Saturday, February 19, 2011


For my 100th post I have chosen a topic near and dear to me-- Our Health; how to maintain it, improve it and most importantly how to avoid anything that could have a negative effect on it.

Ever since the government created the stampede to convert and eliminate use of incandescent bulbs in favor of compact fluorescent (CF) bulbs there have been lots of rumblings over their safety.  The latest concern has to do with the effects of UV for people with Lupus and other autoimmune diseases of which there are over a million persons in Canada and of that 100,000 to 150,000 are Lupus sufferers.

 Dr. Janis McCaffrey has Lupus and believes UV can trigger flare ups that can have "devastating" health implications, says the B.C. family physician.

"Health Canada has issued a warning on its website saying persons with lupus or other autoimmune diseases and certain skin conditions might be sensitive to ultraviolet radiation from fluorescent bulbs.  It says persons who believe they are suffering symptoms associated with UV should consult their doctor," she said.
"But I have been unable to find out any further information to either quantify or qualify what they are saying."
She is concerned that there is no labelling of health risks or how much adverse radiation people can expect from the new CFs.  She has contacted Health Canada for access to the research material that prompted the warning, but said Health Canada has been unable to answer her questions.

Health Canada official Leslie Meerburg says the reason there are no warning labels is that the UV emissions of the bulbs are similar to those of a regular 60-watt incandescent bulb.  Also she points out that there is no significant risk of injury to eyes or skin when used at a distance of 30 centimetres for periods lasting less than three hours and follows up with this message.....
"Should there be reason for concern regarding safety with CFs, Health Canada would investigate further, measuring the output of the device, and make specific recommendations to the manufacturer to correct any issues," said Meerburg.

Personally I am not reassured by that.  What she doesn't say in her previous comments is more worrisome I think by comparing all CFs to a mere 60-watt bulb.  Who ever used a 60-watt bulb to read with in the first place?
  Also she did not say that there were NO risk of eye injury and putting a safety limit of 3 hours of use is to me extremely alarming and suggests that there was not enough research done before this was pushed onto the public. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tippled Tippler Topples-But This is NO Joke

I was amazed at the stats in the following article although I am very much aware of the consequences that alcohol brings on people, their families and ultimately on society as a whole.
Today's consensus is that alcoholism is a disease and if you support the idea that all addictions are 'diseases' then it fits in all cases.  I have some personal thoughts of my own about exactly when this happens.  There are many factors to consider in understanding the whole picture. 
First and foremost there is personal responsibility.  Very early on it's the conscious personal behaviors in our culture, the so-called 'rites of passage' and gross lack of self-control that will eventually cause addiction.  There is no 'disease' until you drink yourself into a stupor so many times that it becomes so.  There are rare occurrences when only a very few drinks of alcohol can lead to addiction but the stats in the article are not talking about those cases here.

Secondly does the government have responsibility?  I think it does.  It makes $billion$ causing misery for so many and in so many ways.  The way it stands right now I feel it is basically unregulated and poorly managed.
 I'd like to see alcohol controlled much more rigidly like what they are doing with cigarettes.  It is unbelievably easy for even a ten year old to get their hands on alcohol today.  Power drinks are in every grocery store and they are proving to be very dangerous.  Our children are at risk every day.

The penalties for possessing alcohol or providing alcohol to minors, irrespective of whatever age limit is in place, needs to increased to rates that will get the attention of everyone.  Parents need to be responsible for their children's behavior and if that includes penalties for them so be it.
The community as a whole bears some responsibility as well for turning a blind eye and treating drunkenness and intoxication as laughable YouTube moments. 
It's not funny it's tragic.  You too may be surprised at the following revelations about alcohol.

GENEVA--Alcohol causes nearly 4 percent of deaths worldwide, more than AIDS, tuberculosis or violence, the World Health Organization warned on Friday.
Rising incomes have triggered more drinking in heavily populated countries in Africa and Asia, including India and South Africa, and binge drinking is a problem in many developed countries, the United Nations agency said.
Yet alcohol control policies are weak and remain a low priority for most governments despite drinking's heavy toll on society from road accidents, violence, disease, child neglect and job absenteeism, it said.
Approximately 2.5 million people die each year from alcohol related causes, the WHO said in its "Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health."
"The harmful use of alcohol is especially fatal for younger age groups and alcohol is the world's leading risk factor for death among males aged 15-59," the report found.
In Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), every fifth death is due to harmful drinking, the highest rate.
Binge drinking, which often leads to risky behavior, is now prevalent in Brazil, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and Ukraine, and rising elsewhere, according to the WHO.
"Worldwide, about 11 percent of drinkers have weekly heavy episodic drinking occasions, with men outnumbering women by four to one. Men consistently engage in hazardous drinking at much higher levels than women in all regions," the report said.
Health ministers from the WHO's 193 member states agreed last May to try to curb binge drinking and other growing forms of excessive alcohol use through higher taxes on alcoholic drinks and tighter marketing restrictions.
Alcohol is a causal factor in 60 types of diseases and injuries, according to WHO's first report on alcohol since 2004.
Its consumption has been linked to cirrhosis of the liver, epilepsy, poisonings, road traffic accidents, violence, and several types of cancer, including cancers of the colorectum, breast, larynx and liver.
"Six or seven years ago we didn't have strong evidence of a causal relationship between drinking and breast cancer. Now we do," Vladimir Poznyak, head of WHO's substance abuse unit who coordinated the report, told Reuters.
Alcohol consumption rates vary greatly, from high levels in developed countries, to the lowest in North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and southern Asia, whose large Muslim populations often abstain from drinking.
Homemade or illegally produced alcohol -- falling outside governmental controls and tax nets -- accounts for nearly 30 percent of total worldwide adult consumption. Some is toxic.
In France and other European countries with high levels of adult per capita consumption, heavy episodic drinking is rather low, suggesting more regular but moderate drinking patterns.

Thursday, February 17, 2011



The Canadian Press
Date: Wednesday Feb. 16, 2011 6:51 AM ET
MONTREAL — A Montreal doctor has been suspended and fined for filming female patients with a hidden camera while they were naked.
Quebec's College of Physicians says it has suspended Dr. Barry Rabinovitch for four months and fined him $3,000.
According to the disciplinary report released Tuesday, the investigation found that Rabinovitch filmed 10 to 15 women in various stages of undress in an examining room between January and May 2009.
The 56-year-old is a married father of two children and a lung specialist.
He is also an associate professor with McGill University's medical faculty.
The professional order calls the actions "hateful and degrading" and says the penalty must send a deterrent message to all members of the profession.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


The highlighted portion of this interesting article is followed up by my comments at the bottom.


Trial and error: The brain learns from mistakes

February 8, 2011 Brain
In the developing brain, countless nerve connections are made which turn out to be inappropriate and as a result must eventually be removed. The process of establishing a neuronal network does not always prove precise or error free. Dr. Peter Scheiffele's research group at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel have been able to document this phenomenon using advanced microscopy techniques in the developing cerebellum, a brain area required for fine movement control.

Dr. Scheiffele's group has discovered that a protein traditionally associated with bone development is responsible for correcting errors while neurons connect to their correct partners in the cerebellum. Their results will be published next week in the online, open access journal .
The brain is a highly complex set of neuronal networks, in which thousands of different neuron types establish neuronal connections, called synapses, with other neurons. To establish these synapses, neurons send out axons from their cell bodies, which are fiber like extensions that extend into the various regions of the brain. Each neuron must connect with particular partner neurons during , and it is this precise specificity which allows different circuits and different to serve different functions.
The cerebellum, for example, has very precise connectivity that allows the brain to use sensory information (input) and convert it into an exact motor response (output). There are a number of cell types in the cerebellum, two of which are Purkinje cells and . Mossy fibers are a group of inputs in the cerebellum, which make synaptic connections only with granule cells.
In their study, however, Dr. Scheiffele's group have now been able to demonstrate that these mossy fiber inputs often connect with Purkinje neurons during early brain development, in addition to granule cells. These incorrect Purkinje connections are then subsequently eliminated within a week, establishing proper specificity in the cerebellum. They also find that Bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4) helps correct these initial errors. Originally, BMP4 was linked with the specialization of cells during osteogenesis. That this protein is also responsible for the stability and removal of neuronal connections was not previously known.
"If inappropriate connections between neurons are not subsequently eliminated, this can lead to substantial disturbances in the brain. Autism could also be linked to this form of failure to correct errors," explains Scheiffele. The research group at the Biozentrum used a genetic mouse model to make their observations. With the help of a fluorescent protein, the different could be stained and made visible by an advanced imaging technique that combines light microscopy with electron microscopy. This allowed multiple types of changes in connectivity to be traced. "These processes can be applied to the development of the human brain and could play an important role in further brain research," added Scheiffele.
The brain undergoes drastic changes during its early life. While the neuronal connections in the brain of a newborn are still relatively unspecific, the selectivity of the synapses steadily increases. The question of what advantage these short-lived, inappropriate connections serve during brain development will become a major focus of Dr. Scheiffele's future research, in addition to their potential implications for neurological disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, and epilepsy.
More information: Kalinovsky A, Boukhtouche F, Blazeski R, Bornmann C, Suzuki N, et al. (2011) Development of Axon-Target Specificity of Ponto-Cerebellar Afferents. PLoS Biol 9(2): e1001013. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001013

Hardly a supportive statement for the theory of evolution's mantra that change happens over millions of years.  Humankind is not evolving into healthier beings.  Far from it as we see new diseases constantly being discovered and old diseases making comebacks.  The human race is not one cell closer to perfection under the tutelage of evolutionary theory than when it was dreamed up.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Soldiering-- a Family Affair

This is an exerpt from the following article--'But it's not as if she can run up and  husband on his return from the field. The Canadian military has a strict "no fraternization" policy that forbids soldiers -- even married couples -- from any displays of affection.'

I like this 'family togetherness' story a lot and give them the credit they deserve for their sacrifices but I do have one question though, "What is the definition of fraternization?"

They eat all their meals together. After work, he picks her up and they watch television or a movie. Sometimes they call home. The night ends when he drops her off at her tent.
On Saturdays, they shop at a market on the base where local vendors hawk Afghan rugs, knock-off watches and glass jewelry, and bootleg DVDs.
Some nights they play ball hockey. They both play defence, but on different teams that haven't faced off against each other yet.

 Would an unmarried couple be able to do the above activites day in and day out and not be accused of fraternizing?

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — They met on a military training course. She was a student. He was the instructor. Sparks didn't exactly fly the first time they met.
"The first day, when she arrived at my office, she said, 'I would like a key for my room,"' Warrant Officer Mario Emond recalls on a recent sunny afternoon at Kandahar Airfield.
"She was a new recruit, so (I said), 'Stay in the corridor and when I have time, I will give you the key."'
Master Cpl. Deborah Yaxley picks up the story.
"He was so arrogant," she begins. "You know, I'm asking him for a key so I can go drop off my bags in the room and he's like, 'Yeah, so? You think you're special?' Okay, I'll just go wait in the corridor.
"So it was not love at first sight, that's for sure."
They have been married four years now.
Emond, 42, and Yaxley, 33, are both serving with the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan. He's with the Royal 22e Regiment battle group from CFB Valcartier, Que. She's with the military's national service centre.
Emond's job often takes him outside the relatively safe confines of Kandahar Airfield. Yaxley stays behind on the base. It's hard to see him go, knowing what she knows.
"I thought I was going to be sick the last time he left," she says.
"My heart stopped, because I know what's going on outside. I have access to information and I know what's going on. I have to put my faith in his training. I'm lucky, because there's a lot of people here that keep telling me he's one of the best, so don't worry."
She stops for a moment.
"I just shrug it off, but inside, my heart stops. My heart stops. And then when I see him arrive, it's like Christmas. You know, he's arrived and he's in one piece. It's the best feeling ever."
But it's not as if she can run up and embrace her husband on his return from the field. The Canadian military has a strict "no fraternization" policy that forbids soldiers -- even married couples -- from any displays of affection.
Which makes for a pretty tame Valentine's Day. Their options for a romantic dinner on the base are a noisy pizza joint or TGIFriday's. And forget about a bottle of wine -- Kandahar Airfield is an alcohol-free zone.
Such is married life at KAF. Yaxley and Emond don't even sleep in the same tent. He sleeps in one corner of the base. She sleeps in something known colloquially as a Big-Ass Tent, which is exactly what it sounds like.
They eat all their meals together. After work, he picks her up and they watch television or a movie. Sometimes they call home. The night ends when he drops her off at her tent.
On Saturdays, they shop at a market on the base where local vendors hawk Afghan rugs, knock-off watches and glass jewelry, and bootleg DVDs.
Some nights they play ball hockey. They both play defence, but on different teams that haven't faced off against each other yet.
They have four kids. Their eldest son, Alex, is over here, too. For a while, he served under his father in the battle group. Now he's with B Company out in Kandahar's restive Panjwaii district.
But soon the dunes and dust of Afghanistan will be far behind Emond and Yaxley. They've got a beach vacation in Thailand coming up, and after that just a few more months overseas. Then it's back to their home outside Quebec City.
Until then, surrounded by violence and mayhem, they find comfort in each other.
"I find it makes it a lot easier having him here," Yaxley says, "because all the stresses of the day, when I see him, they just go away."

Monday, February 14, 2011


Bacteria Acquire Human Genes

....and just in time for Valentines's Day!~!

First evidence that bacteria can acquire human genes has come to light in a new study by US researchers who found a fragment of human DNA in Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the bacterium that causes gonorrhea, one of the oldest recorded human diseases.  In a paper about to be published this month in the journal mBio, researchers from Northwestern University in Chicago, also suggest that the gene transfer is a recent evolutionary event.  This is the first time that a direct transfer of genetic material from bacteria to human has ever been recorded.  Lead author Dr Mark Anderson, a postdoctoral fellow in microbiology at Northwestern explained that we have already seen evidence that genes transfer horizontally among different bacteria and even between bacteria and yeast cells, but from human to bacterium is "a very large jump": "This bacterium had to overcome several obstacles in order to acquire this DNA sequence," said Anderson.  The discovery reveals some clues about gonorrhea's adaptability and capacity to survive in humans. The disease transmits through sexual contact and is exclusive to humans.Every year about 50 million people around the world become infected with gonorrhea, some 700, 000 of them in the US.  Although curable with antibiotics, there is only one drug recommended for treatment because the bacterium has developed resistance to the various antibiotics used to treat it over the last 40 years.  Gonorrhea hits women hard.  Untreated, it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, a painful condition that can leave a woman sterile or more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy if she conceives.  Also, in both men and women, there is a form of gonorrhea that enters the bloodstream and causes arthritis and endocarditis, where the heart's inner lining becomes infected.  Senior author Dr Hank Seifert, professor of microbiology and immunology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told the press that their discovery has evolutionary significance because it shows "you can take broad evolutionary steps when you're able to acquire these pieces of DNA".  Seifert has been studying gonorrhea for 28 years, focusing mostly on how it evades the human immune system by changing its appearance and altering the way that human white blood cells behave.  He said the Bible describes an ancient disease that sounds like gonorrhea. The fact gonorrhea can acquire genetic material directly from the host it is infecting "could have far reaching implications as far as how the bacteria can adapt to the host", said Seifert.  An ability to snatch fragments of host DNA probably helps the bacteria develop new strains, but whether this actually confers a survival advantage is not yet evident, he added.  The researchers discovered the gene transfer from human to bacteria when the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, sequenced the genomes of 14 gonorrhea clinical isolates and found three of them had a fragment of DNA that had an identical sequence to an L1 DNA element found in humans.  Further sequencing back at Seifert's lab confirmed this and also showed that the human sequence was present in about 11% of the screened gonorrhea isolates.  The researchers also examined a close genetic relative of gonorrhea, the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis that causes meningitis. They found no trace of the human DNA fragment, which they believe suggests the gene transfer from human to Neisseria gonorrhoeae is a recent evolutionary event.  Seifert said: "The next step is to figure out what this piece of DNA is doing."


Remember when buying an egg meant choosing between small or large?
Today, they can be organic, enriched with omega-3s, free-range, free-run -- even "vegetarian" eggs. And then there's a whole other kind of egg you can buy in pourable cartons.
Eggs have undergone a bit of public relations nightmare of late, renewed this year when a report came out crowing that even the much-maligned KFC Double Down had less cholesterol than a single egg.
The report's authors noted that the Double Down, with its bacon, cheese, sauce and deep fried chicken contained just 150 milligrams of cholesterol compared to the 215 and 275 milligrams in a single egg.
The Egg Farmers of Canada were quick to claim those numbers were wrong, insisting that a large Canadian egg actually has 195 milligrams of cholesterol. Eggs once contained more cholesterol, but new research shows that's dropping.

Here is some help with all the confusing array of the once humble egg.

Omega-3 eggs

Omega-3 enriched eggs come from chickens fed a diet that contains 10 – 20 per cent omega-3-rich flax seed. These eggs typically contain about 400 mg of omega-3s.
Dieticians note that that the kind of omega-3s that are most important to heart health are called EPA and DHA. Two enriched eggs contain about 170 mg of DHA. To put that into perspective, a typical 75-gram serving of farmed Atlantic salmon has 1,610 mg of DHA.

Double-yolk eggs

Double-yolk eggs are typically laid by young hens whose ovulation cycles are still immature. Their ovulation can sometimes occur so rapidly that one yolk will fuse with another into the same egg.
Classified as jumbo eggs, these eggs typically contain 90 calories, seven grams of fat and eight grams of protein.

Premium eggs

Premium eggs are no different nutritionally than regular eggs. They simply are gathered from the most fertile hens and have a stronger shell. That makes the eggs ideal for hard boiling, since the shells are less likely to crack. As well they have firm yolks that stand up nicely during frying.

Free-run eggs/ Free-range eggs

These terms are not the same and are rather tricky. Firstly, be advised that in Canada, neither term is regulated, so you're relying on the good faith of the egg producer that the eggs really did come from free run or free range chickens.

Free-range eggs are supposed to come from hens that have access to the outdoors, as well as nesting boxes, perches and open space in a barn. They're the kind of eggs you'd find on organic farms.

Free run eggs, on the other hand, are more common and come from chickens that are allowed to move inside an enclosed facility, such as a large barn. They typically live in facilities with wire mesh floors but don't see the outdoors.

Neither category is the norm for eggs produced in Canada. While most of the chickens raised as "broiler chicken" for meat reside in free-run facilities, most eggs produced in Canada come from chickens that live in battery cages.
These cages typically house a few birds per cage, and the cages are arranged in rows stacked one atop another.
A number of animal rights groups call the cages inhumane and have begun campaigns calling for all egg-laying chickens to be cage-free. They say the living conditions for the birds are too cramped and note that the hens are typically debeaked to stop them from pecking each other out of stress.

These welfare groups say for those who choose to eat eggs, the ideal is for the eggs to come from chickens that live in organic, free-range conditions.

The Egg Farmers of Canada, on the other hand, point out that the average egg farmer has 20,000 birds and that cage housing maximizes food safety, because the hen's manure is separated from the eggs and removed from the barn regularly.

They say the cages enable all birds to have equal access to food and water. They also point out that free-run egg producers have more work, because eggs are often laid in multiple places, making quick egg collection a challenge.

Some egg farmers have begun using "enriched cages," which are larger than conventional cages and come furnished with perches and a curtained off area to give hens privacy when laying their eggs.

Organic eggs
In order for eggs to be labelled organic, they must be certified according to the Organic Products Regulation. Those regulations requires that the egg-laying hens be allowed to move freely, with outdoor access (weather permitting), and living conditions that encourage natural behaviour. They also need to eat all organic grain feed.

Liquid eggs
These are the pourable eggs from a carton; Egg Beaters is the most well known brand. They're made from egg whites, as well as other ingredients to make them look and taste more like real eggs, including salt, colour and maltodextrin. They're also fortified with vitamins to replace those lost in the yolks.
Liquid eggs have virtually no cholesterol and fat and half the calories as regular eggs.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Hunters who use tree stands can stay safe if they take proper precautions, say researchers who previously published a study on tree stand safety.
The reminder comes after it was announced that 14 hunters in Alabama fell from tree stands and four died during the recent deer-hunting season. That's the highest number of deaths from tree stand falls in Alabama in a single year, said the state's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Across the United States, as many as 30 percent of hunters who use tree stands will have an incident at some point, according to the National Bowhunter Education Foundation's Project Stand. More than half of those who use tree stands neglect to use a "fall arresting device" and about one-quarter of those who fall from tree stands suffer serious injuries.
"Hunting can be safe -- provided hunters have the appropriate training and safety equipment," Gerald McGwin, an associate director for research at the Center for Injury Science at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said in a university news release. "Improvements in the safety design and proper use can help to minimize the burden of injury in the hunter population related to tree stands."
McGwin led a study (published in December 2009 in the Journal of Trauma: Injury, Infection and Critical Care) that identified specific ways to prevent tree stand-related injuries, including education campaigns that recommend the use of safety harnesses and regular maintenance of equipment.
McGwin and colleagues also found that hunters aged 15 to 34 are most likely to suffer serious injuries in tree stand-related accidents. This may be because hunters in this age group take more risks, have less exposure to safety information, and spend more time hunting than older hunters.

There is possibly another reason for this strange phenomena--obesity.  Alabama is one of states in the U.S.A with the highest rate of obesity in this age group and perhaps hunters have not reinforced the structures accordingly over the years.