Friday, December 13, 2013

Does Lung Cancer Have a Bad Stigma?

If you tell a colleague that a relative was recently diagnosed with lung cancer, their first question will most likely be "Were they a smoker?" or something along those lines. If you were to tell that same colleague that your relative was diagnosed with stomach, brain, pancreatic or another type of cancer, their first reaction would be pure sympathy.

The common sigma that is associated with lung cancer is that the person with the cancer is at fault. As children (and even adults), we are shown photographs of the "non-smoker" versus "smoker" lungs (shown above). The pictures make it out to be that smokers are destroying their own bodies and that lung cancer and living on an oxygen tank is simply inevitable. But the stigma with stomach or brain cancer is that it's fairly random. Smoking does contribute to lung cancer, but it doesn't necessarily cause lung cancer. Over 60% of lung cancer diagnoses are for people who have never smoked before.

With that being said, however, smoking is the number one contributor to lung cancer - right behind pollution (people who live in cities are more susceptible to this). And not only that, but lung cancer is the deadliest cancer. It is responsible for over 25% of all cancer-related deaths.

It's interesting that there is such a stereotype for lung cancer being a "for smokers only" type of diagnosis. There are many Americans living in New York City that are exposed to just as many carcinogens as smokers that are just as likely to contract lung cancer in their lifetime.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Daytime Naps Proven to Be Helpful if Done Correctly

Recent studies have found that people who nap periodically throughout the day will actually be more productive than their around-the-clock, energy drink-consuming counterparts. The idea is that napping is a way to "reset the mind" in order to get away from stressful reality for a moment and recharge the body.

Every medical, law, or graduate student would love to admit that napping is beneficial, but they would most likely explain that their time is limited and they would rather spend it preparing for their next test. However, many sleep experts agree that all it takes is a six-minute rest to receive many of the benefits of napping.

During a six-minute power nap, the brain is doing the equivalent of a computer restart. It doesn't have enough time to completely shut down (a full sleep cycle takes 90 minutes), but six minutes is enough time to help relax the mind and improve memory. People who often take six-minute naps will agree that their memory, mood, and alertness are improved after less than 10 minutes of sleep.

As a college student, I often found both six-minute and 90-minute naps to be beneficial. For example, after a stressful day of class, it is recommended to take 90 minutes to "recharge" before diving into homework and other studies. Going through a full 90-minute cycle means that the body goes in and out of deep sleep, which is what we do when sleeping fully at night. People who take 90-minute naps often wake up feeling energized, emotionally stable, and mentally productive. In other words, they wake up in the perfect state for homework.

Naps aren't all good, however. If you do not monitor your sleep and spend more or less time than 6 or 90 minutes, then you could be doing more harm than good. A 60-minute nap seems like a nice, round number, but 60 minutes doesn't allow you to complete an entire sleep cycle, so you will often wake up feeling more tired than when you started. Taking a nap any longer than 6 minutes, but shorter than 90 minutes, will cause this feeling.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Rage and Alcohol to Blame for Retirement Home Murders

A Great Grandfather aged 66 told Investigators that he was filled with rage and extremely drunk on Brandy when he shot and killed two women, Deborah Socia, 59, and Maria Gonzalez, 61, with his MP5 assault rifle at a Detroit area Retirement Home. Mike Reda, the accused killer later told Detroit Police detectives that he had been dating the same woman for years. His neighbors befriended her and regularly kept her from him.
He was enraged over what he called persistent intrusions into his relationship. Reda claimed that he could no longer take their constant meddling. The day after the shooting he constantly asked detectives if the women survived. After finally learning they did not he simply stated. “This is really bad” That’s an understatement Mike.
Reda has seven children, and over two dozen grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Reda confronted Socia and another resident, Paul Fratangelo in the courtyard of the Retirement home. Reda stated that the weapon was accidentally discharged while he was pointing it at Socia’s head. After this point Reda made his way to Gonzalez’s apartment, kicked the door in and shot her twice in the head.
Fratangelo testified that he and Socia were sitting on a bench smoking a cigarette when Reda approached them. He ordered them to get on their knees and pray. Fratangelo said, “Mike, not this, Not like this. We’re both vets. I’m basically pleading with my life here” According to Fratangelo at this time Socia asked Reda “What are you doing?” After which he pointed the rifle at her and fired a single round.
911 Was called and residents looked for a First Aid kit, it was unfortunately too late.
Reda’s trial is scheduled to begin Monday November 11, 2013.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Driveless Cars A Reality By 2020

In the US alone there are over Six Million car accidents each year. Resulting in 32,367 fatalities in 2011. This number was the lowest in the country since 1949 when there were only 30,246 fatalities with far fewer accidents. Since 1996 We have seen an average of 4% per year decrease in fatalities in auto accidents. While the total number of accidents goes up each year.

What do these data tell us? For one we are manufacturing and driving safer cars. This has been at the front of consumer and manufacturer minds since 1980. This was the first real shift towards safety. and 1979 had more fatalities than all but 1 preceding year.

What then is the cause of all of these +6M auto accidents? Around 97% of these accidents are caused by human error. Another alarming statistic is that the number one killer of teenagers is car accidents. Even more alarming is that in the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day teens are twice as likely to die in a car accident than at any other point in the year.

Now I'm a parent and I have concerns about my 5 year old and 3 year old driving. But the good news is for me by the time my Daughter hits 16 years old it will be 2024. These vehicles will have been out for 4 years. Johnny be sure my little babies will be behind the wheel of a  Driver-less car. Now whether or not they deliver on all the hype the vehicles will need some input from the driver. So they can not be totally driver-less.

But I do like Nissan's goal. Creating a vehicle with zero emissions and creating a vehicle with zero fatalities. Watching the arc of fatalities going from 0 in 1898 then ever increasing to it's highest point in 1972 at 54,589, then despite the exponential population growth seeing these numbers fall to an all time low per capita of 32,367, is impressive.

Im excited to see these numbers plummet even further as we reduce the number of humans driving, which account for 97% of these accidents.

So what can you do if you are putting your teens in cars now? These stats may be helpful.

Teens that have their own car and can drive at any time without permission are twice as likely to die in an automobile accident as those that have to ask to borrow their parents car every time they drive.

Start teaching your children good habits as toddlers. That's when they learn how to drive anyway. point out that a vehicle may be in your lane or swerving and they are probably on their phone. Teach good habits early.

We may not be able to stop texting and driving, in fact the epidemic will claim more lives before the problem goes away. So let's look at the problem from an algebraic standpoint. If we can't solve for the texting part of the equation, then lets solve for the driving part of the equation.

Saving over 30,000 lives a year, that's amazing. Not to mention when you don't have to drive it is much more comfortable to drive.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Study Finds That Oreos Are as Addictive as Cocaine

A new study from Connecticut College has provided proof that Oreos and similar snacks can be as addictive as cocaine. The study found that when rats were placed in a maze with Oreos on one side and rice cakes on the other, the rats would continuously choose the side with the Oreos. In addition, the study found that the rats enjoyed the inner icing portion more than the outer cookie portion, and often ate that part first.

Another piece of information that the researchers were interested in studying was the effect Oreos and other high-sugar, high-fat snacks were having on low-income areas. The researchers found that Oreos were marketed and purchased more frequently in areas with lower socioeconomic status. Because Oreos have high sugar and fat contents, this leads to low-income areas having a higher obesity rate among both children and adults, and is often linked to the negative health risks in eating in the fashion such as the onset of juvenile diabetes. And if Oreos truly are addictive, this could be a never-ending cycle for families that regularly purchase them.

The researchers believe that Oreos and other high-sugar, high-fat snacks could potentially be more dangerous than morphine or cocaine because they are more readily available and cost much less. They found that the same areas in the brain's "pleasure center" were activated when the rats ate Oreos and when they were injected with addictive drugs.

This can lead to a serious problem among the general public. Anybody who has eaten an Oreo will know that it is especially hard to eat only one. Some people may believe that this is just because the cookies taste good, but what if there is something else at play? What if fatty and sugary foods are even more addictive than we previously thought? If that is true, it truly does provide Nabisco (the company that makes Oreos) with a solid business model: advertise Oreos heavily on children's TV networks in areas with lower socioeconomic status, then sell Oreos to the consumer at a low enough price to make them seem like a convenient, economical snack, and watch as the same consumers come back again and again to buy more cookies.

Consumers should be cautious and try to avoid eating fatty, sugary, and generally unhealthy foods. Instead of eating "convenient" junk food, consumers should consider trying a vegetarian diet, which can be just as convenient, but a lot healthier, than Oreos.

Friday, October 4, 2013

23AndMe Awarded Designer Baby Patent

On September 24, genetic testing company 23AndMe was awarded United States patent number 8,543,339 for “gamete donor selection based on genetic calculations.” The idea behind the patent is that 23AndMe can test each parent for physical traits or probability for particular diseases, and then choose which genes to give the baby. This means that if one parent’s family is prone to type II diabetes, but the other parent is not, 23AndMe can choose for the baby to have the gene from the parent who is not prone to diabetes. The same process can apply to physical characteristics as well – parents can choose their baby’s eye or hair color based on the genes from both parents.

In addition to simply choosing from the genes of the two parents, 23AndMe is hoping to have a high-quality donor gene pool so parents can create the ideal “designer baby.” If both parents are prone to diabetes, 23AndMe can simply select genes from their donor pool to ensure the baby will not be prone to diabetes. In addition, parents can also select for their child to have blonde hair – even if both parents are brunette.

Although it sounds like a great idea to be able to “engineer” the ideal baby, many genetics experts are wary. Being able to choose the exact genes a baby will have removes the randomness that is childbirth. In addition, many religious experts are questioning whether this is ethical and if the parents are “questioning God” by giving their babies genes to avoid disease. Even still, this is a great way to cure genetic diseases, create variety, and ensure a healthy baby. Nowadays, most people have brown eyes and dark hair because those genes are naturally dominant. Green eyes and blonde hair have become rare, so allowing parents to give their baby a certain color eyes is groundbreaking.

This technology still has a long way to go, but the framework and patent are both there. It will be interesting to see in the coming years how “designer babies” show up in the news.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Veganism can cure Type II Diabetes

It has long been known by doctors that one of the contributing factors for Type II Diabetes is diet. We all know soda is bad for us, everyone knows carrots are good for your eyes and spinach makes you strong. So why arent we all seeing 20/20 and look like the chiseled individuals that adorn the magazines we all like to look at? Because Meat tastes like murder, and murder tastes good. And sugar mmmm sugar so delicious, Cotton candy are you kidding me!?!? Heaven.

So what is all this nonsense about being a vegan? I know that for me personally when i used to hear someone say they were a vegetarian, or a vegan I would roll my eyes, and try not to get too close them because they most certainly smelled like patchouli. Of course since I'm always right I was right, about the patchouli.

But as I certainly grow older and arguably wiser, I've come to question the merits of a Vegan diet on a whole other level. The level that, well it makes sense.

Let's look at a few things about the Vegan diet that tend to make it work as a cure for some people with type II Diabetes.

1. Regulate Blood Sugar - Eating this mainly plant based diet will do one thing for you. Regulate. Regulate your blood sugar levels since there are not huge spikes with sugar, and simple carbohydrates that essentially turn straight to sugar. Because the diet is pretty high in soluble fiber, it will also help you regulate in other well, more moving ways as well.

2. Heart Healthy - The make up of the Vegan diet is naturally cholesterol free, low in saturated fats, and high in soluble fiber which makes this one of the most heart healthy diets known to man. This is good news since Type II Diabetes has a high instance of heart disease related to it.

3. Weight loss - It is easy to see why weight loss occurs when you see how many calories are in oil and fats, and how much room they take up in your stomach, you then compare how many calories are in leafy green vegetables, fruits and nuts and you can see how you just cant stuff that much into one hole. Due to this difference, you eat until you are full, but you are full of better food with far fewer calories. Weight loss is inevitable.

Many vegans eat the way they do for moral reasons and want to go to parades, throw red paint on people with fur coats, etc, etc, and oh yes wear lots of patchouli. Forget that noise, relax and have some broccoli bro.

If I thought it would be delicious, I would eat a baby seal, and if I knew the baby seal tasted BEST after being clubbed, that is how I would order it, "Ill have the clubbed baby seal, stuffed with veal, and fois gras" MMMM I'm getting hungry. BUT my choice is for health reasons.

My choice is for the energy that I get, and in convincing some of the more unhealthy people in my life to go vegan I hope to add years to their lives, reduce their medications and overall play a part in them having a better life.

Although it seems like it would be fun to throw paint on someone.