Health

Sandra Park – Who Should Control Your Genetic Information — You or Corporate Laboratories?

May 26, 2016

Should patients have the same right to access their genetic information from a laboratory as they would a copy of their MRI, X-rays, or physical exam records? We believe the answer is clearly yes, which is why today we filed the firstcomplaint seeking to guarantee patients’ rights to their own genetic data. The stakes are high. On one side are four patients asserting privacy rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, commonly known as HIPAA, which guarantees access to their entire health record. On the other side is a corporate laboratory with a vested interest in maintaining proprietary control over patient data. Two of the patients are Barbara Zeughauser and Ken Deutsch, cousins who have lost many family members to breast, lung, and pancreatic cancers. In 2009, Barbara obtained genetic testing and found out that she had an uncommon mutation of the BRCA1 gene that is linked to significantly higher cancer risk. Two years ago, Ken was diagnosed with metastatic bladder cancer and also tested positive for the same genetic variant. That knowledge gave him hope, as doctors thought he would be more responsive to the type of chemotherapy that he was receiving, and following treatment, there is no evidence

Brian Shilhavy – Vaccine Court Stats on Injuries and Deaths Betray Government’s Position on Vaccine Safety

May 26, 2016

Every day, people in the United States are being injured and killed by vaccines. This is a fact that is not in dispute, as the Department of Justice’s quarterly report on vaccine injuries and deaths clearly demonstrates. And yet, the government’s official public statement about vaccines is that they are safe and effective, and should be mandated for all people. Any opinion or presentation of facts to contradict their position is vigorously suppressed and censored all in the name of “public health” for the “greater good.” The American public is largely unaware that there is a vaccine court known as the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program(NVICP). This program was started as a result of a law passed in 1986 that gave pharmaceutical companies total legal immunity from being sued due to injuries and deaths resulting from vaccines. If you or a family member is injured or dies from vaccines, you must now sue the Federal Government in this special vaccine court. Many cases are litigated for years before a settlement is reached. Read

Carolanne Wright – Scientists Discover Instinctual “Reptilian” Region of the Brain Directly Linked to Compassion and Happiness

May 26, 2016

We’ve all had those kinds of days where everything seems to go wrong. You’re running late, and hit every single stoplight from home to work. Kids are uncooperative. You forget your phone (and wallet). You spill coffee down the front your shirt. And so it goes. Nothing overly shocking, it happens to everyone now and again, but science is finding that how we respond to these kinds of challenging circumstances says a lot about how our brains are wired — and how resilient (and happy) we are when faced with negative events. The amygdala (or “fear” center of the brain) generally gets a bad rap, known to be responsible for depression, anxiety and aggression — those very emotions that can be triggered when we’re having a tough day. It’s the oldest part of the brain and considered the most primitive, continually on the lookout for potential dangers. The small, almond-shaped brain region is associated with negative stimuli, and it’s largely accepted that those who have elevated activity in this area are prone to heightened levels of negative emotions. However, new research has discovered that the amygdala also responds to positive stimuli — and is strongly associated with compassion, human connection and happiness. According to Greater

Michelle Goldstein – Why the Chicken Pox Vaccine Makes NO Sense

May 26, 2016

The chicken pox vaccine, formally known as the varicella vaccination, was added to the recommended childhood vaccination schedule in 1995. Prior to this vaccine’s creation, it was a common practice for families to expose children to others who had the chicken pox. The disease was considered a normal part of childhood and it was widely known that chicken pox in childhood posed little to no risk of serious harm. Risks associated with chicken pox are more common in adults and those with compromised immune systems. My Experience With The Chicken Pox Illness And Vaccination I clearly remember exposing my middle child to my older one during his outbreak of chicken pox, ensuring both would develop lifelong immunity to this once common, mild childhood disease. They both developed the common rash and mild discomfort of itching and low fever. I remember feeling relieved and happy when my middle daughter broke out in a skin rash, the telltale symptoms of chicken pox. Read

FDA fails to act: Women have 2x the risk to develop an adverse drug reaction compared to men

May 25, 2016

The gender earnings gap has made headlines recently as political campaigns argue over the issues. But there is another gender gap that gets little attention: the adverse drug reaction risk for women.  Why is the FDA ignoring this problem? From unsafe medical devices to inadequate clinical trials for drugs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has turned a blind eye to the unique health concerns of women, putting them at risk for drug side effects and other healthcare concerns. The results have been devastating, not only to women but sometimes to their unborn children. Unsafe drugs and inadequate clinical testing The problem of gender bias in medical research, whether involving drugs or medical devices, is nothing new. Yet, the FDA has continued to overlook obvious voids in its processes that would better safeguard the health of women. Read

Jill Suttie – Where to Find Wisdom in the Body

May 25, 2016

Many cultures consider the human heart to be the seat of wisdom. Now scientists are finding some evidence for this, though the reality may be more complicated than it seems. Previous research has suggested that higher heart rate variability (HRV)—the variability in the time between our heartbeats, which is a measure of heart health—is associated with better cognitive and emotional functioning. For example, higher HRV has been linked to better workingmemory and attention, higher levels of empathy and social functioning, and better emotional self-control. Could heart rate variability be linked to better moral judgments, as well? Researcher Igor Grossmann from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, and his colleagues at the University of Western Sydney in Australia, looked at how HRV interacts with moral reasoning and judgment—or wisdom—in a series of experiments. To measure wisdom, 186 participants were asked to select a social or political issue currently being debated in Australia that they felt particularly strongly about—such as climate change, unemployment, taxes, etc. Then they were asked to discuss their insights into the issue and how they thought it might play out over time using one of two possible viewpoints: 1) a “self-immersed” or subjective, more personal perspective, using first-person pronouns like “I” or

Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D – What If Home Birth Is Actually SAFER Than Hospital Birth?

May 24, 2016

During a February thunderstorm, with her toddler sleeping peacefully down the hall, Jennifer Lang gave birth to her second child. Nico was born just 90 minutes after the first contraction, in the bathtub of Lang’s home in Benedict Canyon. “It’s a very convenient place to have a baby,” Lang points out, adding that the labor went so quickly that her midwives arrived only about a half an hour before the birth. “Empty the tub and it’s all cleaned up.” Nico was born six years ago. In 2014, the most recent year for which we have statistics, over 59,000 Americans chose to have their babies outside the hospital. Of those, 38,094 births occurred at home, the highest number since 1989. Though still only a fraction of the nearly four million births that occur in America each year, out of hospital birth is on the rise. When Americans think of women who choose home birth, we usually conjure up images of barefoot hippies with flowing skirts and unbrushed hair, not of Jennifer Lang, M.D., a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist and a graduate of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, whose typical attire is LA-chic: designer jeans, low-heel ankle booties, a strappy tank, and structured jacket. Lang spent

YOUR RISK OF DYING HINGES ON WELL-BEING NOT DISEASES

May 24, 2016

A new study has yielded a radically different picture of aging in America, finding that how old you are plays little or no role in determining differences in health and well-being. The researchers say the results suggest the medical community is focusing on the wrong set of factors to determine risk of dying. Rather than rely on a checklist of infirmities—heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol levels—perhaps it’s time to consider a new “comprehensive model” that looks at factors such as psychological well-being, sensory function, and mobility. “The new comprehensive model of health identifies constellations of health completely hidden by the medical model and reclassifies about half of the people seen as healthy as having significant vulnerabilities that affect the chances that they may die or become incapacitated within five years,” says Professor Martha McClintock, a biopsychologist and lead author of the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read

MANUEL E. YEPE – Think Tanks and the US Power Elite

May 23, 2016

The US power elite is involved in many ways in the dispute over global domination, its exercise and defense. The precarious balance of forces in the bipolar world in which we lived after World War II prevented US imperialism from imposing its absolute hegemony world-wide. That was based on the nuclear blackmail it threatened after its genocidal bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Later, a tense arms race would arrive, promoted by the so-called “balance of terror”. According to this notion, which the forerunner power in the production of weapons would cause an imbalance in the international arena. The one with the most and deadliest weapons would be able to destroy the other. Read

John Hogan – Dear “Skeptics,” Bash Homeopathy and Bigfoot Less, Mammograms and War More

May 23, 2016

Yesterday I spoke at the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism, NECSS, a “celebration of science and critical thinking” held May 12-15 in New York City. Philosopher Massimo Pigliucci, whom I met recently, got me invited, and he might regret that, because I decided to treat the skeptics skeptically. I originally titled my talk “Skepticism: Hard Versus Soft Targets.” The references to “Bigfoot” in the headline above and text below were inspired by a conversation I had with conference Emcee Jamy Ian Swiss before I went on stage. He asked what I planned to say, and I told him, and he furiously defended his opposition to belief in Bigfoot. He wasn’t kidding. I hadn’t brought up Bigfoot, but I decided to mention him in my talk. Swiss didn’t let me take questions, so I promised the audience that I would post the talk here (slightly edited) and would welcome skeptical comments or emails. [See also my follow-up posts here andhere.] –-John Horgan I hate preaching to the converted. If you were Buddhists, I’d bash Buddhism. But you’re skeptics, so I have to bash skepticism. Read
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