommend lowering cholesterol for heart disease risk reduction. New findings indicate that if cholesterol dips too low, it may boost the risk of hemorrhagic stroke, according to researchers.

Over a period of nine years, a Penn State-led study examined the relationship between low-density lipoprotein cholesterol — LDL, commonly known as "bad" cholesterol — and hemorrhagic stroke. This type of stroke occurs when a blood vessel bursts in the brain.

The researchers found that participants with LDL cholesterol levels below 70 mg/dL had a higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke.

Comment: Once again proving that the people making the ideal target numbers for cholesterol levels have absolutely no idea what they're doing.

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So you're a vegan ... but are you, really?

Matthew Evans
© Alan Benson
There's a lot to be said for veganism. For the thinking eater, it gets around a whole bunch of ethical grey areas. If you care about what you put in your mouth, it is probably the most black and white way to approach the whole meat thing. There are no grey areas about so-called "ethical" meat, or questions over exactly how "free range" are the hens when there are 10,000 chickens to the ­hectare. Not eating meat, not buying products that come from animals — surely that means you're doing better not only for those animals directly affected, but also the environment, and your health? But while veganism is on the rise in Western nations, it's still far from mainstream. Why, then, is it so hard to convince people of its worth if it really is a win all round? The vegan philosophy is, at its heart, quite often about ­reducing suffering. By not eating ­animals, you — by definition — reduce suffering. It's a lovely idea. And I wish it were that simple.

Let's start with peas. Collydean (not its real name, but a real farm) is a 2700ha mixed farm in northern Tasmania. They grow beef cattle, some sheep, do agroforestry, have barley and some years grow peas. A lot of peas: about 400 tonnes a season. And to protect the peas, they have some wildlife fences, but also have to shoot a lot of ­animals. When I was there, they had a licence to kill about 150 deer. They routinely kill about 800-1000 ­possums and 500 wallabies every year, along with a few ducks. (To its credit, Collydean only invites hunters onto its farm who will use the animals they kill — for human food, or for pet food — and not leave them in the paddock, as most ­animals killed for crop protection are.) So, more than 1500 animals die each year to grow about 75ha of peas for our freezers. That's not 1500 rodents, which also die, and which some may see as collateral damage. That's mostly warm-blooded animals of the cute kind, with a few birds thrown in.

Comment: When one looks at each of the claims vegans make to justify a meat-free existence, one by one, we see that it's nothing but a house of cards, vulnerable to the slightest breeze. Veganism alleviates animal suffering? Not even close. And even by their own 'carbon = bad' narrative, meat eating is still better for the environment than mass mono-cropping. Veganism is essentially a religion peddling easy answers to problems far more complex than what the orthodoxy would have you believe.

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Drug prices in 2019 are surging, with hikes at 5 times inflation

generic drugs pills
Price hikes on prescription drugs are surging in 2019, despite vows from lawmakers and the Trump administration to rein in pharmaceutical costs.

So far in 2019, more than 3,400 drugs have boosted their prices, a 17% increase compared with the roughly 2,900 drug price increases at the same time in 2018, according to a new analysis by Rx Savings Solutions, a consultant to health plans and employers.

The average price hike for those 3,400 drugs stands at 10.5%, or about 5 times the rate of inflation, the study found. About 41 drugs have boosted their prices by more than 100%, including one version of the antidepressant fluoxetine -- also known as Prozac -- whose cost has surged 879%, Rx Savings Solutions said.

Comment: With the cost of pharmaceuticals going through the roof, perhaps more and more people will turn to alternative methods of healing. There's an entire world of healing modalities outside the mainstream pharmaceutical paradigm that can be highly effective. But it's important for all to do their due diligence on researching proper treatment protocols.

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New York Times' story on Lyme misses the bullseye

bullseye rash Lyme
© Getty
This bull's eye rash, characteristic of Lyme disease, may be seen in fewer than half of patients.
An article appeared in this week's New York Times, "My Son Got Lyme Disease. He's Totally Fine. Horror stories about lingering Lyme disease proliferate, but the illness is easily treated." While I am delighted that author Apoorva Mandavilli's son had a good outcome, I feel a need to respond to aspects of the story that I, a Board Certified Infectious Diseases physician who lives in a Lyme endemic area and has had Lyme, found misleading and disturbing.

Neither the author's experience — nor that of the pediatrician she quotes as "never had a complication from Lyme" — matches mine. Mandavilli says, "many people view Lyme — wrongly — as a debilitating, chronic illness instead of what it is: An easily treated infection with no long-term consequences for children, or even the vast majority of adults."

I understand that there are a spectrum of patients with Lyme.

Comment: See also:


Austrian parliament backs EU's first total ban of weedkiller glyphosate

© REUTERS/Mike Blake
Monsanto Co's Roundup is shown for sale in Encinitas, California, U.S., June 26, 2017.
Austria's lower house of parliament passed a bill on Tuesday banning all uses of the weedkiller glyphosate, the first time a European Union country has taken such strong action against the chemical over concerns that it can cause cancer.

Other EU countries have passed partial bans of glyphosate, developed by Bayer-owned Monsanto, although France has lowered its ambitions on a ban, highlighting its usefulness in agriculture. Austria has embraced organic farming more than other EU member state.

"The scientific evidence of the plant poison's carcinogenic effect is increasing. It is our responsibility to ban this poison from our environment," the leader of Austria's Social Democrats, Pamela Rendi-Wagner, said in a statement.

Comment: It's nice to see at least some countries have politicians who care about the public they represent instead of toeing the corporate line, citizens be damned. Let's hope other countries follow suit.

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