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Sun, 25 Mar 2018
The World for People who Think

Health & Wellness


'World's largest brain tumour' removed

massive brain tumour
© Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty
Digital scans show Santlal Pal's brain tumour before his operation.
For the past several years, Santlal Pal had been watching a tumour emerge from his skull.

Doctors in India say Pal's brain tumour grew so big that it weighed nearly four pounds (1.8 kg) and measured nearly 8-by-12-by-12 inches (20 by 30 by 30 cm), according to local news reports.

It may have been the largest brain tumour in the world.

But now it is gone: Doctors successfully removed the mass during an intensive, six-hour operation on Valentine's Day.

Comment: Jeebus! It's pretty miraculous that a person can grow a tumor that big, on his brain, no less, and still live to tell the tale. We hope Pal recovers his vision, but even if not, it's still rather miraculous that he's able to live a normal life after such a harrowing experience. See also:


'Every Child Alive' report states: The United States' falls embarrassingly far behind other wealthy countries in infant mortality rates

Eighty percent of our newborn deaths are entirely preventable.

A report by the United Nations' children's rights agency found that the United States' infant mortality rate is below average for high-income countries, and is only slightly lower than that of less economically-stable countries including Ukraine and Sri Lanka.

Four out of every 1,000 American newborns die within a month of being born, while other wealthy nations have an average infant mortality rate of three per 1,000 live births, according to UNICEF's report, entitled "Every Child Alive."

Comment: A national embarrassment: Why is the U.S. infant mortality rate so high?
The United States spends more on health care per capita than any other country and still has one of the highest levels of infant mortality among the world's developed countries? The question is what is going on! This could be why many parents are considering home births safer than hospital births:
The United States has a 32.2 percent C-section rate, a maternal mortality rate of approximately 16 per 100,000 (which means more than 600 women die from childbirth-related causes in America each year), and an infant mortality rate of six deaths for every 1000 live births, a rate so high compared to other developed countries that the Washington Post has called it a "national embarrassment." We also have the highest maternal mortality rate of any country in the industrialized world. Though Flowers tells me they are still compiling the most recent statistics, out of over 2,800 births, The Farm has never lost a mother and have had a single-digit number of infant mortalities.


America's other prescription drug epidemic? Benzodiazepines

I got the call every addiction doctor dreads: A patient of mine nearly overdosed. He had a long history of addiction, starting with opioid pain pills in his teens after a sports injury and progressing to heroin by his early 20s. He had been in recovery for six months.

"Was it heroin?" I asked the doctor, who was calling from the emergency department.

"Not opioids," said the doctor. "Benzos."

"Benzos" is shorthand for benzodiazepines, a class of drugs often used to treat anxiety and insomnia. The dozen or so different types include Ativan, Klonopin, Valium, and Xanax. Most people have heard of them. More people than you might think are taking them (three benzodiazepines are in the top 10 most commonly prescribed psychotropic medications in the United States). Yet few people realize how many people get addicted to and die from them.

Comment: A shadow epidemic: The rising problem of Benzodiazapine addiction


'Experts' declare turmeric just a health fad, despite evidence

turmeric Latte
Turmeric. Is. Everywhere.

It's the latte flavour of the moment - matcha is so 2016 and charcoal hasn't quite hit the mainstream yet - with even Starbucks launching its own version of the spicy drink last autumn.

Health brands and eateries have all jumped on the bandwagon: store shelves are brimming with turmeric teas, capsules, nuts, ghee and more, and eateries are adding the spice to everything from juice shots to cocktails.

Comment: It seems it's rather trendy in journalism to take natural remedies and dismiss them as health fads for hipsters. While most (although not all) of what is said above isn't a complete lie, the general tone of the article, to be dismissive of natural remedies as nothing more than health fads, is disingenuous. Sure, sprinkling a little turmeric in a latte isn't going to cure cancer. But used in a targeted way, under the guidance of those who know what they're doing, it can be a potent medicinal. The bottom line: if you're expecting something you bought at Starbucks to cure you're IBS, there's not much hope for you anyway. See:


The flu is a global threat for which the world is poorly prepared

Flu patient
© Reuters/Mike Blake
Emergency room nurse Christine Bauer treats Joshua Lagade of Vista, California, for the flu as his girlfriend Mayra Mora looks on in the emergency room at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, California on Jan 18, 2018.
A century ago, people woke up ill in the morning and fell dead by evening.

Considered the deadliest pandemic in human history, global influenza infected a third of humanity, killing no less than 50 million and perhaps as many as 100 million people. In one twelve-month period, one out of every 100 people on the planet died from the flu.

The 1918 pandemic disproportionately impacted healthy young adults, ages 20 to 40. Mortality peaked at age 28 years. Young adult men in the military, especially those in close quarters in frontline trenches, were hit hard.

It is estimated that the flu killed more US soldiers and sailors than enemy weapons during World War I. A year after its initial outbreak, the global pandemic had killed more than double the 10 million who had died in World War I.

Comment: While the concept behind vaccines, and the universal vaccine, may be sound (although certainly not without its issues), its implementation remains problematic. As long as Big Pharma is in charge, can we really expect any kind of safety, efficacy or indeed any transparency? For more on the universal flu vaccine, see:


"School exclusion day" bans unvaccinated kids from schools in Oregon

no shots no school
Today is school exclusion day in Oregon. The public school district will be banning children from attending their classes if they are not fully vaccinated.

The word they are looking for here is "segregation." But Oregonians are calling it "School Exclusion Day." As noted by the state's Health Authority, "parents must provide schools, child care facilities with kids' vaccine records". If their "records on file show missing immunizations," their "children will not be able to attend school or child care" from this date forth.

Comment: Read more about Unvaccinated Kids Barred From Attending School: Important information to consider:


Schizophrenia a side effect of human development?

A false colour image of a brain of a person with schizophrenia. Credit: NIH
A false colour image of a brain of a person with schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia may have evolved as an "unwanted side effect" of the development of the complex human brain, a new study has found.

The study identified changed gene expression in the area of the brain that is most different between humans and animals, including our closest species, non-human primates.

Published in Schizophrenia, the study was undertaken by a group of researchers from Swinburne, The Florey Institute of Neuroscience & Mental Health and University of Melbourne. It reveals major changes in gene expression in the frontal area of the brains of those with schizophrenia.

"This is the area of our brain that evolved latest and most sets us apart from other species," says Professor Brian Dean of Swinburne's Centre for Mental Health and the Florey Institute.

Comment: See Also:


Death toll from listeria outbreak in South Africa reaches 172, more than doubling previous numbers

The death toll from an outbreak of the food-borne disease listeria in South Africa has more than doubled from previous numbers given in January to 172 deaths, the government said on Thursday.

The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) said 915 cases of the disease have been confirmed since January last year, up from the previous figures given last month of 61 deaths and 720 confirmed outbreaks.

The government said the source of the outbreak was still unknown.

Comment: For more on listeria, see:


Largest observational study to date finds alcohol use biggest risk factor for dementia

© pathdoc / Fotolia
Alcohol use disorders are the most important preventable risk factors for the onset of all types of dementia, especially early-onset dementia. This according to a nationwide observational study, published in The Lancet Public Health journal, of over one million adults diagnosed with dementia in France.

This study looked specifically at the effect of alcohol use disorders, and included people who had been diagnosed with mental and behavioural disorders or chronic diseases that were attributable to chronic harmful use of alcohol.

Of the 57,000 cases of early-onset dementia (before the age of 65), the majority (57%) were related to chronic heavy drinking.

Comment: The contradictory information about alcohol consumption continues to confuse as it seems to defy being nailed down. Is this stuff good or bad for us? Obviously the amount of alcohol consumed seems to be one of the keys to whether it's a health tonic or poison, but it would be nice to have some definitive information on the subject. See:


Study of "superagers" show anatomically different brains

superagers older woman
© Getty Images
It's pretty extraordinary for people in their 80s and 90s to keep the same sharp memory as someone several decades younger, and now scientists are peeking into the brains of these "superagers" to uncover their secret.

The work is the flip side of the disappointing hunt for new drugs to fight or prevent Alzheimer's disease.

Instead, "why don't we figure out what it is we might need to do to maximize our memory?" said neuroscientist Emily Rogalski, who leads the SuperAging study at Chicago's Northwestern University.

Comment: It's quite telling that the research seems to be setting "superagers" apart as having some sort of predisposition to maintaining their memory, completely divorced from what one would think would be the most important aspect - how they think.

See also: