Addiction Sameness

Alcohol, Opiates, Fat and Sugar are all Addictive Substances: this blog is about that "addiction sameness".

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Silicon Valley Worries About Addiction to Devices

NOTE:  This article is a few years old but is very much relevant now.  Have people learned to disconnect from their digital devices yet?  Live with more balance and digital detox to reboot your brain and your soul.Notice the effect that time online is having on your relationships and your productivity.  Interactive technology has addictive properties.

Stuart Crabb, a director in the executive offices of Facebook, naturally likes to extol the extraordinary benefits of computers and smartphones. 

But like a growing number of technology leaders,he offers a warning: 
log off once in a while, and put them down.

In a place where technology is seen as an all-powerful answer, it is increasingly being seen as too powerful, even addictive.

The concern, voiced in conferences and in recent interviews with many top executives of technology companies, is that the lure of constant stimulation — the pervasive demand of pings, rings and updates — is creating a profound physical craving that can hurt productivity and personal interactions.

“If you put a frog in cold water and slowly turn up the heat, it’ll boil to death — it’s a nice analogy,” said Mr. Crabb, who oversees learning and development at Facebook.

People “need to notice the effect that time online has on your performance and relationships.”
The insight may not sound revelatory to anyone who has joked about the “crackberry” lifestyle or followed the work of researchers who are exploring whether interactive technology has addictive properties.

But hearing it from leaders at many of Silicon Valley’s most influential companies, who profit from people spending more time online, can sound like auto executives selling muscle cars while warning about the dangers of fast acceleration.

“We’re done with this honeymoon phase and now we’re in this phase that says, ‘Wow, what have we done?’ ” said Soren Gordhamer, who organizes Wisdom 2.0, an annual conference he started in 2010 about the pursuit of balance in the digital age. “It doesn’t mean what we’ve done is bad. There’s no blame. But there is a turning of the page.”

At the Wisdom 2.0 conference in February, founders from Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Zynga and PayPal, and executives and managers from companies like Google, Microsoft, Cisco and others listened to or participated in conversations with experts in yoga and mindfulness.

In at least one session, they debated whether technology firms had a responsibility to consider their collective power to lure consumers to games or activities that waste time or distract them.

The actual science of whether such games and apps are addictive is embryonic. But the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, widely viewed as the authority on mental illnesses, plans next year to include “Internet use disorder” in its appendix, an indication researchers believe something is going on but that requires further study to be deemed an official condition.

Some people disagree there is a problem, even if they agree that the online activities tap into deep neurological mechanisms. Eric Schiermeyer, a co-founder of Zynga, an online game company and maker of huge hits like FarmVille, has said he has helped addict millions of people to dopamine, a neurochemical that has been shown to be released by pleasurable activities, including video game playing, but also is understood to play a major role in the cycle of addiction.

But what he said he believed was that people already craved dopamine and that Silicon Valley was no more responsible for creating irresistible technologies than, say, fast-food restaurants were responsible for making food with such wide appeal.

“They’d say: ‘Do we have any responsibility for the fact people are getting fat?’ Most people would say ‘no,’ ” said Mr. Schiermeyer. He added: “Given that we’re human, we already want dopamine.”

Along those lines, Scott Kriens, chairman of Juniper Networks, one of the biggest Internet infrastructure companies, said the powerful lure of devices mostly reflected primitive human longings to connect and interact, but that those desires needed to be managed so they did not overwhelm people’s lives.

“The responsibility we have is to put the most powerful capability into the world,” he said. “We do it with eyes wide open that some harm will be done. Someone might say, ‘Why not do so in a way that causes no harm?’ That’s na├»ve.”

“The alternative is to put less powerful capability in people’s hands and that’s a bad trade-off,” he added.

Mr. Crabb, the Facebook executive, said his primary concern was that people live balanced lives. At the same time, he acknowledges that the message can run counter to Facebook’s business model, which encourages people to spend more time online. “I see the paradox,” he said.

The emerging conversation reflects a broader effort in the valley to offer counterweights to the fast-paced lifestyle. Many tech firms are teaching meditation and breathing exercises to their staff members to help them slow down and disconnect.

At Cisco, Padmasree Warrior, the chief technology and strategy officer and its former head of engineering, a position where she oversaw 22,000 employees, said she regularly told people to take a break and a deep breath, and did so herself. She meditates every night and takes Saturday to paint and write poetry, turning off her phone or leaving it in the other room.

“It’s almost like a reboot for your brain and your soul, she said. She added of her Saturday morning digital detox: “It makes me so much calmer when I’m responding to e-mails later.”

Kelly McGonigal, a psychologist who lectures about the science of self-control at the Stanford School of Medicine (and has been invited to lecture at the business school at Stanford), said she regularly talked with leaders at technology companies about these issues.

She added that she was impressed that they had been open to discussing a potential downside of their innovations. “The people who are running these companies deeply want their technology and devices to enhance lives,” said Dr. McGonigal. “But they’re becoming aware of people’s inability to disengage.”

She also said she believed that interactive gadgets could create a persistent sense of emergency by setting off stress systems in the brain — a view that she said was becoming more widely accepted.

“It’s this basic cultural recognition that people have a pathological relationship with their devices,” she said. “People feel not just addicted, but trapped.”

Michelle Gale, who recently left her post as the head of learning and development at Twitter, said she regularly coached engineers and executives at the company that their gadgets had addictive properties.

“They said, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that.’ Or, ‘I guess I knew that but I don’t know what to do about it,’ ” recalled Ms. Gale, who regularly organized meditation and improvisation classes at Twitter to encourage people to let their minds wander.

Google has started a “mindfulness” movement at the company to teach employees self-awareness and to improve their ability to focus. 

Richard Fernandez, an executive coach at Google and one of the leaders of the mindfulness movement, said the risks of being overly engaged with devices were immense.
“It’s nothing less than everything,” he said, adding that if people can find time to occasionally disconnect, “we can have more intimate and authentic relationships with ourselves and those we love in our communities.”
Google, which owns YouTube, earns more ad revenue as people stay online longer. But Mr. Fernandez, echoing others in Silicon Valley, said they were not in business to push people into destructive behavior.

“Consumers need to have an internal compass where they’re able to balance the capabilities that technology offers them for work, for search, with the qualities of the lives they live offline,” he said.

“It’s about creating space, because otherwise we can be swept away by our technologies.


July 23, 2012
Silicon Valley Says Step Away From the Device

Silicon Valley Worries About Addiction to Devices -

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Canadian Medicine: Pesticide punch

News and views from the editors of Parkhurst Exchange

Latest headlines

Wednesday, 15 June, 2011

Pesticide punch

Wading through the produce aisles

If you think apples don’t taste like they used to, you’re probably right. The Environmental Working Group ( has just updated its list showing pesticide levels in 53 types of produce, and apples – formally No. 4 of their “Dirty Dozen” – now weigh in at No. 1!

Researchers at Purdue University in Lafayette, IN, analyzed 51,000 pesticide residue tests done over 10 years (2000-2009) by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Federal Food and Drug Administration. 98% of the apples tested contained pesticides out of over 700 samples. And most of the fruit and veggies under scrutiny had been washed and peeled, in order to represent more realistic eating conditions.

Others that made the Dirty Dozen were celery, strawberries and peaches – which contained 57 different chemicals – along with greens such as kale, lettuce and hot peppers – treated with as many as 97 pesticides.

If we stick to Canada’s Food Guide we’d consume a minimum of five servings of Mother Nature’s bounty every day. By choosing these from the least contaminated foods we’d ingest less than 2 pesticides. However, picking them from the Dirty Dozen would up our daily pesticide intake to 14 different chemicals – some of which are associated with nervous system disorders, chronic problems including cancer, endocrine system dysfunction, and lower intelligence levels in kids – who may (along with those in the fetal stage) be the most vulnerable to the synthetic residues.

There’s also evidence that the phosphorus-rich fertilizers used in fields have contributed to the toxic blue-green algae blooms in our freshwater lakes, reported to cause vision loss and difficulty walking in some people who’ve been in contact with it, but that’s another story.

When organic produce isn’t readily available -- at the market, or due to budgetary constraints – these lists could be your best shopping companions.

Milena Katz

RE: calculating the percentage change in these pesticides brought about by processing= over 90%

McIntosh, Red Delicious, and Golden Delicious from two years of experimental spray programs using azinphos-methyl, chlorpyrifos, esfenvalerate, and methomyl were processed into frozen apple slices, applesauce, single-strength juice, and juice concentrate.
Residue levels were expressed as micrograms per 150 g of apple or the equivalent amount of apple product to calculate the percentage change in these pesticides brought about by processing. Producing single-strength apple juice reduced azinphos-methyl, chlorpyrifos, esfenvalerate, and methomyl residues by 97.6, 100, 97.8, and 78.1%, respectively.
Production of applesauce reduced all four compounds by ≥95%. Azinphos-methyl, chlorpyrifos, esfenvalerate, and methomyl residues were reduced in apple slices by 94.1, 85.7, 98.6, and 94.7%, respectively. Processing is shown to be very effective in reducing the levels of these pesticides.

Keywords: Pesticides; azinphos-methyl; chlorpyrifos; esfenvalerate; methomyl; apples; food processing; apple slices; applesauce; apple juice


Reduction of Azinphos-methyl, Chlorpyrifos, Esfenvalerate, and Methomyl Residues in Processed Apples
M. J. Zabik,*† M. F. A. El-Hadidi,† J. N. Cash,‡ M. E. Zabik,‡ and A. L. Jones§
National Food Safety and Toxicology Center, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, and Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48823

Canadian Medicine: Pesticide punch

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A vegan bodybuilding experiment: Joshua Knox

Published on Dec 5, 2012 A fateful blizzard on a drive to Tahoe led to a conversation about food and nutrition, which inspired bodybuilder Joshua Knox, a Google employee, to go vegan for a week. One week turned into a 1.5 year lifestyle experiment with bodybuilding and diet.

A vegan bodybuilding experiment: Joshua Knox at TEDxFremont - YouTube

Pharma groups hope for diet drugs binge -

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People line up to buy food at a fast food restaurant in Harlem in New York

As Christmas overeating gives way to under-fulfilled new year diets, the pharmaceutical industry’s appetite has been whetted for a fresh surge in business.

After years of caution and setbacks, several drug companies are preparing to capitalise on what they hope will be a surge in sales from prescription medicines linked to the growing global trend of obesity.

Obesity drugs and factors data

On this story
Editorial Love your gut bugs
Scientists link obesity to gut bacteria
Allergan obesity business attracts buyers
US Size of problem requires mass awareness-raising
Food and drink Battle to keep lawmakers sweet
IN Pharmaceuticals
Lundbeck boosts medicine production
Eli Lilly settles bribery charges
Amgen pleads guilty to illegal drug marketing
Merck warns over drugs price cut as fiscal fix

“It has been a very challenged category, but there is a feeling we have to do something about obesity with the realisation that it is a medical epidemic,” says Peter Tam, president of Vivus, a California-based biotechnology company. Last autumn it launched Qsymia, the first weight loss drug to win US regulatory approval in 13 years.

In the coming weeks, Arena, another West Coast biotech, is set to launch its drug Belviq after receiving authorisation. A third, Orexigen, is preparing to submit for fresh regulatory approval for its experimental medicine Contrave after previous rejections.

“There has been a very significant and rather sudden shift in the views of the regulator over the past year,” says Simos Simeonidis, senior biotech analyst with Cowen. “Companies had been laying off staff and putting products on hold. Now there has been a resurgence and a lot of investor interest.”

Weight loss drugs have long been viewed with suspicion by healthcare specialists both because of their limited efficacy and the risks of side effects – factors which continue to haunt the field. Qsymia’s weight loss impact is slightly more than 10 per cent and Belviq’s less than 6 per cent – both when tested in ideal conditions with strong medical supervision.

Surgery more effective

Alongside diet and exercise, popping a pill may appear to be the easiest and most painless way to lose weight, writes Andrew Jack. But recent studies suggest that intrusive surgery is a more effective – and potentially even more cost effective – approach.

Prescription medicines, let alone over-the-counter drugs, are a lucrative business, sold on the back of consumer demand to tackle rising levels of obesity. Yet the side effects and low efficacy leave many specialists unconvinced of their value.

With obesity rates continuing to rise, such approaches have rarely led to any significant and sustained amount of weight loss. Furthermore, it may be many years before medical complications appear, making insurers reluctant to pay for drugs. They often limit their use to those who are already severely overweight, by which time reversal may be still more difficult.

In such extreme cases, bariatric surgery to physically reduce the size of the stomach and cut the appetite has offered considerable promise. It has won endorsement by institutions including the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, the UK government’s medical watchdog that frequently rejects medicines for not being cost effective.

Even less palatable experimental options – so-called “transpoosians” – are also demonstrating promise. They involve the transplant of faecal matter from other individuals to boost bacterial flora in the guts, which are now seen as important in determining obesity.

While surgery is costly, complicated and places pressures on cash-strapped hospitals, its long term impact could yet outweigh the vast amounts spent today on medicines with limited impact.

Meanwhile, Wyeth, now part of Pfizer, is still fighting claims of heart valve defects and other problems linked to Fen-Phen, a combination of diet drugs withdrawn in 1997 for which it earmarked reserves of $21bn to cover settlements. Regulators subsequently pulled Abbott’s drug Meridia, and – in Europe – both Servier’s Mediator and Sanofi’s Acomplia, which was linked to suicidal feelings.

Only one prescription weight loss drug has remained on the market in the US: Roche’s Xenical, approved in 1999 and also now sold over-the-counter by GlaxoSmithKline as Alli. It appears relatively safe, but only modestly effective and brings unpleasant side effects including oily stools. That has limited its commercial success and frustrated attempts by GSK to find a buyer.

Mr Tam suggests that fresh interest in diet drugs by US regulators began in 2007 with studies on the significant impact of bariatric surgery in reducing not only obesity but related mortality. In recent months, he says high-level scientific meetings coupled with public discussion led by Michelle Obama, the US first lady, may have proved important in urging a more receptive attitude towards medicines.

For now, larger western pharmaceutical companies remain reluctant, with little in their late-stage pipelines except for Novo Nordisk of Denmark, the specialist diabetes company. It is currently testing expanded use of its injectable treatment Victoza for weight loss.

Japanese companies have proved more active: Eisai partnered with Arena and Takeda with Orexigen. Mr Simeonidis suggests this may reflect that until recently the investments in weight-loss biotech companies were “a free option” given high scepticism and low valuations. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we start to see more involvement from big pharma now.”

For now, Mr Tam says Vivus is rebuffing alliances. “We have preferred to shake off suitors and do it alone to maintain value for our shareholders.” But he foresees the prospect ahead of using direct-to-consumer advertising and a larger scale sales force to market Qsymia to doctors – something likely to require a big pharma partner.

The path will not prove easy. Vivus had to agree a tight monitoring programme with US regulators to track each user, notably to avoid the risk of its use by pregnant women, since Qsymia can cause birth defects. The more aggressively any of the new diet pills are marketed, the greater the risks of misuse, failure to ensure the drug is accompanied by diet and exercise and danger of consumer disappointment.

Gary Palmer, chief medical officer in the US for Eisai, which will co-ordinate Belviq’s launch for Arena, says: “We are still considering whether to use direct-to-consumer advertising. Our approach will start with specialists. This is about being responsible and educating the physicians.”

Concerns linger about safety. Sidney Wolfe, head of the health research group at Public Citizen, a US consumer watchdog that has fought approval of the new drugs, wrote recently: “Obesity is unquestionably a serious public health concern, but that doesn’t give the FDA licence to ignore the scientific evidence.”

European regulators, stung by their recent bad experiences with Acomplia and Mediator, remain sceptical and have so far not approved the newer drugs. And many health insurers in the US remain cautious about reimbursing a medicine with modest efficacy and only potentially very long-term benefits – leaving consumers to pay out of pocket.

Donny Wong, head of metabolic disorders at Decision Resources, a market research agency, predicts rising obesity will increase demand in the years to come. But he warns: “Expectations are really sky high. Patients are expecting at 55 years old to go back to their ideal weight at 20, with a 15-20 per cent loss that is unachievable. They will very rapidly become disappointed.”

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Pharma groups hope for diet drugs binge -

Why Bodybuilding at Age 93 is a Great Idea: Charles Eugster at TEDxZurich - YouTube

Published on Nov 27, 2012

Of the recent changes that the human race has experienced, the increasing population numbers are especially dramatic and worrying coupled with the frightening great and continuous increase in obesity and the resultant diabetes pandemic. A particular amount of attention has been given to the rapid and continuing growth of longevity.
Yet our knowledge of the aging process is still very limited as what we observe is the result of a health-destroying lifestyle. Retirement creates invalids. Chronic disease is rampant in old age resulting in such enormous medical costs that should present trends continue, together with the diabetes pandemic, some countries could become bankrupt. Diabetes is already an international public health issue and inactivity is one of the biggest killers. The loss of wasted human potential and wealth is already immense.

Successful aging requires work, diet and exercise. The huge mental and physical potential of the aged remains unexplored. Bodies can now be rebuilt at any age and a new life started. Beauty kings and queens in the 80-year-old category or a beach body at the age of 94 are not impossible. We will all, regardless of age, have to take greater responsibility for our own health in order to confront the immense challenges confronting the human race.

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Why Bodybuilding at Age 93 is a Great Idea: Charles Eugster at TEDxZurich - YouTube