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Health Archive

Sunday, June 08, 2003

Deadly spread of cancer halted - New Scientist: The spread of cancers through the body could be halted by targeting a protein that helps cells latch on to each other, reveals a new study. The spreading of cancer from an initial tumour to other parts of the body - called metastasis - frequently means there is little hope a person can be saved. But scientists have now modified a naturally occurring human protein to disrupt this deadly process in mouse models of human breast cancer.

Bill Moyers interviews Bill Gates | PBS: I actually get angry when people try and justify these health things in economic terms. You know like you'll read a paper that says, you know, "If malaria was cured, the GNP of this country would be 30 percent higher."
    That gets it so backwards. I mean it's true. Statistically it's true and I suppose there're some audiences that you've got to use that argument. But... wealth is a tool to measure human welfare. It's just a tool that we created to help us sort of incentivize people and help get things done.
    If death doesn't get reflected in GNP, then that doesn't mean it's unimportant. If the suffering in malaria doesn't get reflected in those numbers, it's still very important. So we shouldn't have to resort to these economic arguments. 
  Some people resort to security arguments. They say, "If we don't cure these diseases, the instability in these countries will be bad. And, you know, that could be scary." Or they resort to the, you know, "It's coming to your neighborhood argument." That, you know, somebody could get on a plane from one of these places and, you know, you might get sick. I mean don't worry about these people, but you might get sick. 
   And those, you know, those arguments, if they get more money for world health, then fine. I won't object. But they're wrong. The right argument is, you know, this mother's child is sick. And that child's life is no less valuable than the life of anyone else. And the world has plenty of resources to go solve these problems. 
   ... For the U.S. to do its fair share, we'd have to take the $6 per citizen that is spent on foreign health issues and we'd have to raise that to $30 to $40.
   And if other rich countries did their part, then there would be the money to give the vaccines, to create the new vaccines. To give oral rehydration therapy. To have the education in the villages. You know then the whole picture of health would change quite dramatically.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Scientists have a good feeling about exercise: regular exercise may be as effective as medication for some people with depression. A growing body of evidence supports this boost to psychological well-being, but the exact mechanisms are not completely understood.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Cutbacks Imperil Health Coverage for States' Poor: Millions of low-income Americans face the loss of health insurance or sharp cuts in benefits, like coverage for prescription drugs and dental care, under proposals now moving through state legislatures around the country. State officials and health policy experts say the cuts will increase the number of uninsured, threaten recent progress in covering children and impose severe strains on hospitals, doctors and nursing homes. But those officials, confronting a third straight year of fiscal crisis, say they have no choice but to rein in Medicaid, the fast-growing program that provides health insurance for 50 million people. Many state officials are pleading for federal help as they face an array of painful trade-offs, often pitting the needs of impoverished elderly people for prescription drugs and long-term care against those of low-income families seeking basic health coverage.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Uranium Medical Research Centre - Depleted Uranium impact in Afghanistan: The UMRC field team was shocked by the breadth of public health impacts coincident with the bombing. Without exception, at every bombsite investigated, people are ill. A significant portion of the civilian population presents symptoms consistent with internal contamination by Uranium.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Nationwide Inquiry at Veterans' Hospitals: "The Bush administration has ordered a nationwide review of medical research at 115 veterans' hospitals and has halted some studies after investigators found serious violations of federal rules, including some that may have contributed to the deaths of patients. The Department of Veterans Affairs said it was investigating the deaths of patients in research projects at hospitals in Detroit, Albany and Fargo, N.D. The department also said it had found "serious noncompliance" with federal rules at its hospitals in Pittsburgh; Providence, R.I.; Martinez, Calif.; and Long Beach, Calif, and detected problems at hospitals in Northampton, Mass., and Portland, Ore."

Friday, April 04, 2003

China Yields Data on Mystery Illness Reluctantly: "SARS has presented these same kinds of officials with a similar choice -- to save people or save face with their bosses -- and until recently they chose the latter."

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

The Weapon We Gave Iraq - Depleted Uranium: "Iraqi researchers say that the epicentre ("Ground Zero") for DU effects is around the city of Basra, in southern Iraq. It was here, in 1991, that U.S. and coalition jets ravaged the retreating Iraqi army, leaving behind the smoldering hulks of thousands of vehicles. The U.S. and British air forces expended an estimated 300 tonnes of depleted-uranium ammunition in and around this area; it has since been dubbed the "Highway of Death."
   The preponderance of birth defects among children born in the Basra region over the past decade defies explanation....
   Should U.S.-led forces again invade Iraq, and should Canadians join them (something that has not been ruled out by Defence Minister John McCallum), they would probably move from Kuwait straight up the Highway of Death to Basra. The aerosol from the depleted-uranium-coated shells has long since dissipated from the hulks of Iraqi vehicles along the road. But Iraqi scientists believe the particles remain in the desert sands. Uranium possesses a radioactive half-life of 200 million years; it would still pose a serious risk.
   Despite increasing evidence linking DU to degenerative health disorders, the British and U.S. militaries steadfastly refuse to suspend their use of such weapons."

Friday, January 10, 2003

Injections counteract psoriasis in patients: Science News Online, Jan. 4, 2003: "Injections of an immune system protein called interleukin-4 can alleviate skin problems in people with psoriasis."

Saturday, December 28, 2002

Automakers Block Crash Data Recorders: "Highway safety could be vastly improved if black boxes that record information about car crashes were standardized, experts say, but they contend that vehement objections from the automobile industry are thwarting efforts to set a standard."

Saturday, December 21, 2002

US blocks cheap drugs agreement: "The deal was agreed by 143 countries. The United States has blocked an international agreement to allow poor countries to buy cheap drugs. This means millions of poor people will still not have access to medicines for diseases such as HIV/Aids, malaria and tuberculosis. US negotiators say the deal would allow too many drugs patents to be ignored. "

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Military Seeking Ways to Skip Sleep: "To strive toward creating the no-sleep soldier, DARPA has funded a multi-tiered program from tinkering with a soldier's brain using magnetic resonance to analyzing the neural circuits of birds that stay awake for days during migration. The hope is to stump the body's need for sleep -- at least temporarily."

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

The Heavy Cost of Chronic Stress: "Prolonged or severe stress has been shown to weaken the immune system, strain the heart, damage memory cells in the brain and deposit fat at the waist rather than the hips and buttocks (a risk factor for heart disease, cancer and other illnesses), said Dr. Bruce S. McEwen, director of the neuroendocrinology laboratory at the Rockefeller University and the author of a new book, "The End of Stress as We Know It." Stress has been implicated in aging, depression, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, among other illnesses." [detailed summary of recent research]

Doctors Rethinking Treatments for Sick Sinuses: "The disillusionment with surgery occurs as recognition is increasing that other common remedies for chronic sinus disease like antibiotics, steroids, antihistamines and decongestants also are falling short of expectations. Researchers say they are beginning to suspect that they have to rethink the underlying causes. Instead of allergies and infections, long considered the primary culprits, doctors are asking why sinuses become sick in the first place. Increasingly, they are looking at inflammation or the responses of the immune system."

Run or Walk by the Book:
Running: The Athlete Within, by Dr. David Costill and Dr. Scott Trappe.
The Complete Runner's Day-by-Day Log and Calendar, by John Jerome.
The Complete Walker IV, by Colin Fletcher and Chip Rawlins. 
"These three books are excellent for anyone interested in running or walking. Taken as a whole, they cover every aspect of each activity "

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

A Terrifying Video Becomes a Best Seller: "ANSON W. SCHLOAT, the president of Human Relations Media, has an unexpected hit on his hands, a 26-minute video called "Dying High: Teens in the ER," which has become the hot teaching tool in Westchester County."

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Statins: Miracles for Some, Menace for a Few: "hailed as miracle drugs for their ability to prevent deaths from heart attacks by lowering cholesterol... but... sometimes cause serious side effects. The most serious involves the muscles, a disorder called rhabdomyolysis, rare but debilitating and deadly if not detected in its early stages."

Treatments: Calming Agitation in Alzheimer's: "Aromatherapy using lavender oil or lemon balm appears to help calm agitation in patients with severe cases of Alzheimer's disease, according to a review of several studies"

Monday, December 09, 2002

Don't Blame Columbus for All the Indians' Ills: "the general health of Native Americans had apparently been deteriorating for centuries before 1492. That is the conclusion of a team of anthropologists, economists and paleopathologists who have completed a wide-ranging study of the health of people living in the Western Hemisphere in the last 7,000 years. The researchers, whose work is regarded as the most comprehensive yet, say their findings in no way diminish the dreadful impact Old World diseases had on the people of the New World. But it suggests that the New World was hardly a healthful Eden....
  researchers attributed the widespread decline in health in large part to the rise of agriculture and urban living. People in South and Central America began domesticating crops more than 5,000 years ago, and the rise of cities there began more than 2,000 years ago.
  These were mixed blessings. Farming tended to limit the diversity of diets, and the congestion of towns and cities contributed to the rapid spread of disease. In the widening inequalities of urban societies, hard work on low-protein diets left most people vulnerable to illness and early death."

Thursday, December 05, 2002

Eating less for longevity: "Reduce an animal's intake of calories by 30% and it will live 30% longer than those on an ordinary diet. Now scientists want to know if the same severely restricted diet that has produced dramatic results in laboratory experiments in animals will work in humans. In September, the National Institute on Aging began scientific trials involving about 200 people at three locations in Louisiana, Massachusetts and Missouri. "

Buyers looking for safety are driving in the wrong lane | "Sport utility vehicles are a menace. As these off-road behemoths that never go off road replace cars, the result on American highways will be "mayhem," according to an exposé titled "High and Mighty," by Keith Bradsher. "

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Study Suggests Mercury in Vaccine Was Not Harmful: "small but groundbreaking study of infants who received vaccines containing a mercury-based preservative has found that the levels of mercury in their blood were well within federal safety limits. The study, reported on Saturday in the British medical journal The Lancet, also found that infants excrete the mercury much faster than expected, suggesting that it does not build up from one vaccination to the next."

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Dietary Advice Takes On Mediterranean Flavor: "a diet like the one consumed by heart-healthy people along the Mediterranean: rich in vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts, unsaturated vegetable oils and protein derived from fish, beans and chicken, not red meat. "Compelling" evidence for this view was thoroughly reviewed last week in The Journal of the American Medical Association by Dr. Frank B. Hu and Dr. Walter C. Willett, nutrition and epidemiology experts at the Harvard School of Public Health, who have followed tens of thousands of Americans for decades to uncover relationships between diet, habits and health."

Sunday, December 01, 2002

Eating meat 'may still pose CJD risk': "Muscle and flesh of cattle and sheep may harbour deadly levels of prions that cause variant CJD. This stark prospect, raised by the Nobel Prize winner who first discovered that these infective particles can cause brain illnesses, suggests eating meat may still pose a serious health risk. The prospect that a timebomb may still be ticking in our kitchens was raised by Stanley Prusiner, who revealed yesterday that experiments at the University of California in San Francisco had shown that scrapie-infected mice have unexpectedly high concentrations of prions in their muscles. "

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Justice Dept. Seeks to Seal Vaccine Papers: "Lawyers for the families said they were outraged by today's move. They said the government was trying to prevent families from obtaining damaging information about the preservative, which could later be used against drug companies in civil courts."

Monday, November 25, 2002

Whose Hands Are Dirty?: Bob Herbert "Last week the Senate approved legislation to establish a Department of Homeland Security and it will soon be signed into law by the president. Buried in this massive bill, snuck into it in the dark of night by persons unknown (actually, it's fair to say by Republican persons unknown), was a provision that -- incredibly -- will protect Eli Lilly and a few other big pharmaceutical outfits from lawsuits by parents who believe their children were harmed by thimerosal. Now this has nothing to do with homeland security. Nothing. This is not a provision that will in any way protect us from the ferocious evil of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. So why is it there? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the major drug companies have become a gigantic collective cash machine for politicians, and that the vast majority of that cash goes to Republicans. Or maybe it's related to the fact that Mitch Daniels, the White House budget director, is a former Eli Lilly big shot. Or the very convenient fact that just last June President Bush appointed Eli Lilly's chairman, president and C.E.O., Sidney Taurel, to a coveted seat on the president's Homeland Security Advisory Council."

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Nurses' Association Says in Study that Big Hospital Chain Overcharges Patients for Drugs: "Tenet Healthcare, already under scrutiny for receiving unusually high Medicare payments in recent years, apparently charged patients high prices for drugs as well, according to a new analysis by the California Nurses Association to be released tomorrow. In recent years, Tenet-owned hospitals have raised their drug prices to roughly eight times actual costs, the association said. Tenet, one of the nation's largest commercial hospital chains, has come under intense scrutiny for the unusual amount of special Medicare payments it has received in recent years. By raising prices sharply at some of its hospitals, particularly in California, Tenet received hundreds of millions of dollars in special payments. "

Saturday, November 23, 2002

Madison Ave. Plays Growing Role in Drug Research: "The three largest advertising companies -- Omnicom, Interpublic and WPP -- have spent tens of millions of dollars to buy or invest in companies like Scirex that perform clinical trials of experimental drugs. One advertising executive calls it "getting closer to the test tube." Ad agency executives say they do nothing to distort the research process. But critics worry that science is being sacrificed for the sake of promotion.... Dr. Thomas Bodenheimer of the University of California at San Francisco has been critical of drug company involvement in clinical trials."

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Study Says a Protein May Be Better Than Cholesterol in Predicting Heart Disease Risk: "inexpensive blood test for a protein linked to artery disease may be better than a cholesterol test at predicting a person's risk for a heart attack or stroke, researchers are reporting today. The test, for the substance, C-reactive protein, may help identify people who have an increased risk even though they do not have high cholesterol. About half of the people with heart disease have normal cholesterol levels"

The Kind of Noise That Keeps a Body on Balance: "In a series of experiments, healthy 75-year-olds stood on a platform that transmitted randomly varying vibrations to the soles of their feet. With these good vibrations, the subjects reflexively adjusted their balance until they swayed about the same amount as 25-year-olds who did not receive the random signals. Younger people who used the vibrating system also swayed less. James J. Collins, a professor of biomedical engineering who led the research group, attributed the improvement to stochastic resonance, a well-known phenomenon in which random noise enhances the detection of weak signals. In this case the noise made the nerves in the feet more sensitive and better able to detect the kinds of pressure changes that occur when the body goes slightly out of balance and puts more pressure on one part of the foot."

Monday, November 11, 2002

The Not-So-Crackpot Autism Theory: "Halsey attended a meeting to discuss thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative that at the time was being used in several vaccines -- including the hepatitis B shot that Halsey had fought so hard to have administered to American babies. By the time the dust kicked up in that meeting had settled, Halsey would be forced to reckon with the hypothesis that thimerosal had damaged the brains of immunized infants and may have contributed to the unexplained explosion in the number of cases of autism being diagnosed in children. That Halsey was willing even to entertain this possibility enraged some of his fellow vaccinologists, who couldn't fathom how a doctor who had spent so much energy dismantling the arguments of people who attacked vaccines could now be changing sides. But to Halsey's mind, his actions were perfectly consistent: he was simply working from the data. And the numbers deeply troubled him. ''From the beginning, I saw thimerosal as something different,'' he says. ''It was the first strong evidence of a causal association with neurological impairment. I was very concerned.'' "

An Animal's Place: "The industrialization -- and dehumanization -- of American animal farming is a relatively new, evitable and local phenomenon: no other country raises and slaughters its food animals quite as intensively or as brutally as we do. Were the walls of our meat industry to become transparent, literally or even figuratively, we would not long continue to do it this way. Tail-docking and sow crates and beak-clipping would disappear overnight, and the days of slaughtering 400 head of cattle an hour would come to an end. For who could stand the sight? Yes, meat would get more expensive. We'd probably eat less of it, too, but maybe when we did eat animals, we'd eat them with the consciousness, ceremony and respect they deserve. "

Beyond Anger: Studying the Subconscious Nature of Rage: "The popular notion is that rage is an undesirable but completely controllable emotion. As with drug abuse, the theory goes, one can just say no to it; take an anger management course and get a grip. But what many people don't realize is that the human brain comes hard-wired for anger and rage. There is strong recent evidence from neuroscience that people share this ancient emotional neural circuitry with all kinds of animals....  Dr. Maurizio Fava of Harvard Medical School has reported that up to 40 percent of depressed patients experience anger attacks, which subside in about 70 percent of the subjects who are successfully treated."

Monday, October 14, 2002

Duct tape zaps warts: "patients wore duct tape over their warts for six days. They removed the tape and used an abrasive on the spot. The tape was reapplied, and treatment continued for two months or until the wart went away. The tape irritated the warts, and that apparently caused the immune system to attack them. "

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

  A squad of American soldiers was patrolling the Iraqi border, when they came across a badly mangled dead body. As they got closer, they found it was an Iraqi soldier.
  A short distance up the road, they found a badly mangled American soldier in a ditch on the other side of the road, struggling to breathe. They ran to him, cradled his bruised head and asked him what had happened.
  "Well," he whispered, "I was walking down this road, armed to the teeth when I came across this heavily armed Iraqi border guard. I looked him right in the eye and shouted, 'Saddam Hussein is a moronic, deceitful, lying piece of trash!'"
  "He looked me right in the eye and shouted back, 'George W. Bush is a moronic, deceitful, lying piece of trash too!'"
  "We were standing there shaking hands when the truck hit us."

Sunday, August 25, 2002

Alzheimer's in America: The Aluminum - Phosphate Fertilizer Connection: "The phosphate fertilizer industry seems to be the common thread in Alzheimer's - and maybe also in thyroid and mad cow type diseases. Aluminum by itself may not cause Alzheimer's, but in combination with the radioactive products of the phosphate fertilizer industry, it could be wreaking havoc on our health." [Provocative commentary, but jumbled and hard to evaluate.]

Friday, July 12, 2002

The Anthrax Files: "When someone expert in bio-warfare mailed anthrax last fall, it may not have been the first time he had struck. So while the F.B.I. has been unbelievably lethargic in its investigation so far, any year now it will re-examine the package that arrived on April 24, 1997, at the B'nai B'rith headquarters in Washington D.C."

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Hormone Replacement Study a Shock to the Medical System

Collected by Jonathan March with Radio Userland software