Showing posts with label health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label health. Show all posts

Friday, April 22, 2011

Dental X-rays is absolutely NOT safe !

Hey, Indonesian health authorities! say something about this fact! British  Government has warned its people of the criminal dentists...Also, Indon govt should announce that dental X-rays is really dangerous for human health. was kind of shocking when finding this article saying the dental radiology is not safe. So, why some dentists I attended said "it is very safe". How come they lie? Maybe this article's writer judgment is right that most dentist just want to line their own pockets...Oh, this is crappy..Then, one thing we can do as patients "speak up and sue them for making us doing an overtreatment"
Last week, the Government warned the public to ignore dentists who tell us to come for check-ups every six months. In fact, according to experts at the health watchdog, The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), most adults need to have a check-up only every two years.The experts at Nice first issued this advice seven years ago. But since then the dental industry has done much to obliterate this fact. It undoubtedly threatens to dent their incomes.
Are you seeing the dentist too often? Pointless X-rays and needless check-ups could be adding up to a rip-off | Mail Online
But even with the most morally scrupulous dentist, unnecessarily frequent check-ups may expose you to another danger. This is due to X-rays, which have long been a feature of routine dental checks.

The risk level is controversial, but British researchers warned last year that the more dental X-rays you have, the higher your risk grows of developing thyroid cancer. Their study of just over 300 thyroid cancer patients, in the medical journal Acta Oncologica, found that repeated X-rays significantly increased the risk of the disease, prompting the researchers to question the widely held belief that dental radiography is absolutely safe.

Certainly, the disease has become significantly more common in recent years. The researchers, led by Dr Anjum Memon, a consultant in public health medicine at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, report that the rates of thyroid cancer in the UK have doubled from 1.4 in every 100,000 people in 1975 to 2.9 per 100,000 in 2006.

A number of earlier studies have reported a link between dental X-rays and cancers of the thyroid, salivary glands and brain. It is known that dentists and their assistants are at higher risk of tumours. Dr Memon has called for a rethink on the use of X-rays as part of routine check-ups and for greater caution when using them on children.

A more positive reason for not traipsing to the surgery every six months is that we don’t have to worry about our wisdom teeth. Fashions have changed, so dentists should no longer be urging you to have them whipped out in case they cause trouble some day in the future.
The official guidance from Nice now is that unless your wisdom teeth are causing pain or pushing other teeth out of the way, they should be left exactly where they are. Around one in 100 people suffer serious nerve damage from wisdom-teeth removal, according to American Journal of Public Health. They can be left with no feeling in their lips, tongue and cheek.
Someone should have told that to the Arsenal striker Robin Van Persie, though. He was so convinced that his wisdom teeth were somehow responsible for a string of injuries that he had them pulled out in 2009. The expert advice now is that such fears are merely the stuff of tooth-fairy tales.
All of this should come as reassuring news to the many thousands of people who suffer extreme anxiety before they even enter a surgery. The Adult Dental Health (ADH) survey earlier this year found that one in five women, and one in ten men admit to being gripped by terror at the thought of the dentist’s chair.
It may also bring comfort to the growing numbers who guiltily fear that they can no longer afford to answer the dentist’s six-monthly summons. One in five of us have put off check-ups because of fear that the bills will be too high, according to the ADH survey.
Of course, common sense must prevail here. If you have problems such as inflamed gums, toothache, broken fillings and crowns or mouth sores that refuse to go away, then a prompt dental visit is a must. For the rest of us, aim to sit in the chair only once every two years. Quite simply, there is no good reason to put yourself through it any more often than that.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Fake drug

Fake drugs: Poison pills | The Economist


Fake drugs

Poison pills

Counterfeit drugs used to be a problem for poor countries. Now they threaten the rich world, too

DRUG smugglers can expect harsh penalties nearly everywhere—if the drugs in question are heroin or cocaine. Those who smuggle counterfeit medicines, by contrast, have often faced lax enforcement and light punishment. Some governments deem drug-counterfeiting a trivial offence, little more than a common irritant. After all, whose spam filter does not groan with ads for suspiciously cheap “Viagra”?

This could be changing, however. The pharmaceutical industry has persuaded several governments to stiffen regulations against fake drugs and to conduct more aggressive raids (see chart). Companies are also devising novel technologies to outfox the criminals. Even the Catholic church is joining the cause, issuing a stern statement in August that it is in “the best interest of all concerned that smuggling of counterfeit drugs be fought against”.

The pope’s concern is justified. Counterfeit drugs can kill. Many are shoddily made, containing the wrong dose of the active ingredient. Taking them instead of the real thing can turn a treatable disease into a fatal one. It can also foster drug resistance among germs. This has been a big problem for a long time in developing countries. Studies of anti-infective treatments in Africa and South-East Asia have found that perhaps 15-30% are fakes. The UN estimates that roughly half of the anti-malarial drugs sold in Africa—worth some $438m a year—are counterfeits.

Roger Bate of the American Enterprise Institute, a think-tank in Washington, DC, cautions that any such estimates should be treated with care. The countries with the most fakes may not be cracking down, so official figures will look rosy; in contrast, countries with a smaller counterfeit trade that are vigilant may end up with more seizures. The World Health Organisation agrees, and has recently taken its estimates off its website. Even so, Mr Bate says his field work has convinced him that counterfeits kill at least 100,000 people a year, mostly in the poor world.

Now it appears that fakes are taking off in the rich world too. Yes, Viagra still tops the list of knock-offs seen by Pfizer, says John Clark, the American drug firm’s global head of security; but fake versions of at least 20 of its products (including Lipitor, a blockbuster cholesterol drug) have been detected in the legitimate supply chains of at least 44 countries. Mr Clark’s intelligence comes from Pfizer’s global network of informants, consumer tip-offs and in-store inspections. He sees worrying trends.

Counterfeiters used to operate chiefly in developing countries, says Mr Clark, but now his firm sees fakes coming from such rich and well-regulated places as Canada and Britain. And the crooks are growing more technologically sophisticated: some can even counterfeit the holograms on packets that are meant to reassure customers that pills are genuine.

A consumer study funded by Pfizer recently found that nearly a fifth of Europeans polled in 14 countries had obtained medicines through illicit channels. That, the firm reckons, makes for a grey market in the EU of over €10 billion ($12.8 billion). Terry Hisey of Deloitte, a consultancy, thinks the global market for fakes could be worth between $75 billion and $200 billion a year. Those staggering sums, he argues, help explain the emergence of a flurry of new technologies and companies hoping to help the drugs industry “secure its global supply chain”.

In July Oracle, an American software giant, unveiled Pedigree, a programme that helps drugs firms “track and trace” pills all the way from the factory to your fingers. IBM has a rival offering, as well as one using radio-frequency identification (RfID) chips, which are embedded in packaging to detect tampering and allow precise tracking. 3M, a materials company, and Abbott Laboratories, an American medical firm, are also rolling out an RfID-based product. A division of Johnson & Johnson, a drugs giant, has developed web-based software to help customs officials quickly verify whether drugs are fake or real.

Poor countries find it hard to take advantage of such technologies. Sophisticated radio tags and database software are not much use in places where street hawkers peddle fakes with impunity. Still, even in such difficult circumstances, a combination of political will and business ingenuity can make a difference.

Bottom-up battle

A Ghanaian start-up firm, mPedigree, has come up with a clever way to use mobile phones in this fight. Participating drugs companies emboss a special code onto packages, which customers find by scratching off a coating. By sending a free text with that code, they can find out instantly if the package is genuine or a fake.

Bright Simons, the firm’s boss, argues that technologies like his can be a useful bottom-up complement to top-down enforcement. Having successfully completed initial trials, he says, mPedigree is ready to expand its service in the region. The government of Nigeria, where fakery is rife, recently declared its intention to adopt such a text-based validation system.

Thomas Kubic of the Pharmaceutical Security Institute, an industry-funded outfit, gives warning that this war will be hard to win. After more than 30 years as an investigator, he is sure that crooks will eventually find a way around any defence.

Even so, he thinks novel approaches such as mobile-based validation may “harden the target”, just as a burglar alarm makes your home somewhat trickier to rob. If the cost and complexity of faking drugs goes up, crooks may choose to fake Gucci handbags instead. This would still be theft, not to mention a crime against fashion. But it will not kill anyone.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Are vitamins important? Yes, they are definitely very important for my health. I don't remember exactly when I start using vitamins and food supplements regularly. But I have used vitamins since I was kid. I remember when I was in elementary school and junior high school, my mom supplied me a vitamin called Vidoran. However I stopped taking this when I graduated. Actually I didn't stop completely, I still used vitamins on and off.
Then I have started using vitamins and other food supplements when I was in university. But it was again on and off. Due to skin blemishes i got during my teens and colleges, I took zinc, vitamin c, and vitamin E. Again, during the course I didnt take the vitamins regularly.
However, after graduating from university, I started consuming pills more often than before. Even I have become a regular consumer for some products. Some of my Aussie friends said that I am addicted of food supplements. No, I am not addicted of them. I use them onlyb for health reasons, no more no less. Since I was born I was only be hospitalized when I was in elementary school. I never have had serious illness. I think this happens due to my health regimes. I seldom eat outside and I take vitamins regularly.
Many of my friends think my looks hasn't changed much since I graduated from university. I have many interesting stories about this. One happened in Australia last year. It was so funny when I was in Melbourne, attending a free event in Federation Square, a guy who was happening to perform, grabbed my hands and asking me to help him doing his performance. He was seeking a teenager and he was assuming me a teenager. I still remember that guy lol. Was amusing though he he he.
It's been 5 years I have taken vitamins and other supplements every single day. And, I feel, it has benefited me a lot. So, what vitamins and supllements I have used? Here are some of them. I have been a fan of them because it makes me feel good despite having so many problems :)
I have been a huge fan of Ester C. I have used it for 5 years. However when I was in Australia, I stopped using it because it was expensive. I used vitamins with local brands such as Blackmores, Herron, Natures Own, Swisse,Cenovis, Bioglan, etc. I am not kind of a customer only using one brand. So , I have used many brands. I would stock vitamins when they were discounted.

Friday, April 09, 2010

turning back the clock

Turning back the clock: things to consider - Telegraph

• Get a new haircut. It could make enough of a difference that you won’t feel a need to mess around with your face. In the same way, professional eyebrow shaping can “wake up” the face to a remarkable degree.

• Revise your skin care. A radiance-boosting serum (and eating foods rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids) can both help restore a glow to the skin.

• Enlist professional help to revise your make-up. Try Louise Constad’s, or Netia Hibbert (; 020 7795 1604), both of whom are brilliant at explaining what to do (and you won’t frighten the horses afterwards).

• Supercharge your diet with vitamin-rich vegetables, fruit and salads, plenty of oily fish (or supplements) to boost levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids and litres of water to ensure digestive health. It will all help to enliven your skin.

• Try a facial-muscle stimulator; the Tua Trend has a great reputation for firming saggy jowls. £209 from


• Choose your practitioner with care. Ideally, get a personal recommendation, or go via a reputable organisation: the British Association of Cosmetic Doctors (; the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons ( or, for consultant dermatologists, many of whom also have a private practice, the British Association of Dermatologists( ).

• Don’t just sign up with the first doctor or surgeon you see. Have a consultation, see what they suggest, and see if you like them. Ask to see before and after pictures of previous clients. Then ask if you can speak to any of these people. Any good practitioner should have a string of fans happy to sing his or her praises. Then visit someone else, for a comparison. It is your money and your face, so take your time.

• Don’t be surprised if you find it’s a nurse who’s doing the injecting, rather than the doctor. Nurses often do Botox or fillers all day, and are very good at it. Also, don’t be surprised if your practitioner is a former GP who has retrained in the more lucrative practice of non-surgical anti-ageing, rather than being a dermatologist (there are relatively few dermatologists doing work of this sort). If they are well trained and have plenty of experience, they may well be doing great work.

• Don’t be pressured into having anything more done than you feel comfortable with.

• Do be realistic about what, say, Botox could do for you. You can expect improvements, but not miracles.


• Laser skin resurfacing: using multiple pinpoint beams of laser energy to encourage the skin to grow new collagen. Fraxel re:pair is the most aggressive, but most effective, of the methods available. From £3,500; Dr Nick Lowe, Cranley Clinic, London W1(020 7499 3223).

• Liposculpt: non-invasive method body-contouring that uses ultrasound waves to break up fat cells, together with radio waves to smooth and tighten the skin. Course of three treatments, from £977. For clinics, see

• Thermage face and body lifting: uses radiofrequency energy to tighten slack skin and boost the production of collagen. From £1,950 (; 020 7460 7324).

• Dermaroller: A small roller with multiple needle-fine spikes that is worked across the skin, to stimulate regeneration of the tissues. Treatments from £250 (

Thursday, March 25, 2010

It is hailed as a historic victory, but what does the bill really amount to?
By David Cairns

After years of intense debate in the legislature, across the nation
and throughout the media, Barack Obama's healthcare reforms, which
have divided the US as nothing has since the Vietnam war, are to
become law.

A vote last night in the House of Representatives will take the
country closer than it has ever been to universal healthcare and
spells historic victory for the President and his Democrats - while
Republicans believe it will lead to their opponents' downfall at the

"This is what change looks like," said Obama late last night at the
White House, Vice President Joe Biden at his side. "Tonight, at a time
when the pundits said it was no longer possible, we rose above the
weight of our politics.

"This legislation will not fix everything that ails our healthcare
system, but it moves us decisively in the right direction," he added.

In a few hours' time, the President is expected to sign the bill into
law. The bill was passed by 219 votes to 212, with every Republican
voting against it – and 34 Democrats, some of whom feared it as a
vote-loser. When the ballot hit the 216 needed to ensure their
victory, Democrats hugged each other, cheered and chanted Obama's
campaign slogan: "Yes we can!"

What will the bill do?The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,
which will cost $940bn over 10 years, will bring healthcare to 32m
more of the USA's poorest people, taking coverage across the country
to 95 per cent.

Its main provisions are to make health insurance almost mandatory,
targeting individuals and employers; to vastly increase the threshold
that determines who is eligible for financial healthcare support from
the state; to reduce the price of drugs available to them and to
prevent insurers from refusing to cover people with pre-existing
medical conditions.

How are the American public reacting?As the bill came closer to law
over the weekend, thousands of protesters gathered in Washington DC to
heckle congressmen. Some hurled racist and otherwise derogatory
remarks at African-American members including one of the 1960s civil
rights veterans, John Lewis. A congressman was spat on, and another
was calleda "faggot".

It is no exaggeration to say the reforms have split America. While the
anti-Obama 'Tea Party movement' (some say it is less a movement and
more a Republican-orchestrated campaign) might still have come into
being with or without the reforms, they have provided a focus for it -
and for all Obama's opponents. The Republicans believe their staunch
opposition to reform will hand them power at this year's mid-term
elections, though Democrats argue that once the bill is law it would
be political suicide for anybody to attempt to withdraw it. And the
bill will certainly silence critics of Obama as a 'do nothing

Is the bill now certain to become law?Yes, it is - but a second bill,
containing amendments to the first, still has to be passed. It's
thought it easily will be, because of a deal between Democrats in the
US's two legislatures – the lower 'House of Representatives' (or
'House') and the upper 'Senate'. But Republican voices have already
been raised in complaint that this deal is "unconstitutional".

Last night's vote in the House was on a version of the healthcare
reform bill already passed by the senators, who have made changes that
Democrats in the House don't like. They agreed not to argue about
those changes when Senate leader (and Democrat) Harry Reid promised
that if they instead submitted a second bill with their amendments,
his senators would pass that unopposed. This second "reconciliation"
bill will go before the Senate later this week and could be wrangled
over for weeks – but will almost certainly become law.

What about truck-driving reform-killer Scott Brown?Many observers
thought Obama's healthcare reforms bill had been scuppered by the
shock election victory in January of Republican former male model and
self-proclaimed truck driver Scott Brown. Brown took the veteran
uber-Democrat Ted Kennedy's seat in the Senate on the latter's death,
busting the Democrats' majority of 60 out of 100 seats. To pass
without incident, a Senate bill needs a 60 to 40 majority, not 51 to
49, so this looked disastrous for Obama.

Obama's great escape was via the reconciliation bill deal. By couching
their amendments to the healthcare bill in a separate,
'reconciliation' bill, the Democrats found a procedural loophole: this
type of bill only needs a simple (51 to 49) majority to pass, and
their 59 Senators should manage that without upset.

Has the bill been watered down?As the BBC's North America editor, Mark
Mardell, writes in his blog today: "Many liberals feel there have been
so many compromises the bill is hardly worth it." Some wanted to go
much further, instituting an NHS-style system. But Obama's supporters
say he has achieved reforms which eluded Presidents including Teddy
Roosevelt, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

In January, the Democrats almost withdrew the bill in its current
form. After the news came in that they had lost their 60-seat Senate
majority, some in the party wanted to amend the bill to a safer
version more likely to be passed. But, after some internal wrangling,
the idea was rejected and they pushed ahead with the bill as it stood.

The bill's final victory was only assured after Obama cut a deal with
anti-abortionist representatives, including a proviso that prevents
federal money being spent to "encourage" abortion. An exception was
made for forced or incestuous pregnancies.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Do you have trouble remembering where you left your car keys? Do you struggle to recall people's names? A study from Cambridge University suggests that regular aerobic exercise - such as jogging - can significantly boost memory by triggering the growth of grey matter in the brain. But are there other things we can do to develop our brain cells? We asked eight-times World Memory Champion Dominic O'Brien, author of Learn To Remember and a host of bestselling memory books, for his tips...


Simply put, memory is the mental activity of recalling information that you have learned or experienced.

A memory is stored as a result of complex electrical signals which cause a change in the physical structure of the brain. Whether a memory is stored as a short or longterm one depends on exactly how the event is received by the brain.

Memory: If you don't want to be as forgetful as a goldfish, there are exercises you can do to get your brain up to speed

Memory: If you don't want to be as forgetful as a goldfish, there are exercises you can do to get your brain up to speed


This is a system within the brain that is used for temporarily storing and managing information. We use short-term memory to remember an address we've just looked up or to compare prices of different items in the supermarket, for example.

Short-term memory generally holds information for only ten to 20 seconds, but it is vital for any activity that requires conscious thought - even something as simple as understanding this sentence.

Items stored in our short-term memory tend to be discarded fairly rapidly, however. It can normally hold approximately seven pieces of information simultaneously - new data displaces whatever is already there. As a result, short-term memory is easily lost.


This exercise will reveal how much data you can hold in your short-term memory before it is replaced. Ask a friend to write down and then read out four random single digit numbers (from 1-9) at the rate of one number per second. Once all four have been read out, try to write them down in order, from memory.

If you can do it correctly, try five numbers. If you are able to recall five numbers correctly, move on to six, and so on. The average memory span for normal adults is six numbers.



This involves the information you make a conscious or unconscious effort to retain because it has a personal meaning. For example, information about friends and family; the best places to buy certain items - or events and situations that have had an emotional impact on you.

Some long-term memories require a conscious effort to recall: memories about specific experiences; or facts which can be everything from the names of insects to the colour of your bedroom curtains. Another type of long-term memory is procedural memory, which involves skills such as tying your shoelaces - you can do them 'standing on your head'.



Certain areas of the brain are especially important in the formation and retention of memory:

The hippocampus (so- called because it's shape resembles a seahorse) is a structure in the brain that has the main role in processing information as long-term memory.

The amygdala, an area near the hippocampus, processes emotion and helps to imprint emotive memories in the brain.

The cerebral cortex - the outer layer of the brain, stores most longterm memory in different zones, depending on what kind of processing the information involves: speech, sensory input, problem-solving, etc.

Memory also involves communication among the brain's network of neurons, which are millions of cells activated by brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.


There are three stages the brain goes through to make memories:

1. Acquiring new memories

All day long new information enters your brain along pathways between your neurons (nerve cells). But if you don't stop to concentrate, the data might as well go in one ear and out the other. If you focus intently, whatever you are trying to remember is encoded in the brain, the first step to memory-making.

2. Storing away the words, numbers and pictures

If you've concentrated hard enough to encode something, your hippocampus sends a signal to store the information for the long-term. This is easier if it's related to something you already know, or provokes an emotional reaction from you.



3. Retrieving the information

Every time you need to recall a memory, your brain has to activate the exact same pattern of nerve cells that it used to store it. The more frequently you think about the information, the easier it is to retrieve.


As we saw in the Cambridge University study this week, regular aerobic exercise is very important for brain health as it boosts the circulation and increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the brain.

Regular exercise also reduces the risk of disorders such as stress, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which can adversely affect brain

function. Some experts also believe exercise can enhance the effects of helpful chemicals and protect brain cells.


A good night's sleep is thought to play an important role in the consolidation of memory. The theory goes that during sleep the brain is relieved from handling the constant barrage of stimuli with which it is bombarded during waking hours. While we are asleep, our minds are free to review, organise and file the experiences of the day.

Sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnoea can play havoc with recall, because they leave you tired and unable to concentrate during the day.


Smoking heightens the risk of circulatory disorders that can cause strokes and constrict arteries that deliver oxygen to the brain.


A diet based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and 'healthy' fats will provide lots of health benefits, and can also improve memory and brain function.

• B vitamins protect neurons by breaking down homocysteine, an amino acid that is toxic to nerve cells. They're also involved in making red blood cells, which carry oxygen. Best sources are spinach and other dark leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus, strawberries, melons, black beans and other legumes, citrus fruits and soybeans.

• Antioxidants such as vitamins C and Ehave been linked to a slowing of age-related memory loss. Best sources are berries, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, green tea, nuts and seeds, citrus fruits and liver.

• Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with cognitive function. They count as 'healthy' fats, protecting against inflammation and high cholesterol. Best sources are oily fish, walnuts and walnut oil.

Adapted from How To Develop A Brilliant Memory Week By Week (£5.99) and Learn To Remember (£7.99) by Dominic O'Brien, published by Duncan Baird Publishers. To order (p&p free), call 0845 155 0720.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

How to Grow Marijuana is taught at Detroit's new cannabis college

Students taught how to grow marijuana i | Society |

It goes without saying that there's no smoking in class. But there is a good deal of sniffing of leaves, discussion of the finer points of inhaling and debate over which plant gives the biggest hit.

Welcome to Detroit's cannabis college, recently opened with courses on how to grow marijuana – and harvest, cook and sell it too – after Michigan legalised the drug as a medicine.

Students get instruction from horticulturalists, doctors and lawyers as well as hands-on experience cultivating plants and guidance on how to protect their stash from the criminal element.

"Growing pot by chucking seeds in the garden is fine for the recreational industry," says the college co-founder, Nick Tennant, whose wholesome and youthful appearance, including acne-covered cheeks, startles some of the more ragged-looking students. "But when we're using this from a medicinal standpoint, you really need to document your strains and your genetics. The horticultural process is very complex. If you want to do it right you're going to need to learn. There's a lot of money in this if you do it right."

With more than 1,000 medical marijuana certificates issued each month in Michigan for users and growers to sell to them, there is demand for places at MedGrow Cannabis College, located in a small office block.

Among the first students paying $475 (£285) for six evening classes are people reliant on marijuana for pain relief and those who help them, including a clergyman who runs an Aids clinic.

Then there are young men such as Ryan Hasbany, a 20-year-old business student. He's still a year too young to get a grower's licence but he wants to learn the trade. "My father is a family practice doctor and he is issuing medical marijuana cards so I know there are a lot of people getting them. It could turn into a very lucrative business. The street prices are ridiculously high," he says of medical grade marijuana, which sells at $250 (£150) an ounce in Michigan. "There's Harvard economists who say this is what we need to bring the economy back."

Hasbany has no hesitation in admitting that he might be in a good position to judge the quality of what he grows. "I smoke it. In my high school graduating class, I'd say 25% of them were smoking it," he said.

Michigan became the 14th state to legalise medicinal marijuana this year after about two-thirds of voters supported the measure in a referendum. The move reflects growing acceptance of the drug in large parts of the country. In the past week, the US's first marijuana cafe opened in Oregon and Colorado ordered cannabis sales subject to tax.

The path was carved by California, where permission to buy marijuana requires little more than telling a sympathetic doctor it would make you feel better. Attitudes are changing in Washington too, where the Obama administration has told the FBI and other federal agencies to adhere to state marijuana laws in deciding who to arrest.

For all that, there is still hesitation over identification with what is now a legal industry in Michigan.

The first class of the evening at cannabis college is led by a physician who wants to be known only as Dr Powell. "Don't mention my first name. It'll make it harder for them to identify me," he says.

Powell explains to the students the range of conditions that permit him to issue a medical marijuana certificate, from cancer and Aids to a broad category of severe chronic pain. "If someone's had back surgery or a gunshot wound," says Powell.

There are questions. "Can I get it for gout?" asks a student. Powell thinks it unlikely.

The doctor says he is not concerned about addiction but regular cannabis users should find an alternative to smoking. That's why the course also includes a cookery class with recipes as varied as hash cakes and marijuana sushi.

The horticulture lecturer is even more wary than the doctor about being identified. "They might ask how I know how to grow all this stuff," he says. "I've been doing it for rather longer than it's been legal."

He, like many of those who lecture at Cannabis College, is also a consumer because of severe injury in a bad sporting accident. Tennant obtained a medical marijuana certificate to deal with a stomach condition that causes nausea. It is what brought out his acne.

The horticulturalist pulls open a couple of large white doors that act as an entire wall at the front of the classroom. Bright white light streams through the cracks and across the classroom to reveal a den of silver-lined walls, air conditioning ducts, fans and intense lights. At the heart sit a handful of plants – some of them bushes really.

The teacher runs through soil versus hydroponics, lights (red and blue better than LED), pruning (pluck, don't cut) and the intricacies of cloning. There's an explanation of ozone generating devices to cover the smell. "You might not want the neighbours to know. You don't want them raiding your house for your supply," he says.

Pasted to the wall is a chart of the labyrinth of marijuana species, their effect on different diseases and their particular tastes.

The horticulturist explains that there's money to be made from the trade in medicinal marijuana but growers must tailor the plant to the customer's need. "There's pot that makes you not shut up for five hours. There's pot where you sit on the couch and drool for five hours. That's not what you need if you're going to hold down a job. There's thousands of people getting patient cards and they all have needs. If you can work out how to meet those individual needs you're gonna get rich," he says.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Breastfeeding can kill you

Breastfeeding debate revived after death of British mother Katy Isden | Health & Lifestyle |
T was anything but the Hallmark moment she had been expecting.

Sitting among the flowers and cards, clutching her first-born child, my sister Lia could do nothing but sob.

Left alone in her hospital room and attempting to breastfeed her new daughter for the first time on her own, she felt her anxiety skyrocket, the mother guilt take over.

A broken emergency buzzer didn't help, nor post-birth hormones and lack of sleep.

But almost two hours after she'd begun trying to attach her baby's small mouth to her painfully engorged breasts, my niece was screaming and so was her struggling mum.

So consumed by getting it right and worked into a frenzy by the ordeal, it's still not clear exactly when it was that Lia lost control of the muscles on one side of her face.

Within hours doctors diagnosed her with Bell's Palsy, a paralysis of the facial muscles which some believe is triggered by environmental, emotional or physical stress.

In this case, the stress of feeding her child.

Instead of enjoying what was meant to be the happiest time in her life, my beautiful sister was left feeling like a failure and believing herself the Elephant Man.

Her experiences with the births of her next two children were equally traumatic, marred by a recurrent sense of inadequacy and in the case of her third, mastitis so bad she was forced to temporarily relinquish care of her family to seek medical help.

News, then, of the death of 30-year-old British mother Katy Isden, who fell to her death from a New York apartment block after becoming depressed over her bid to breastfeed, should well shock the world but will not surprise mothers with tales like my sister's.

"I'm surprised there are not more mothers like this poor woman," Lia said yesterday.

"The pressure to breastfeed, the anxiety to be this super person, is just no way to live."

The coroner said that although Mrs Isden had been depressed when she died, it was not clear if she fell or jumped. He therefore recorded an open verdict.

Meanwhile, the issue of breastfeeding rages once more.

The research about the benefits of feeding babies "naturally" - delivering vital nutrients and a bond between mother and child - appears black and white.

But for many it's anything but a natural experience; rather a grey area of conflicting advice and a trauma that can torture women.

While some advocacy groups stand accused of adding to the anxiety in the battle between breast or bottle, there is no doubt support is the key to relieving the pressure.

Extra funding for the Australian Breastfeeding Association's national helpline resulted in a 30 per cent increase in those seeking help since March, with more than 28,328 calls taken between October and April.

Carey Wood, a mother of four and ABA volunteer for 10 years, endorses breastfeeding as a valuable "learned skill" but says there's much more to mothering.

"So many of us have issues," she said. "This is a matter of seeking assistance, not being left to feel like a failure.

"The solution is for the community to get behind mothers rather than patronising them with the 'breast is best' slogan. It's what's best for you and your baby that counts, not breastfeeding at any cost."

Friday, February 13, 2009

Public Health Experiment and Scaremongering

The worrier's guide to 21st century health - New Idea
According to the headlines, everything in our modern- days lives could be harming our health, from new Wi-Fi technology to food additives.

By embracing these discoveries and technology, are we unwittingly taking part in a public health experiment, or should we take the scaremongering with a pinch of salt? We take a look at the potential risks and come up with some solutions.

Everyday chemicals
Cleaning products and food packaging contain man-made chemicals.

‘The chemicals in many products have real health effects,’ says Adam Lowry, co-founder of the Method ecological range of household cleaning products. ‘Indoor air is up to five times as polluted as the outdoors and contains five to 10 times as many pesticides.’

Pesticides, paraffins, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other chemicals are thought to cause asthma, skin irritation, allergies and headaches.

Manufacturers insist chemicals are subject to safety regulations. ‘Studies linking asthma with household products aren’t based on fact,’ says Dr Chris Flower of the UK’s Cosmetic, Toiletry & Perfumery Association.

If there’s a natural alternative, use it and reduce your ‘toxic load’.


* Use eco-friendly cleaners and organic toiletries.
* Redecorate with low-VOC paints.
* Have house plants – they absorb up to 87 per cent of indoor pollution.
* Open windows to renew air daily.
* Ditch air fresheners in favour of vaporising essential oils.

Wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) connects us to the internet via radio waves, not cables.

Radio waves have been around since the late 1800s, but some people worry that modern frequencies will affect us in new ways.

Some research shows Wi-Fi affects kids’ concentration, so it shouldn’t be in schools until we know more,’ says Jane Alexander, author of The Overload Solution (Piatkus, $24.95).

2007 UK TV investigation claimed radiation levels from Wi-Fi in some schools were up to three times those of a mobile mast, but authorities disagree. ‘The radio frequencies used in Wi-Fi are broadly the same as for FM radio,’ says Dr Michael Clark from the UK’s Health and Protection Agency (HPA).

The HPA says sitting in a Wi-Fi hot spot for a year gives the same dose of waves as a 20-minute mobile phone call.

‘If you’re a man, use a laptop on a table, not your lap. The heat they generate may affect male fertility,’ says Professor Malcolm Sperrin from Royal Berkshire Hospital in the UK.

Fast food
Takeaways seem too handy and tasty to resist. Are they really so unhealthy?

‘Most fast food contains too much saturated fat and salt, which can increase risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and stroke,’ dietitian Helen Stracey says.

Worst of all are trans fats, which the World Health Organization wants us to eliminate completely. They raise bad cholesterol, lower good cholesterol, affect how our liver uses fat and mean higher fat deposits around your tummy. Trans fats are man-made in the food industry when liquid oil is solidified by hydrogenation.

Additives are another problem, as some have been shown to affect children’s behaviour. A 2007 study in The Lancet medical journal found some preservatives could cause hyperactivity and allergic reactions.

Most convenience foods may affect health if eaten often. Stick to fresh, unprocessed food.


* Check labels for fat and salt levels.
* Have takeaways as an occasional treat.
* Stop seeing fast food as convenient. What’s faster than beans on wholegrain toast?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

anti-smoking social marketing and new smoking cessation services

Government tipped to ban tobacco displays in shops |
THE State Government is expected to ban cigarette retail displays in its Tobacco Control Strategy, due for release today.

A discussion paper released in August revealed the Government was wondering whether to completely ban tobacco retail displays, or restrict them to one square metre.

Under a total ban, no cigarette packets would be allowed to be visible inside or from outside a shop.

They would have to be covered or moved under the counter, though retailers would be allowed to display a price board.

Health insiders yesterday predicted the Government would choose this option, following a similar law enacted last month in NSW. However, a Government spokesman declined to comment yesterday.

Cigarettes are sold at about 11,000 retail outlets in Victoria, which would be given time to redesign their point-of-sale displays before the law came into force.

In NSW, big outlets were to be allowed six months, and smaller shops a year.

Specialist tobacconists were likely to be exempt from the rules.

The strategy also includes extra money for programs to tackle Victoria's alarmingly high indigenous smoking rates, as reported by The Age two weeks ago.

It is expected to ban smoking in government school grounds and in cars carrying children, and may extend the ban to smoking in a car containing anyone under the age of 18.

Temporary tobacco stands at major events such as the Big Day Out will also be outlawed.

The strategy is part of the Government's Cancer Action Plan, released last week.

The plan said the tobacco strategy would include "anti-smoking social marketing and new smoking cessation services", including support for pregnant smokers who wanted to quit.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Debunking Medical Myths

6 Medical Myths for the Holiday Season - Well Blog -
Last year, the British medical journal BMJ reported on a series of medical myths that even doctors believe. Among them: Turkey makes you drowsy. Dim light ruins your eyes. Drink at last eight glasses of water a day.

This year, the same researchers, Dr. Aaron Carroll and Dr. Rachel Vreeman of the Indiana University School of Medicine, offer six new medical myths for the holiday season. The latest set of myths, published this month in BMJ, are commonly believed by the general public and many doctors, said the researchers. However, a search of the medical literature shows these myths aren’t true or lack evidence to support them.

“Even widely held medical beliefs require examination or re-examination,” the study authors wrote. “Both physicians and non-physicians sometimes believe things about our bodies that just are not true.”

Here are the six new commonly believed medical myths they’ve identified.

1. Sugar makes kids hyperactive.

The researchers cite 12 controlled studies that couldn’t detect any differences in behavior between children who had sugar and those who did not. Even when kids had a diagnosis of hyperactivity problems or were said to be more sensitive to sugar, they did not behave differently whether they ate sugar-laden or sugar-free diets. In fact, the biggest effect of sugar may be on parents. Parents rate their children as being more hyperactive if they are told the child has consumed sugar — even when the child hasn’t really had any sweets.

2. Suicide increases over the holidays.

Suicides are more common during warm and sunny times of the year, studies show. There is no evidence of a holiday peak in suicides.

3. Poinsettias are toxic.

Among 22,793 poinsettia exposures reported to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there were no deaths or significant poisonings. A study of poinsettia ingestion found that when rats were given doses equal to a person consuming 500 to 600 poinsettia leaves, the plant wasn’t toxic.

4. You lose most of your body heat through your head.

This is the myth that Dr. Carroll and Dr. Vreeman believed to be true. They found out that the belief likely originated with an old military study where subjects wearing arctic survival suits lost most of their body heat through their heads. But that was because the head was the only bare part of their bodies. Typically, we don’t lose more than 10 percent of body heat through our heads. The bottom line is that any uncovered part of the body will lose heat, which is why wearing a hat, even when you’re bundled up everywhere else, is important.

5. Night eating makes you fat.

Studies show an association between obesity and eating more meals late in the day, but that doesn’t mean eating at night causes obesity, the doctors point out. Eating more at any time of day will cause weight gain if it results in ingesting more calories than you need.

6. Hangovers can be cured.

The researchers found no scientific evidence supporting any type of cure for alcohol hangovers. Because hangovers are caused by drinking too much alcohol, the only way to avoid one is to drink very little or not at all.

Next year, the doctors plan to provide more research on medical myths in their new book, “Don’t Swallow Your Gum: Myths, Half-Truths, and Outright Lies About Your Body and Health,” to be published by St. Martin’s Press.

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