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Sat, 19 Oct 2019
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Health

Football tackles schizophrenia and depression

An Italian psychiatrist is obtaining startling results with patients suffering from schizophrenia and depression by enlisting them in a competitive football team. Mauro Raffaeli trains his players, many of whom cannot work and are on psychiatric medication, twice a week on a pitch on the outskirts of Rome.

Of the 80 who have passed through the ranks since the team formed in 1993, over half have cut down their drug intake, but more importantly, more than half have returned to work. "Drugs you can often never get rid of, but reintegrating into society is as important," he said.

Pills

Psychiatric Drugs and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America

Excerpts from Robert Whitaker's Anatomy of an Epidemic: Psychiatric Drugs and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America published in Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol. 7, Number 1, Spring 2005

Excerpted, with minimal editing, by Gary G. Kohls, MD, Duluth, MN

Pills

Cheer up, girls - antidepressant pill could be a female Viagra

Trials have begun on a sex drug that works directly on the pleasure zones of a woman's brain to restore flagging libido.

If successful, flibanserin - developed by the German pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim - could become the "female Viagra".

Question

Organic food is no better, says minister

Organic food may be no better for you than mass-produced farm food, according to the cabinet minister responsible for the industry.

David Miliband, the environment secretary, says organic produce, which is usually more expensive, is a "lifestyle choice" with no hard evidence that it is healthier.

Comment: Of course he wouldn't want to admit that 96% of the food produce is not fit to eat!


Health

When Bad Things Come From 'Good' Food

People in the United States have gotten used to the repulsive fact that raw chicken, meat and eggs are often contaminated with dangerous bacteria. Scrub the cutting board, we are warned, don't nibble the cookie dough, don't eat burgers rare. In other words, handle meat like a biohazard �" and then eat it.

Eye 1

A Surprising Secret to a Long Life: Stay in School

James Smith, a health economist at the RAND Corporation, has heard a variety of hypotheses about what it takes to live a long life - money, lack of stress, a loving family, lots of friends. But he has been a skeptic.

Attention

Pig Hearts for Humans: What the Public Needs to Know About Biotech Risks

In her new book, Intervention, former NY Times technology columnist Denise Caruso talks about the risks of life on a genetically engineered planet.

Comment: Reminds me of "The Island of Dr. Moreau." Brrrrr...


Laptop

Free Will: Now You Have It, Now You Don't

I was a free man until they brought the dessert menu around. There was one of those molten chocolate cakes, and I was suddenly being dragged into a vortex, swirling helplessly toward caloric doom, sucked toward the edge of a black (chocolate) hole. Visions of my father's heart attack danced before my glazed eyes. My wife, Nancy, had a resigned look on her face.

The outcome, endlessly replayed whenever we go out, is never in doubt, though I often cover my tracks by offering to split my dessert with the table. O.K., I can imagine what you're thinking. There but for the grace of God.

Having just lived through another New Year's Eve, many of you have just resolved to be better, wiser, stronger and richer in the coming months and years. After all, we're free humans, not slaves, robots or animals doomed to repeat the same boring mistakes over and over again. As William James wrote in 1890, the whole "sting and excitement" of life comes from "our sense that in it things are really being decided from one moment to another, and that it is not the dull rattling off of a chain that was forged innumerable ages ago." Get over it, Dr. James. Go get yourself fitted for a new chain-mail vest. A bevy of experiments in recent years suggest that the conscious mind is like a monkey riding a tiger of subconscious decisions and actions in progress, frantically making up stories about being in control.

As a result, physicists, neuroscientists and computer scientists have joined the heirs of Plato and Aristotle in arguing about what free will is, whether we have it, and if not, why we ever thought we did in the first place.

Bad Guys

Patients die as Sicilian mafia buys into the hospital service

A wave of deaths in Sicilian hospitals has highlighted a crisis in the island's health service, linked by a senior politician to the draining of public funds by the mafia.

Three suspicious deaths of patients in three days over Christmas have raised alarm. A 78-year-old woman died of a heart attack in a Palermo emergency ward on December 28 after waiting four hours to be seen. The ward has no triage, or system for prioritising patients.

Health

Scientists find way to slash cost of drugs

Indian-backed approach could aid poor nations and cut NHS bills

Two UK-based academics have devised a way to invent new medicines and get them to market at a fraction of the cost charged by big drug companies, enabling millions in poor countries to be cured of infectious diseases and potentially slashing the NHS drugs bill.