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Health

#Jeffwecan

Marlboro Man

Jeff, the diseased lung and hopefully new mascot of Marlboro. Thanks LWT.

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Android Health

How to improve your sleep in seconds….

In this post Richard Wiseman recommends reducing the use of screens late at night because of the blue light emitted by them as that can keep you awake for longer.

I read books on my phone but I use Screen Filter To bring the brightness way down. Once I start reading a book I generally get sleepy within a dozen words or so! Anyway, I just installed the Twilight app that changes the temperature of the screen at different times of the day. At night it will make the screen go slightly red. I’ll give it a go tonight. Maybe I’ll look at the screen and fall into a deep sleep..

The irony is, I’m typing this at my PC where I should really have something like f.lux installed if I’m that worried about it.

Categories
Mind

Creating narratives to stay sane

Halo

One of my favourite podcasts is You are not so smart and the Halo effect episode last month brings together parts of David McRaney’s books and previous shows in a very entertaining two and a half hours plus.

Frankly, the halo effect scares the hell out of me. It’s impossible to be objective when judging others. No matter how hard you try, if one aspect of a person annoys you then you’ll unfairly judge the rest of their personality or ability.

Go listen to the podcast. It’s great.

PS. yes I noticed the scratched vandalism on the picture above, did you?

Categories
Health

Time to start walking again!

Christmas is over, back to school soon, time to start walking again!

The researchers found that reducing daily physical activity for even a few days leads to decreases in the function of the inner lining of blood vessels in the legs of young, healthy subjects causing vascular dysfunction that can have prolonged effects

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More discussion on Reddit.

Categories
Health

Snake oil salesman pitches to Dragons Den

His magic water cures cancer and many other ailments. Sounds legit!

Update! Steven Novella writes about The Miracle Cure for Everything in an excellent SBM piece.

The reality check of science may be disappointing to our emotional desires, but at the same time it has given us the actual ability to prolong life and improve quality of life significantly. I personally would never trade the hard-won knowledge of science for the comforting fictions of the cure-all.

Categories
Health

Stories from a homeopathic manufacturing plant

Take this with a grain (or essence) of salt because it’s the Internet but some of these stories were too good to disappear..

I have worked at a homeopathic manufacturing plant. Yes, there is always a starting material, however sometimes it can get really shady. Homeopathics are regulated by the FDA under CFR 211, so if you make stuff up (like lie about having a starting material), and they find out about it, you’re in big trouble.
For most herbals, the actual herb is purchased, then tested to make sure it’s the right variety. This can mean TLC (thin layer chromatography), which is what I was responsible for doing when I worked there. A lot of times we got in a different species of the herb, but used it anyway.
Sometimes a pathogenic starting material is used – in that case, we contacted out to a third party micro lab that keep strains in a controlled environment. We paid the micro guy a contract fee to do the dilutions himself which ended up being about $3500 because only he was licensed to deal with pathogens. We made 200 30 mL units out of that which sold for less than $1200 total. Such a waste.
Sometimes a material of animal origin is used. If it’s something weird, like bovine trachea, there really isn’t a good method to test it, so we kind of took the supplier’s word for it. Pretty shady.
One time we needed to do an extraction of “morning dew”, so we went outside in the morning, shook some water off of some weeds, weighed it, then did the dilution.
My favorite story is this one: We needed to do a dilution of uranium 200X. Problem, is you can’t get uranium (unless you’re Doc Brown), so we went to Hanford (this was a looong time ago) carrying a vial of water. When we got there and did a tour (the plant manager knew what we were going to do), we took the vial and held it up against a glass wall that was a close as we could get to the cooling chamber. That became our “1X” dilution. We went back to our lab and diluted it to 200X, in ethanol. We had a lot left over, and because it’s illegal in WA to dump large quantities of ethanol down the drain, we needed a disposal service. Unfortunately, when we tried to explain that it was a 200X dilution (and that there wasn’t even a single atom of uranium in there to begin with), they still wouldn’t take it, because it said “uranium” on the label. So we took a shovel and buried in the back of the plant, and never told anyone.

One time we needed to do a dilution of goldenseal. My lab partner dropped his pen in the mix. We didn’t want anyone to find out, so he reached in to grab it, covering his arm in goldenseal, a potent laxative. He spent the next several days with severe nausea.
One time a guy wanted us to make this product called singtu. It was a pretty standard herbal homeopathic, except at the end we were supposed to “sing to” the final product, using these chants that the customer prepared for us. At first we were like “no”, but money is money, so when he visited we sang the chants. After he left it became a joke to say the most vulgar things we could around it.
One time we needed to make a belladonna 1000X dilution. I had to sit there and make sure the compounder did it right. That was the most goddamn boring thing I have ever done. It took two solid days

Meanwhile, Heel, a company that made homeopathic “medicine” has left the US and Canadian markets after settling a class action lawsuit. They would have had to modify their packaging and advertising to be more truthful. Unfortunately they still operate in South America and Europe.

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And finally, I saw in the money section of “USA TODAY” a few weeks ago while on the way home from Automattic’s Grand Meetup that another company, Hyland, that makes homeopathic “medicine” is facing a class action lawsuit over their children’s cold and flu products. The first product, Hyland’s 4 Kids Cold ’n Cough has heavily diluted ingredients. While there might be some particles of the X6 ingredients left, there won’t be any of the X12 ingredients.

Categories
Health

The root canal that lasted eleven years

Ironically, while we were at the local vet with our dog Oscar having his teeth checked I felt a slight pain in my jaw. Over the next hour it got worse and the next day it was excruciating whenever I bit down too hard on food.

A trip to the dentist and an x-ray showed an infection below the tooth that eleven years ago caused me agony with a painful tooth ache that required a root canal. I was dumbstruck. Of all the bad luck, the tooth was supposed to be dead. My dentist said he only saw this happen 4-5 times a year. It’s very rare apparently.

So, my options are limited. I either have the tooth extracted or have an apicoectomy. That’s where they peel back the gum and “a tooth’s root tip is removed and a root end cavity is prepared and filled with a biocompatible material.” I made an appointment for an apicoectomy this morning.

Remember my bad luck? I was referred to a specialist. I was sitting on his chair when he asked what tooth it was. “Lower left 4” I replied, having burned that phrase to memory at my previous appointment. He gave me a look, and went on to explain that there’s a nerve from my lower lip going between teeth 4 and 5 and he’d be working very close to that. In very rare cases that nerve can be damaged and the lower left lip can become numb as a result. It could be temporary or permanent. I’m sure he saw the look of horror on my face.

Getting rid of that damned tooth is looking a lot more attractive right now! It’s always had it in for me. The last time it caused me pain was on the Sunday of a bank holiday so I had to wait until first thing on Tuesday morning to see a dentist. This time we were due to drive down to Ahakista in Co Cork for a weekend away. Thankfully my dentist made time to see me that Friday afternoon, antibiotics slowly killed the infection and my wife was a huge help and comfort. She bought Anbesol for me and that worked wonders to kill the pain as I would always accidentally bite down too hard resulting in muttered curses and shaking of my head to dull the pain.

I think the tooth will be coming out.

PS. Oscar got antibiotics and he’s feeling much better 🙂

Categories
Health

Are Artificial Sweeteners Harmful?

Some good news if you’re drinking a diet soda and people have warned you it’s poisonous.

Everything in moderation of course. I’d say don’t drink sodas (diet or otherwise) at all on a regular basis. (via Reddit)

Categories
Health Ireland

Irish girls denied cancer vaccine

I haven’t been listening to the news much of late. I’m not sure when that started but even if the news is on in the background, the droning voice of the newscaster usually goes in one ear and out the other.

Unfortunately for the Irish Government, and Mary Harney in particular, Red Mum is making sure that everyone hears about their disgraceful refusal to administer a vaccine against cervical cancer to every 12 year old girl in the country. More on the Irish Times website:

Minister for Health Mary Harney this evening said the economic situation had “rapidly and seriously” deteriorated since the plan was announced in August. The vaccination against strains of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) would have cost an estimated €9.7 milliion annually.

The decision was immediately criticised by the Opposition and by the Irish Cancer Society, which asked Ms Harney to make a clear commitment to restore the vaccination scheme “at the earliest possible opportunity”.

Gavin has a clip taken from TV3 news featuring John Crown, a cancer specialist denouncing the decision:

So what can you do? Join the Facebook Group or send Mary Harney, the minister for health, pictures of your daughters. Blog about it, contact your TD and tell them you’re very unhappy with the situation. 9.7m Euro is pocket change in the budget of a country, even one in a recession.

While on the topic of vaccines, my wife was told that the area we live in, Blarney, is overrun with cases of childhood measles and mumps. I’m glad my little boy was vaccinated with the MMR.

Categories
Health

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404 Speed not found

Just once, slow down on the way home from work this evening. You’ll get caught at traffic lights and that slow driver behind will catch up with you and give you the finger anyway. You’ll get home 60 seconds later, and you won’t be high on adrenaline or a raving lunatic with the stress of driving.