Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Gulf War illness traced to Chemicals

Monday, March 10th, 2008

A review conducted by researchers by the University of California, San Diego, has found a strong connection between exposure to specific chemicals and the Gulf War illness experienced by veterans. The symptoms are mood-cognition problems, fatigue and musculoskeletal symptoms. To be precise, this includes muscle and joint pain, memory problems, rashes, sleep issues and breathing trouble. Veterans of the Persian Gulf War have elevated rates of chronic multi-symptom health problems compared to those who were never deployed in the military or those who were deployed in other areas.

Up to one third of veterans were exposed to pesticides, nerve agents and other chemical exposures. “Convergent evidence now strongly links a class of chemicals — acetylcholinesterase inhibitors — to illness in Gulf War veterans,” Dr. Beatrice Golomb of the University of California, San Diego, said.

To protect against exposure to nerve agents, veterans were given pills known as carbamate pyridostigmine bromide which contained acetylcholinesterase inhibitors which is an enzyme that regulates the vital neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Unfortunately, this backfired and the studies show that those who took the pill have worsened symptoms than those who did not.

“Across studies, significant positive relationships of acetylcholinesterase -related exposures to illness in GWV outnumber significant negative relationships more than chance would predict,” wrote Golomb. “The studies show a high consistency, with most showing a significant (typically strong) positive association. Few non-significant findings are present and virtually no inverse associations.”

Furthermore, it has been regrettable to note that some people have genetic variants that make them more vulnerable to such chemicals, and when exposed, these people are in more jeopardy of illness. “There is evidence that genetics have something to do with how a body handles exposure to these chemicals,” said Golomb. “Some people are genetically less able to withstand these toxins and evidence shows that these individuals have higher chance of suffering the effects of exposure.”

Depressing news on Anti Depressants

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

It has been found in American medical research studies that the most prescribed drug in the country, antidepressants, aren’t that entirely effective. According to researchers, they work as well as sugar pills and those who do improve are thought to only get better because of the placebo effect. “When you have samples of lower levels of depression, the benefits were very modest and even disappeared,” said Blair T. Johnsons, Professor of Psychology at the University of Connecticut. “My theory is that human beings are very suggestible creatures. The patient who takes these drugs then might, in believing they feel better, start to act in a way that actually makes them feel better. Consequently you have almost as big an effect for placebo as you do for drugs.”

This has created a debate on what are the most appropriate and successful therapies for depression and has questioned whether or not clinical trials are actually successful in determining their effectiveness. Drugs are given almost freely in America compared to other western countries where a series of tests and other treatments are approached to help combat depression before the pills are recommended. Over 30 million prescriptions of antidepressants are filled out each year around the world yet it’s not recommended as the first resort to combat depression. Psychotherapy is one of the most effective ways to fight depression however accessing therapists and finding the time for sessions is difficult in this modern world.

Britain has done its share of research and has concluded the same result as The University of Connecticut in America – antidepressants are as successful as placebos and make only a small difference in serious depression. “Given these results, there seems little reason to prescribe anti-depressant medication to any but the most severely depressed patients, unless alternative treatments have failed to provide a benefit,” said lead researcher Professor Irving Kirsch of the University of Hull in Britain.

Conception and Development

Friday, January 6th, 2006

The development of an unborn child is something that puzzles many women who are pregnant. And doctors don’t have much time to sit them down and explain to them what happens between fertilization and birth.

To explain the whole process would just make everyone confused, so here are a few interesting facts for those who would like to know just a little bit more.
The early scientists believed that inside the “head” of the male sperm, a human was already present. Fully developed and all, ready to grow to a normal size inside the uterus of the mother. Nowadays we know better.
After fertilization, it takes about a week for the egg to nest itself into the uterus wall. Then, a very complex strain of development occurs which forms the tiny beginning of a human.

Something that most people do not know, is that only four weeks after the fertilization, there is already a heartbeat present. It isn’t detectable yet, but it’s there.
During the development of the intestines, there comes a period, around the ninth week, where the intestines grow faster than the child and there isn’t any room left for the intestines to go. But nature has come up with a solution. For a short period of time, the intestines take up some room inside the umbilical cord. But around the eleventh week, there is room again and the intestines grow back inside the embryo.

After only ten weeks, there is already a human visible. The face has a human profile, limbs are visible and there is even already genitalia with male or female characteristics.
These are some little facts of the development of an embryo in the first trimester. If you want to know more, visit or ask your doctor.

House Resolution 776 threatens Women’s Rights

Thursday, July 14th, 2005

By Simi Lipsan
Women’s rights are in grave danger. We have pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control; the Bush administration is looking to replace Sandra Day O’Connor with a more conservative justice and we have House Resolution 776 introduced By Rep. Ronald Paul [R-TX].

HR 776, the Sanctity of Life Act of 2005, is in my opinion, a detriment to the women of this country. The act states: “The Congress finds that present day scientific evidence indicates a significant likelihood that actual human life exists from conception. Upon the basis of this finding, and in the exercise of the powers of the Congress–
(1) the Congress declares that-(A) human life shall be deemed to exist from conception, without regard to race, sex, age, health, defect, or condition of dependency; and (B) the term “person” shall include all human life as defined in subparagraph (A) and (2) the Congress recognizes that each State has the authority to protect lives of unborn children residing in the jurisdiction of that State.”

By stating that life begins at conception, abortion automatically becomes murder.

Congressman Paul, let’s put aside, for the moment, the fact that the government should not have the right to dictate what I can do to my body, and focus only on the implications and consequences of this act.

This bill leaves no room for change regardless of circumstance. This means in the case of rape or incest, a woman will be forced to go through the pregnancy, having a constant daily reminder of the trauma, delaying her ability to try and get over it and to go on with her life. Trust me sir, a rape is something that takes time to put behind you, and to have to wait for nine months to even begin to heal is cruel and can be as emotionally devastating as the rape itself. Congressman, you have 5 children and 17 grandchildren, if one of your daughters or granddaughters was raped and impregnated, would you really want her to have the child? Would you make her carry the child to term so she could put it up for adoption? Would you be able to look at her face every day and see her reliving the trauma every time she looks at herself in the mirror? Would you be able to look at her growing belly knowing that it is not from an act of love, but from an act of violence and feel what she is going through is right?

What about cases where the mother’s life is threatened? Should not the woman be the one to decide if she is willing to give up her own life for that of her unborn child. After all, she stands a much better chance of having another child, than the child does of having its mother.

The bill makes no provisions in the case of teenage pregnancy. In my opinion children should not be having children and if my teenage daughter got pregnant, I would want her to have an abortion. I’m sure you think adoption would be a better alternative and for some it may be, however, teenage mothers are less likely to gain adequate weight during their pregnancy, leading to low birthweight, which is associated with infant and childhood disorders and a high rate of infant mortality. Low-birthweight babies are more likely to have organs that are not fully developed, which can result in complications such as bleeding in the brain, respiratory distress syndrome, and intestinal problems. Teenage mothers tend to have poor eating habits and are less likely to take recommended daily multivitamins to maintain adequate nutrition during pregnancy.

They are also more likely to smoke, drink or take drugs during pregnancy, which can cause health problems for the baby. Teenage mothers are less likely to seek regular prenatal care. Prenatal care is essential for monitoring the growth of the fetus; keeping the mother’s weight in check; and advising the mother on nutrition and how she should take care of herself to ensure a healthy pregnancy. According to the American Medical Association, babies born to women who do not have regular prenatal care are 4 times more likely to die before the age of 1 year. These are not going to be the babies that will be easy to adopt. Also keep in mind that in the United States, the annual cost of teen pregnancies from lost tax revenues, public assistance, child health care, foster care, and involvement with the criminal justice system is estimated to be about $7 billion. Come on Congressman, you’re a doctor; I shouldn’t have to tell you this.
Making abortion illegal will not stop abortions. What it will stop is safe abortions and women will die unnecessarily. There will be more unwanted children, more infants found dead or dying in dumpsters, more children in a foster care system with an already inadequate number of qualified caretakers. If the law is going to insist that all children be brought into this world, the law needs to wait until the world is ready to accept and care for all of them.