Contacts vs Lasik

An interesting comparison of the cost of Lasik surgery vs that of contacts. Each carries its own risks, as indicated below.


Via: King Lasik

Antibiotics, Meat and Superbugs

In the United States, antibiotics are routinely given to animals that later find their way to the meat sections of virtually every supermarket.  Animals are packed close together in crowded spaces and the drugs prevent the spread of disease.  The predicted problem is the development of superbugs or bacteria that are highly resistant to current treatment options.  Recent studies appear to have confirmed what scientists and nutritionalists have warned against:

A strain of the potentially deadly antibiotic-resistant bacterium known as MRSA has jumped from food animals to humans, according to a new study involving two Northern Arizona University researchers.

Paul Keim, Regents’ professor and director of NAU’s Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics, and Lance Price, NAU faculty member and director of the Center for Food Microbiology and Environmental Health at the Translational Genomics Research Institute, collaborated with scientists at 20 institutions around the world on the study published today in the online journal mBio.

The TGen-led research utilized whole genome sequencing to study 89 genomes from humans and animals—including turkeys, chickens and pigs—with samples from 19 countries on four continents.

The research focused on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus CC398, also known as pig MRSA or livestock-associated MRSA because it most often infects people with direct exposure to swine or other food animals. It is likely that MRSA CC398 started as an antibiotic-susceptible strain in humans before it jumped to food animals.

After transferring to food animals, MRSA CC398 became resistant to two important antibiotics, tetracycline and methicillin, which are used for treating staph infections. The resistance likely is a result of the routine antibiotic use that characterizes modern food animal production. The animals commonly are given antibiotics to prevent infection and promote growth.

Keim, who also serves as director of TGen’s Pathogenic Genomics Division, said the study describes evolution in action. “The most powerful force in evolution is selection. And in this case, humans have supplied a strong force through the excessive use of antibiotic drugs in farm animal production. It is that inappropriate use of antibiotics that is now coming back to haunt us.”

Price, the study’s lead author, said the research was “like watching the birth of a superbug—it is simultaneously fascinating and disconcerting.” He said that while this strain of MRSA was discovered less than a decade ago it appears to be spreading very quickly.

“Our findings underscore the potential public health risks of widespread antibiotic use in food animal production,” Price said. “Staph thrives in crowded and unsanitary conditions. Add antibiotics to that environment and you’re going to create a public health problem.”

This is micro-evolution in action and provides a frightening look at the potential for health crisis and motivates an evaluation of our diet options.

The Yo-Yo Diet Returns Again (and Again)

Have you struggled with yo-yo dieting and weight-loss frustrations?  Are you concerned about your weight but are not sure what to do?

Millions of Americans share your struggle to shed the extra pounds gained so easily in the age of fast and processed food, supersized proportions, and sugar laden beverages.  We are a society that has uncovered the link between obesity and diabetes as a result of our prosperity and dietary indulgences.

Diets come and go and so does the weight.  Rapidly losing pounds through radical and unsustainable diets inevitably fails and often leads to a return to the same or higher weight.  In fact, over 90% of dieters regain lost weight within one year.

Experts have analyzed the situation and have lucid explanations for the yo-yo effect.  I’m going to give you my opinion built only on my own experience.

First, short-term extreme dieting can’t be sustained and therefore does not lead to a change in eating, sleeping and exercise habits.  The same behaviors that led to long-term weight gain return unless new patterns are formed.  In particular, the use of food to deal with stress or as the basis for social interactions is deeply rooted and difficult to modify unless done in a purposeful manner with long-term health in view.

Second, crash dieting often involves severe calorie restrictions which leads to a reduced base metabolic rate (BMR), according to recent studies.  In other words, your body automatically adapts to low calorie situations by using less energy.  As a result, after an initial diet induction phase, often associated with rapid weight-loss, progress is slow.  And, a return to former daily calorie intake may (I’m theorizing) lead to a greater energy imbalance resulting in rapid weight gain.  The equation for fat gain looks something like:  (calories stored as fat) = (consumed calories) – BMR – (calories used during activity).  So, reducuing your BMR increases the likelihood of future weight gain if old habits return.

Short-term dieting for the sole purpose of weight loss is one dimensional and does not necessarily have long-term health as its objective.  Weight or BMI may be associated with risk factors but these are not a comprehensive health metric.  Overall health should be in view which may actually preclude some weight-loss strategies.

Over the past year I have had success that was built on a change in eating habits, a reduction in processed and fast foods, the introduction of sustainable exercise programs and consideration of sleeping patterns.  I’m working on a post outlining the choices that were particularly helpful and some that were not… stay tuned.

 

Google Health

After the early start-up days, Google, like many larger companies, has struggled with adjacent markets. The company missed the boat on social media and GoogleWave was a disaster. That said, their indexing and search, translation, mail, online office, webmaster tools, advertising and VOIP are best in class.

I think it is healthy for a tech company to fail once in a while… it shows their willingness to take chances, etc. rather than acquire (and stagnate) successful start-ups.

Infection, Diabetes and Septic Shock

Sepsis should be one of the most feared diseases facing individuals with diabetes.  I’m not sure that it is, probably because it is generally not well understood and is not reported in the same dramatic manner as other illnesses.

However, those diagnosed with sepsis have up to a ~16% mortality rate.  This rises 40% for those with severe sepsis and to over 60% for those with septic shock.  Unlike cancer, which is significantly less deadly (see the figure), sepsis can strike in a matter of days and takes its toll on the young and old alike.  To make matters worse, there is apparently not a clear diagnostic criteria until the disease has progressed.  Until then, clinicians look for two or three indication that are often qualitative.  And, every hour that treatment is delayed carries a 7% increase in mortality.

What is sepsis?  It is the overwhelming response of the body to an infection.  It is the body’s deady response to infection or injury.

I once attended a talk in which the presenter described the body’s immune system as a booby-trap that is set to self-destruct when an intruder enters its premises.  The infection is the intruder and the response of the body’s immune system is what actually causes the deadly blast.

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My Top Reasons for Eating Breakfast – and why you should too

Late last year I had a rough visit with the doctor. Rough because he pointed out the blatant health risks in the bluntest of terms associated with my eating habits and resulting BMI. Needless to say, he made an impact and I changed, lost weight and have adopted a new lifestyle.

breakfast is esstentialAmong several modifications to my daily habits is a return to breakfast. My fast pace and stress filled lifestyle gave rise to the coffee-on-the-go morning meal which inevitably made me irritable and starved by noon.

Doc told me to eat a large breakfast and I’ve followed his advice.

Having thought, read and acted upon doc’s advice, I’d like to share with you my top reasons for eating breakfast:

  • Stops impulse binging and overeating as a result of hunger and craving – no more mid-morning hypo, fast food cravings. Instead I eat an equally healthy lunch
  • Enables normal metabolic rate and activity – the body needs fuel and when it doesn’t it begins to slow down calorie consumption. Breakfast gets the metabolism up and running and burning calories at a normal rate.
  • Maintains a normal insulin response — studies indicate that skipping meals leads to hyper insulin response when calories are later consumed, which in turn encourages fat accumulation
  • Provides energy when you first need it — I need energy first thing in the morning and am now able to hit the ground running
  • Gives clarity of thought – I’ve experienced a noticeable difference and an improvement in concentration and efficiency
  • Gives Essential nutrients — the nutrients that are bypassed by skipping breakfast are essential to good health
  • Lower cholesterol, which reduces the risk of heart disease as suggested by researchers
  • Satisfies hunger- I always said I’m not hungry in the morning – well, now that I’ve adopted healthy eating habits I am. No more late night snacking leads to a healthy appetite in the morning
  • Time for Morning Contemplation – taking time out first thing in the morning is enjoyable and provides an opportunity to think, pray and prepare for the rest of the day
  • Family time – breakfast has increase the time I spend with my family

As I mentioned above, this has made a big difference in my health and daily routing, not the least of which is weight loss.  I’ll detail some of my other changes in future posts but hope that this one will encourage my friends to consider breakfast as an essential to the start of each day.

Why do we continually hear that diabetes diagnoses and treatment are ineffective?

We continue to hear year after year that both diagnosis and treatment of diabetes is inadequaete.  For example:

Nearly 90 percent of U.S. adult diabetics — more than 16 million adults aged 35 and older — have ineffective treatment of blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. That percentage is 99 percent in Mexico, said the researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Frankly, I don’t know why a problem that is this often researched, reported and editorialized is not acted upon in an effective manner.  Here are a few guesses regarding why our progress in this area has been slow:

  1. Diabetes is a challenging disease to identify because is exists in a continuum of states begining with insulin resistance and hyperinsulemia.
  2. Finding an alternate or suplimentary tool for diagnosis faces stiff resistance among the medical community if it is not fully vetted with a large, mult-center and internationally approved clinical study.  After all, “new” mean changing the practice of medicine which requires significant proof. 
  3. The cost of (2) may be an large impediment
  4. Our society tends to rely too heavily on doctors and/or medications to cure with a sliver bullet.  Effective treatment of diabetes requires change in one’s lifestyle, expectations and resource allocation.  The disease is not life threatening (generally) on a day-to-day basis which makes it difficult for many to “sacrifice” their present desires for the future.

These were off the top of my head … I’ll add more as I think of them.

Thanks for reading.

Curing the Common Cold

Through-out history, the common cold has been treated in a number of ways.  Ancient Romans drank onion broth to relieve symptoms. Twefth century Egyptian physicians recommended chicken soup (reportedly learned from the ancient Greeks). Colonial Americans drank tea or herbal concoctions of sage, hyssop, goldenseal, bloodroot, black cohosh and buckthorn (among others). This eventually evolved into honey and lemon. In a last ditch effort to relieve symptoms, a hot toddy laced with rum has also been served.

While some of these remedies may relieve suffering, none actually comes remotely close to curing or preventing a cold.

However, for some colds, namely those originating in a Rhinoviruses infection, there is a treatment that has been show to be effective.  You see, the Rhinovirus entry point is through the upper respiratory tract where it is transported to the back of the throat. Once there, the virus attaches to cell surface receptors known as Intercellular Adhesion Molecule- 1 (ICAM-1), and infection begins.  

The binding site for the ICAM-1receptor is actually in a small crevice on the outside of the virus known as a binding pocket.  As it turns out, zinc is also able to bind in this pocket and once bound, the zinc physically blocks access to the binding pocket. 

Here, then, is the conclusion:

While zinc treatment is not recommended for daily use to prevent colds, if used at any point during a rhinoviral infection, it will prevent the propagation of infection. The zinc does so by blocking the binding pockets of virus shed following initial infection. There are drawbacks to this treatment. For instance, zinc is only effective in preventing rhinoviral infection and therefore will not shorten the length of those colds caused by other viruses (half of all colds). Also, an oral dose of zinc is ineffective. This is because the zinc must come into contact with rhinoviruses to inactivate them, and that will not happen if the zinc is in the bloodstream and the rhinovirus is in the nasal passages. Despite the limitations, the zinc treatment may represent a major step forward in the fight against the common cold.

Source:  RHINOVIRUS: AN UNSTOPPABLE CAUSE OF THE COMMON COLD

Vitamin D deficiency common in diabetics

Italian researchers report in the medical journal Diabetes Care, that approximately three out of every five patients with type 2 diabetes show signs of vitamin D deficiency:

(…) The rate of vitamin D deficiency (61 percent) was significantly higher in the diabetics than in the controls (43 percent). Diabetics with vitamin D deficiency were more likely to be women, to have poorly controlled diabetes, and to be taking insulin and cholesterol-lowering drugs.
(…) Because a lack of vitamin D can negatively affect bone health and have other adverse effects, he added, “widespread screening for vitamin D deficiency or routine vitamin D supplementation should be seriously considered” for people with diabetes.

More…
Related:
Vitamin D inhibits progression of some prostate cancers
Researchers Find Means Of Isolating Vitamin D’s Cancer-Fighting Properties

High Blood Pressure During Sleep More Harmful

According to a new study, differences in blood pressure levels among people at night may make an additional contribution to people’s risk of heart disease, renal injury and stroke.

The Mayo researchers put ambulatory blood pressure monitors on 240 healthy people (all but two had normal blood pressure) and obtained blood pressure readings every 10 minutes for 20 consecutive hours.
The somewhat surprising finding was that differences in blood pressure levels among the participants in the study were as great or greater when they were sleeping as when they were busy with daytime activities.

Read more…
Related: High Blood Pressure – An Elusive Threat: Excess weight can contribute to high blood pressure, which is one reason that exercising and dieting can help lower pressures. This same regimen helps to control diabetes, which can be worsened by high blood pressure.

Coffee-Gene Interaction Raises Heart Attack Risk

“… coffee consumption increases the risk of MI only among individuals with a slow metabolizer genotype.” – Researchers.
myocardial_infarction.jpg Caffeine is “the most widely consumed stimulant in the world” and has been implicated in the development of such cardiovascular diseases as acute myocardial infarction. However, the relationship between coffee drinking and heart attack has been confusing, and this study helps to clarify some to clarify the muddy picture of the coffee-heart risk interaction by showing that a certain genetic make-up may increase the risk.
According to researchers at the University of Toronto, people with a gene variant that causes slow metabolism of caffeine have a sharply elevated risk of a non-fatal heart attack if they drink large amounts of coffee. In a large case-control study, only those people who were slow to metabolize caffeine had an increased risk of non-fatal myocardial infarction when they drank large amounts of coffee, which points to the fact that we need to take into account not just how much caffeine we take in, but also how much stays in your system.
A qualifier to the apparent link of a slow metabolizer genotype and risk of myocardial infarction is that coffee contains a range of other chemicals, and is associated with other lifestyle factors that cloud the link between consumed caffeine and unwanted cardiovascular outcomes.
Currently, there is no commercially available test that can distinguish between the two genotypes studied. However, one implication of the study is that a single cup of coffee a day – 250 mL , is safe no matter what genotype is involved.
Read more on this…
See animation of myocardial infarction here.

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Memory, Blood pressure, and Diabetes – ‘Got Folate’

9.28folate.jpgReaders wanting an easy way to prevent memory loss and lower your blood pressure, may want to consider a “mystery vitamin” that may improve your body and mind.

In a Tufts University study, men on a high-folate diet had sharper cognitive skills three years later. The study measured men’s’ verbal skills and their ability to copy complex figures — difficult tasks for those with failing memories.
(…) Doctors say folate opens up blood vessels, which helps your brain function, and can prevent another health problem. In another study, younger women who consumed at least 1,000 micrograms of folate a day were 46-percent less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who consumed less than 200 micrograms.
(…) “It’s a huge cardiovascular risk factor, and the idea that folate may be able to reduce the risk of high blood pressure is very exciting,” says kidney specialist John P. Forman, M.D., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, also in Boston.
(…) One cup of raw spinach contains 60 micrograms, and just a handful nuts has 40. Add some bread and fruit, and you’ll be on your way to getting the recommended 400 micrograms a day … And a healthy mind and body!
(…) Not getting enough folate is also linked to a number of cancers. As for health risks from a high-folate diet, experts say it can cause seizures for those taking anti-convulsant medications.

Folate is also the subject of research in diabetes. Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia are studying the Impact of diabetes on folate transport – how folate, a vitamin essential to cell proliferation and survival, makes its way to the retina and how diseases such as diabetes interfere with the journey, and a possible relationship to diabetic retinapathy.

The researchers are focusing on the transport of folate to the retina’s photoreceptor cells, metabolically active cells that take in light and constantly shed old protein without any obvious supply of folate, such as blood, to help make new protein.

Another area of study, just one of many in folic acid research, has to do with the fact that Type 2 diabetes patients are subject to oxidative stress as a result of hyperglycemia, and folate supplementation reduces serum Hsp70 levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.

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Ovarian cancer risk associated with Milk

Goodness of milk ‘offset by ovarian cancer risk’ ?
Scientists have reported that drinking just one glass of milk a day could increase the risk of women developing ovarian cancer. Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm analysed 21 studies researching diet and ovarian cancer and found that drinking milk increased cancer risk by 13 per cent.
Hyscience has the story.