Addiction Sameness

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

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

International Vegetarian Union

International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
IVU logo
North America: early 20th Century
Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
Webivu.org

IVU on Facebook:
 



Physicist, Nobel Prize winner 1921
The latest indications we have suggest that Einstein was vegetarian only for the last year or so of his life, though he appears to have supported the idea for many years before practising it himself.
"So I am living without fats, without meat, without fish, but am feeling quite well this way. It always seems to me that man was not born to be a carnivore."
This was from a letter written to Hans Muehsam, and dated March 30, 1954, which was about 1 year before Einstein died. This indicates he adopted a vegetarian diet at the end of his life. Previously, on August3, 1953 Einstein had written the following in a letter to Max Kariel, suggesting that he was still eating meat at that time:
"I have always eaten animal flesh with a somewhat guilty conscience." 
- Einstein Archive 60-058
The above quotes are from: The Expanded Quotable Einstein, collected and edited by Alice Calaprice. The book flap of Ms. Calaprice's book says: "Alice Calaprice is a Senior Editor at Princeton University Press, where she has specialized in the sciences and worked with the Einstein Papers for over twenty years."

The following quote originated from Ms. Joan Gilbert (USA) who provided it to Jon Wynne-Tyson (UK) for his book, THE EXTENDED CIRCLE, published in 1985.
It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living by its purely physical effect on the human temperament would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind. - Letter to 'Vegetarian Watch-Tower', 27 December 1930
David Hurwitz, who contributed the quotes at the top of this page, has added the following:
Alice Calaprice, has released the latest edition of her collected and edited quotes by Albert Einstein entitled, "The New Quotable Einstein." Now there is a solid source for the quote, complete with a document number in the Einstein Archive.
"Although I have been prevented by outward circumstances from observing a strictly vegetarian diet, I have long been an adherent to the cause in principle. Besides agreeing with the aims of vegetarianism for aesthetic and moral reasons, it is my view that a vegetarian manner of living by its purely physical effect on the human temperament would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind." Translation of letter to Hermann Huth, December 27, 1930. Einstein Archive 46-756
A biography of Einstein says that he was still living in Germany in 1930, only emigrating to the USA in 1932. It also says that he suffered a health breakdown in the late 1920s which would be consistent with giving some thought to his diet, but we have no indications that he actually became vegetarian himself at this time.
Between 1882 and 1935 the Deutscher Vegetarier-Bund (German Vegetarian Federation) publishedVegetarische Warte. The picture on the right is the cover of the December 15, 1898 issue. An English/German dictionary translates 'Warte' as: observation point, viewpoint, control room - it seems likely that this is the 'Vegetarian Watch-Tower' (a slightly odd translation but quite possible).
The date of the letter and that given to the magazine are identical - December 27, which could suggest that the attribution to a magazine was mistaken as it would have appeared some time later than the letter. It seems likely that the magazine printed the date of the letter and that got confused, with the date of the later magazine.
Hildegund Scholvien, of the Vegetarier-Bund Deutschlands (re-formed in 1945), has most of the old issues of theVegetarische Warte. She sent the following comments:
I tried to find that Einstein quotation in the "Vegetarische Warte", issue 12, Dez. 1930, but I could not find it. However I do not have the original magazine, only copies of the articles. The pages are complete, 365-392, only the cover is missing. Maybe the quotation, due to its importance, was on the front cover.
At that time the president of the Vegetarier-Bund Dr. Gustav Schl├Ąger und Mr. Friedrich Schulenburg were editors of the "Vegetarische Warte". Mr. Hermann Huth was vice-president of the society.
However: Dr. Schl├Ąger was ill and died at the end of November 1930. Therefore it might be possible that Hermann Huth (as vice president) was the editor of this special issue. In December 1930 a new board of the Vegetarier-Bund was elected, and Dr. Bruno Wolff was elected president and editor, Mr. Hermann Huth vice president again.
Unfortunately I don't have issue no. 1 of 1931, so I can't check, whether the quotation could be in that issue.

These quotes give some insight into other aspects of Einstein's thinking:
"What is the meaning of human life, or, for that matter, of the life of any creature? To know an answer to this question means to be religious. You ask: Does it make any sense, then, to pose this question? I answer: The man who regards his own life and that of his fellow creatures as meaningless is not merely unhappy but hardly fit for life." - Mein Weltbild, Amsterdam: Querido Verlag, 1934.
A human being is a part of the whole, called by us the 'Universe', a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest - a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security. - New York Post, 28 November 1972
The following quotes are completely unverified, information about the sources of any of them would also be useful:
"Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." (this looks like a bad translation from German of the one above, we can find no other source for it...)
"Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from that of their social environment. "
"It is easier to denature plutonium than to denature the evil spirit of man.""The important thing is not to stop questioning."



"Only a life lived for others is a life worth living!"


Source:http://www.ivu.org/history/northam20a/einstein.html




The Future of Medicine


Thursday April 16, 2015
The 2014 BBC Reith Lectures -
The Future of Medicine, Part 1




Dr. Atul Gawande (Tim Llewellyn)

LISTEN TO FULL EPISODE 53:59


**Originally aired on January 26, 2015.


Surgeon, professor and author Atul Gawande dissects a field defined by what he calls "the messy intersection of science and human fallibility."


In hour one, Why Do Doctors Fail? about imperfection in medicine, andThe Century of the System about the dominance of treatment systems. In hour two, The Problem of Hubris about the limits of what professionals can do, and The Idea of Well-being, about shifting focus from medical survival to general well-being. Part 2 airs on Thursday, April 23

"We have 13 different organ systems and at the latest count we've identified more than 60,000 ways that they can go awry. The body is scarily intricate, unfathomable, hard to read. We are these hidden beings inside this fleshy sack of skin and we've spent thousands of years trying to understand what's been going on inside. So the story of medicine to me is the story of how we deal with the incompleteness of our knowledge and the fallibility of our skills."

- Dr. Atul Gawande


Dr. Gawande practices general and endocrine surgery in Boston. That's when he's not teaching at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Harvard Medical School. Or writing books. Or conducting research or analyzing health policy, or lecturing. In this talk, he's putting medicine itself on the operating table, to see how it works, and how it might work better.


Dr. Atul Gawande delivered the prestigious BBC Reith Lectures in the fall of 2014. In this episode, we present Atul Gawande's first two lectures about The Future of Medicine. Dr. Gawande delivered the first one at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. His second lecture was delivered at the Wellcome Collection in London.

It's named after the medical pioneer Sir Henry Wellcome.


Related Websites:

The BBC Reith Lectures

Dr. Atul Gawande's website

Dr. Atul Gwanade's TED Talk - How do we heal medicine?


Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.


Surprising Things That Can Damage Your Liver


Sugar

Too much sugar isn’t just bad for your teeth. It can harm your liver, too. The organ uses one type of sugar, called fructose, to create fat. Too much refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup cause a fatty buildup that can lead to liver disease. Some studies show that sugar can be as damaging to the liver as alcohol, even if you’re not overweight. One more reason to limit foods with added sugars, like soda, pastries, and candy.


MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)

MSG enhances the flavor of many packaged and prepared foods, from chips to diet drinks. (You might see it on a food label as “hydrolyzed vegetable protein,” “yeast extract,” or “soy extract.”) Still, some studies of animals suggest that the chemical may make the liver fatty and inflamed, which can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and liver cancer. Scientists need more research to know if MSG affects humans the same way.

Comfrey

Comfrey is a shrub found in Europe and Asia. Its leaves have a chemical that reduces swelling and keeps skin healthy, so you can find it in some pain-relieving creams. But comfrey also has substances that harm the liver. Don’t use a product that has it for more than 10 days at a time or for more than 6 weeks total in a year. Apply only very small amounts, and never put it on broken skin.


Herbal Supplements

Just because the label says “natural” doesn’t mean it’s safe. One serious danger is kava kava, an herb that can relieve menopause symptoms and help you relax. Studies show it can keep the liver from working, causing hepatitis and liver failure. Some countries have banned or restricted the herb, but it’s still available in the U.S. You should always talk to your doctor before you take any herbs to make sure they’re safe.


Obesity

If you’re carrying around extra weight, fat can also build up in your liver cells, which can lead to NAFLD. It can make the liver swell. Over time, hardened scar tissue can replace healthy tissue (a condition doctors call cirrhosis). People who are overweight or obese, middle-aged, or have diabetes are at highest risk of NAFLD. There’s no cure, but eating well and exercise can sometimes reverse the disease.


Too Much Vitamin A

You can find vitamin A in eggs and milk as well as fresh fruits and vegetables, especially those that are red, orange, and yellow. Many supplements also include it since it helps improve vision, strengthen bones, and give a boost to your immune system.  But in very high doses, vitamin A is toxic to the liver. To stay safe, never take more than 10,000 IU a day.


Unsterile Tattoos

When you get a tattoo or body piercing in a licensed, clean shop that sterilizes its equipment after each customer, the chances you’ll get a serious infection like hepatitis C are low. But if tools aren’t properly cleaned, your risk of hep C shoots up. The virus spreads through contact with the blood of an infected person and causes serious, sometimes lifelong liver illness. Check out the shop and its safety record before you get inked. 



Soft Drinks

Scientists studied the diets of a group of people with NAFLD, taking into account their weight, the amount of fat in their blood, and if they had diabetes. One thing stood out: 80% of them drank 2 or more soft drinks a day. It didn’t matter if it was calorie-free or regular soda, which means an ingredient besides sugar could play a role in the condition. There’s no hard evidence, but some researchers think artificial sweeteners might be to blame.

Antidepressants

It’s rare, but some antidepressants can harm your liver, even if you take them for only a few days. In some cases, the damage can be deadly. Older people or anyone taking a lot of other meds are at higher risk because their liver may be damaged already. If you’re taking antidepressants, talk with your doctor to make sure you’re on the smallest dose you need. Make sure you know the symptoms of liver illness to watch for.

Trans Fats

Trans fats are a man-made fat common in packaged foods and baked goods. (You’ll see them listed in the ingredients as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” or “vegetable shortening.”) A diet high in trans fats not only boosts your chances of gaining weight, it makes severe liver disease with scar tissue more likely. In one study, mice that ate a fast-food diet high in trans fats had liver damage after only 4 months.









Source: http://www.webmd.com/hepatitis/ss/slideshow-surprising-liver-damage?ecd=wnl_men_042715&ctr=wnl-men-042715_nsl-ld-stry&mb=%2fYEUKcm5jBiihqPGg%2fPGD2dEpmNqbUHLAOXXq3hWp98%3d



Monday, April 27, 2015

Children Encouraged to Smoke Cigarettes, Indonesia



In this photograph taken on May 16, 2010 two-year-old Indonesian boy Ardi Rizal puffs on a cigarette while playing on a plastic toy jeep in the yard of his family home in a village on Sumatra island. A new video of a smoking Indonesian toddler has emerged to shock health experts and provide further graphic illustration of the Southeast Asian country's growing addiction to tobacco. His father reportedly gave him his first cigarette when he was 18 months old and now he smokes 40 a day. Child Protection Ministry official Heru Kasidi said the family would be investigated for what would be considered a clear case of child abuse in many countries.










Indonesia's smoking epidemic – an old problem getting younger

Many male smokers now start their habit at age seven, with activists blaming weak regulations and the tobacco industry



He is a thoroughly modern icon: the cherubic toddler now known around the world as the "smoking baby." More than 13 million people have watched a YouTube clip of the two-year-old puffing hungrily on cigarette after cigarette, twirling them in his hands. But while many viewed this video with amusement and perhaps some shock, it appears this "smoking baby" is just the tip of the iceberg.
Indonesia, the fourth most populous country on earth, appears to be in the throes of an uncontrolled tobacco habit. It is a place where domestic and international tobacco companies are able to operate ways they haven't been able to in the U.S. for 41 years.
This is a country where, as soon as a visitor steps off the plane, he is bombarded with cigarette ads on billboards and logos; and where, as "2020" found out, there is more than one "smoking baby."
In a tiny fishing village in Eastern Java, lives an adorable two-year-old boy named Chairul. Soon after awaking from a nap, he lights up with the help of his own grandfather. The grandfather says he allows Chairul to smoke because it tastes good, "like bread with chocolate."
As Chairul smokes beside him, his grandfather said he doesn't think it is a problem.
"He sometimes smokes two packs a day," he said, though it appears Chairul does not inhale. Yet he puffs away, exposed to the smoke around him.
When warned about the health effects of cigarettes, Chairul's grandfather said: "If the boy doesn't smoke, he doesn't feel good." It's all right, he said, "as long as he drinks enough coffee with his cigarettes."
As strange as that may seem, Chairul is no fluke. In a town a few hours to the south, "20/20" found a seven-year-old boy who also smoked while his family looked on.
His name is Maulana, and his mother said he has been smoking since he is two, but she hopes he quits when he goes to school this year.
As to why she allows her son to smoke, Malauna's mother said: "I can't just stop him abruptly, because he gets weak and cries. It has to be done slowly."
It is estimated that about a million children in Indonesia under the age of 16 smoke, and that one third of Indonesian children try smoking before the age of 10. In Indonesia, it is perfectly legal for a child of any age to buy and smoke cigarettes.
This, despite hundreds of international studies showing tobacco is addictive and harmful. The World Health Organization says tobacco kills more than five million people annually.
In the U.S., tobacco companies haven't been allowed to advertise on TV in 41 years. So, unable to market freely at home, big tobacco has increasingly turned overseas, where they are using the very tactics to reach young people that have long been banned in America



Monday, April 20, 2015

Seroquel XR


Drug Trial's Frayed Promise

By KATIE THOMAS



A study of the drug Seroquel XR for patients with borderline personality disorder exposes the tangled mess of interests for academics and universities involved in clinical trials for the pharmaceutical industry.




Source: go to NYTimes.com/Business »



Sunday, April 19, 2015

Prison sex



 Why We Let Prison Rape Go On.


ORANGE, Conn. — IT’S been called “America’s most ‘open’ secret”: 
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, around 80,000 women and men a year are sexually abused in American correctional facilities. 
That number is almost certainly subject to under-reporting, through shame or a victim’s fear of retaliation. Overall, only 35 percent of rapes and sexual assaults were reported to the police in 2010, and the rate of reporting in prisons is undoubtedly lower still.
To tackle the problem, Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act, signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2003. 
The way to eliminate sexual assault, lawmakers determined, was to make Department of Justice funding for correctional facilities conditional on states’ adoption of zero-tolerance policies toward sexual abuse of inmates.
Inmates would be screened to identify possible predators and victims. Prison procedures would ensure investigation of complaints by outside law enforcement. Correctional officers would be instructed about behavior that constitutes sexual abuse. And abusers, whether inmates or guards, would be punished effectively.




Credit Ben Jones




But only two states — New Hampshire and New Jersey — have fully complied
with the act. Forty-seven states and territories have promised that they will do so. Using Justice Department data, the American Civil Liberties Union estimated that from 2003 to 2012, when the law’s standards were finalized, nearly two million inmates were sexually assaulted.

Six Republican governors have neglected or refused to comply, complaining of cost and other factors. Rick Perry, then the governor of Texas, wrote to the Justice Department last year stating that 40 percent of the correctional officers in male facilities in Texas were women, so that “cross-gender viewing” (like witnessing inmates in the shower, which contravenes the legal guidelines) could not be avoided. The mandated measures, he said, would levy “an unacceptable cost” on Texas, which has one of the highest rates of prison sexual assault.

For its noncompliance, Texas is likely to lose just 5 percent of federal funding for its state prisons, or about $800,000. It will still receive $15.2 million in federal grants even as inmates continue to be sexually assaulted. If Congress passes an amendment that Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, proposed last year, the financial penalty for noncompliance will be removed altogether.
Ultimately, prisons protect rape culture to protect themselves. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about half of prison sexual assault complaints in 2011 were filed against staff. (These reports weren’t all claims of forcible rape; it is considered statutory sexual assault for a guard to have sexual contact with an inmate.)
The Justice Department estimates that the total bill to society for prison rape and sexual abuse is as high as $51.9 billion per year, including the costs of victims’ compensation and increased recidivism. If states refuse to implement the law when the fiscal benefit is so obvious, something larger is at stake.

According to Allen Beck, senior statistical adviser at the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “institutional culture and facility leadership may be key factors in determining the level of victimization.” 
Rape persists, in other words, because it’s the cultural wallpaper of American correctional facilities. We preserve the abuse because we’re down with perps getting punished in the worst ways.
Compliance does not even cost that much. 
The Justice Department estimates that full nationwide compliance would cost $468.5 million per year, through 2026. Even that much is less than one percent of states’ spending on corrections. Putting aside the cruelty and pain inflicted, prison rape costs far more than the implementation of the law designed to stop it.




Chandra Bozelko is the author of the poetry collection “Up the River: An Anthology.”

A version of this op-ed appears in print on April 18, 2015, on page A19 of the New York edition with the headline: Why We Let Prison Rape Go On. 


 Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/18/opinion/why-we-let-prison-rape-go-on.html?emc=edit_th_20150418&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=59725256&_r=0

Abuse of Attention Deficit Pills - Adderall, Vyvanse and Concerta

 
Workers Seeking Productivity in a Pill Are Abusing A.D.H.D. Drugs


By ALAN SCHWARZ

Interviews with users and treatment experts suggest a growing number of young American workers are taking stimulants to enhance concentration and stamina at work.

The so-called "smart" pills are versions of the drug Adderall, an amphetamine-based stimulant prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder that many college students have long used illicitly while studying. Now, experts say, stimulant abuse is graduating into the work force.

Reliable data to quantify how many American workers misuse stimulants does not exist, several experts said.

But in interviews, dozens of people in a wide spectrum of professions said they and co-workers misused stimulants like Adderall, Vyvanse and Concerta to improve work performance. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing their jobs or access to the medication.

Doctors and medical ethicists expressed concern for misusers’ health, as stimulants can cause anxiety, addiction and hallucinations when taken in high doses. 

Doctors also worried about added pressure in the workplace — where the use by fellow workers pressures more to join the trend.

“You’d see addiction in students, but it was pretty rare to see it in an adult,” said Dr. Kimberly Dennis, the medical director of Timberline Knolls, a substance-abuse treatment facility for women outside Chicago.

“We are definitely seeing more than one year ago, more than two years ago, especially in the age range of 25 to 45,” she said.

Elizabeth, a Long Island native in her late 20s, said that to not take Adderall while competitors did would be like playing tennis with a wood racket (the Lance Armstrong defense).

“It is necessary — necessary for survival of the best and the smartest and highest-achieving people,” Elizabeth said. She spoke on the condition that she be identified only by her middle name.

Most users who were interviewed said they got pills by feigning symptoms of A.D.H.D., a disorder marked by severe impulsivity and inattention, to physicians who casually write prescriptions without proper evaluations. Others got them from friends or dealers.

Obtaining or distributing stimulants without a prescription is a federal crime, but the starkest risks of abuse appear to be overdose and addiction.

A 2013 report by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that emergency room visits related to non-medical use of prescription stimulants among adults 18 to 34 tripled from 2005 to 2011, to almost 23,000.


The agency also reported that from 2010 to 2012, people entering substance rehabilitation centers cited stimulants as their primary substance of abuse 15 percent more often than in the previous three-year period.

Just how stimulants like Adderall might improve work performance, and to what extent, remains a matter of scientific debate.

But many young workers insist that using the drugs to increase productivity is on the rise — and that these are drugs used not to get high, but to get hired.

“Given the increase in rates of abuse in college students over the last decade, it is essential that we understand the outcomes as they leave college and assume adult roles,” Dr. Wilson Compton, the deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in an interview.


After founding her own health technology company, Elizabeth soon decided that working hard was not enough; she had to work harder, longer. Sleep went from an indulgence to an obstacle.

So she went to a psychiatrist and complained that she could not concentrate on work. She received a diagnosis of A.D.H.D. and a prescription for Adderall in about 10 minutes, she said.

“Friends of mine in finance, on Wall Street, were traders and had to start at 5 in the morning on top of their games — most of them were taking Adderall,” Elizabeth said. “You can’t be the one who is the sluggish one.”


Researchers in the field are quick to caution that, despite stimulants’ reputation as “smart pills,” few studies suggest that they improve a person’s ability to learn or understand. But they often improve attention and motivation, particularly for tedious tasks, which can increase productivity — or at least the appearance of it.

Some industries have banned the use of stimulants for reasons of safety or fairness. The Federal Aviation Administration forbids pilots to use the medications under any circumstances. Major League Baseball players and other athletes had long abused amphetamines to increase focus and endure exhausting travel schedules, but the drugs are now considered performance-enhancers allowed only with a confirmed A.D.H.D. diagnosis.

Interviews with people who have misused the pills showed them to be a diverse group. A dentist in eastern Pennsylvania prescribed herself Adderall and other stimulants for years...

One house wife said she had abused Adderall as a stay-at-home mother of three for years.

While many studies have assessed the prevalence of misuse among college students, no doctor or researcher contacted for this article could cite a formal assessment of misuse among adults to improve job performance.

But Dr. Anjan K. Chatterjee, the chairman of neurology at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia and an expert in the field of cognitive enhancement, said that even without conclusive data, misuse was undoubtedly rising. “Kids who have been using it in high school and college, this is normalized for them,” Dr. Chatterjee said. “It’s not a big deal as they enter the work force.”

The number of stimulant misusers who become addicted is unclear. 

But supply has risen sharply: 
About 2.6 million American adults received A.D.H.D. medication in 2012, a rise of 53 percent in only four years, according to Express Scripts, the nation’s largest prescription-drug manager. Use among adults 26 to 34 almost doubled.

Most experts say a proper evaluation for the disorder typically requires an extensive inquiry into a patient’s history of impulsivity and inattention. Yet misusers routinely described brief chats with doctors to get a prescription.

Two lawyers in Houston said wearing a suit to their medical appointments guaranteed no scrutiny. Those lawyers said they and dozens of young colleagues at their firms had casually traded and used pills to work into the night and billed hundreds of extra hours a year in the race for partnerships.

One said he had originally taken 20 milligrams of Adderall a day, moving up to 100 milligrams — almost double the highest dose recommended by the Food and Drug Administration — by getting prescriptions from multiple doctors, a felony in Texas. His productivity thrilled his unquestioning bosses and clients.

Then came the downside: rapid heartbeat, profuse sweating and acute anxiety due to sleep loss. These overwhelmed any positive effects on his work performance, he said, and transformed his personality to the point that his wife divorced him. After he lost his job, he spent six weeks at a drug treatment center.

In her New York apartment, where floor-to-ceiling white boards were scribbled with nascent projects, Elizabeth considered what her generation appears willing to swallow for success.

“It’s like this at most of the companies I know with driven young people — there’s a certain expectation of performance,” she said, banging away on that PowerPoint presentation as her own pills kicked in.

“And if you don’t meet it,  someone else will.”





Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/19/us/workers-seeking-productivity-in-a-pill-are-abusing-adhd-drugs.html?ref=todayspaper



Monday, April 13, 2015

Untested Stimulant Still in Dietary Supplements

Vitamins and Supplements




Researcher Criticizes the FDA continued...
Untested Stimulant Still in Dietary Supplements


By Brenda Goodman, MA
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD




April 7, 2015 -- Reearchers are warning consumers to avoid dietary supplements labeled as having the active ingredient Acacia rigidula.

The supplements claim to aid weight loss, boost energy, and sharpen attention. But about half of the 21 “natural” acacia products tested by researchers contained a lab-made stimulant called BMPEA, which stands for beta-methylphenylethylamine.

“Whenever you buy a weight loss product, the best you can hope for is that it doesn’t work. But why I would strongly caution against it is that the risk of getting a drug, and maybe even a drug that’s never been tested in humans, is real,” says Pieter Cohen, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard University.

The test results are published in the journal Drug Testing and Analysis.

Acacia rigidula is a shrub that grows in parts of Texas and Mexico. And BMPEA, which is related to the stimulant drug ephedrine, is the latest speed-like chemical to taint dietary supplements, researchers say.

In 2004, the FDA banned the stimulant Ephedra after it was linked to fatal strokes and heart attacks, heart palpitations, seizures, and psychiatric problems.

In 2012, the agency warned 10 manufacturers to remove the stimulan
t DMAA from their products after supplements containing the ingredient led to cases of liver failure so severe, some people who took them needed transplants. DMAA has also been linked to at least one death.


But the agency has yet to warn consumers or recall products that have BMPEA in them.

In response to Cohen’s findings, the FDA says its first priority when it comes to dietary supplements is ensuring safety.

“While our review of the available information on products containing BMPEA does not identify a specific safety concern at this time, the FDA will consider taking regulatory action, as appropriate, to protect consumers,” says JuliAnn Putnam, an FDA spokesperson, in an emailed statement.

Researcher Criticizes the FDA

While researching the chemical, Cohen says he found something he calls disturbing: In 2012, the FDA’s own scientists also tested acacia supplements and found BMPEA in about half the products they tested. And they determined -- by testing Acacia rigidula leaves -- that there was no such compound in the plant. Their study was published in 2013 in the Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis.

Cohen, a leading critic of the dietary supplement industry, calls the FDA’s decision to wait for evidence of harm “grossly irresponsible,” especially since Canadian and European regulators have already taken action to keep Acacia rigidula supplements off store shelves.

“If they wait long enough, I suspect they'll have that level of evidence to remove BMPEA from the market. But what are they going to say to a mother who lost her son taking BMPEA supplements? How are they going to explain two years of inaction?” he asks.

Even worse, by making that statement, Cohen says the FDA is essentially giving “the green light to other companies to experiment with introducing their own designer drugs into supplements.”

In fact, Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, the Norcross, GA-based company that makes 10 of the supplements Cohen tested, recently put out a press release claiming that the “proprietary weight loss and energy ingredient” in its Acacia rigidula supplements is more potent than both caffeine and ephedrine.

Cohen says BMPEA was first created in the lab in the 1930s. It was shown to cause spikes in blood pressure in dogs and cats and to cross easily into the brain, but it was never tested in humans.

“It made the animals’ hearts race and blood pressure go up,” Cohen says. “We can’t even guess what it does to people.”

In a study posted online , Patrick Jacobs, PhD, an exercise physiologist in Miami, FL, says he gave the supplement Fastin-XR, which is made by Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, to 10 healthy, active men between the ages of 18 and 45. His study found that Fastin boosted some measures of metabolism more than caffeine, acacia extract, or a placebo. But it also raised the men’s blood pressures and led to more confusion and tension. Hi-Tech cites his research in their press release.

Jacobs didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Hi-Tech has been on the FDA’s radar before. In 2013, federal marshals seized dietary supplements worth $2 million, because the company ignored the agency’s warning to stop making pills containing DMAA. In response, the company sued the FDA for its “bullying” tactics.
 
Last year, a judge ordered company executives jailed because they ignored a court order to recall supplements being sold for weight loss that were not supported by reliable scientific evidence.

On Tuesday, a woman who answered the phone for Hi-Tech said company executives were on vacation and couldn’t be reached for comment.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), a trade association representing dietary supplement makers, says the FDA should act to protect consumers.

“We share the concerns of Dr. Pieter Cohen and his study co-authors regarding BMPEA … a synthetic drug-like substance, not a dietary ingredient,” Steve Mister, the association’s president and CEO, says in a statement.

The “FDA has the tools it needs under the law to take action before there are serious health consequences, and CRN is asking the agency to do just that.”









Link: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/news/20150407/bmpea-acacia-rigidula-supplments?page=1



Sunday, April 12, 2015

California Drought



Embedded image permalink

Almonds?
Cows?

Who's the worst water guzzler in California's 

drought? 

We round up suspects:














Source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2015/04/12/398757250/beyond-almonds-a-rogues-gallery-of-guzzlers-in-californias-drought

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The Twitter home of NPR's James Beard Award winning food blog, The Salt, plus links to all of NPR's other food coverage.
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 Almonds: A Rogue's Gallery of Guzzlers In California's Drought


APRIL 12, 2015




DAN CHARLES

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Leif Parsons for NPR


California is parched. Wells are running dry. Vegetable fields have been left fallow and lawns are dying. There must be some villain behind all this, right?


Of course there is. In fact, have your pick. As a public service, The Salt is bringing you several of the leading candidates. They have been nominated by widely respected national publications and interest groups.


There's just one problem: Not all of these shady characters live up to their nefarious job description. Let us explain.


1. Almonds


Both Slate and Mother Jones have reported that almonds are sucking California dry. Each innocent-looking nut, we learn, robs the land of an entire gallon of water. All told, California's almonds consume three times more water than the entire city of Los Angeles. And their thirst is growing, year by year. California's farmers continue to convert new swaths of land to almond orchards.


Case closed? Maybe not, Grist retorts. Almonds get a lot of attention because production of them has been booming. And it's true that they do consume more water, per acre, than many other crops (though not all). Vineyards use much less water than almonds, and most vegetables also require less irrigation.


But that's only if you calculate water use in gallons per acre or gallons per pound of product. There's a different, and probably better, way to calculate water efficiency. How about water consumption per unit of value created? Gallons used per dollar of production, say. By that measure, almonds look just great, because they are so valuable.


So there's a very good argument that almonds are exactly what California's farmers should be growing with their precious water.


There is one problem with almonds, though. They're trees. They last for years, and they need water every single year, whether it's wet or dry. Farmers who've devoted their land to production of almonds (or walnuts and pistachios) can't easily adapt to water shortages. Letting the trees die would be a catastrophe, so they sometimes pay exorbitant prices or dig ever-deeper wells.


Water experts like Jay Lund, from the University of California, Davis, say that in the future, California should take care to maintain a healthy mix of trees and annual crops like vegetables. In drought years, farmers could then decide not to plant their tomato fields, freeing up water for their trees.


2. Cows


If you look at this presentation by Blaine Hanson, an irrigation expert also of UC-Davis, one thing jumps out. The agricultural product that truly dominates water use in California isn't almonds. It's alfalfa, plus "other forages," such as irrigated pasture and corn that's chopped into a cattle feed called silage. These forage crops consume more water per acre than almonds, and they also cover nearly twice as much land.


And where do those products go? Primarily, they feed California's enormous (though shrinking) herd of milk-producing cows.


Unlike almonds, forage crops don't bring particularly high prices. And they grow just fine in other places, too, such as the Midwest. So why should California sink its scarce water into such crops? It mainly results from the long tradition of dairy farming in the state.


But abandoning milk production would entail considerable economicdislocation. Also, these crops have remained viable because many farmers are guaranteed ample supplies of cheap water. Those in the Imperial Valley, a major alfalfa producer, get water from the Colorado River. Which leads us to ...


3. Laws and the politicians who make them.


Where to start? With the founding of the republic, maybe. When Europeans and other outsiders settled this continent, they operated under the basic rule of first-come, first-served. People who settled land got to claim it. And in much of the West, if they built a dam to irrigate their fields, they acquired a permanent legal right to that water. There were very few questions asked about how that water should be used, or what it should cost.


That basic idea remains in force, although the system for delivering water has been transformed by large, government-financed networks of aqueducts and canals. And hidden inside this legal framework are several characters that arouse strong suspicions.


4. Cheap water


For the most part, farmers don't have to outbid anyone for their water. They get it, or they don't, depending on the priority of their legal claim to it. Typically, they get that water for the cost of delivering it. This means that they don't have a pressing need to conserve that water, for instance, by switching into crops that make better, more economic, use of the water.


A limited market for water is now developing, which sets higher prices on water. It's driving farmers to treat their irrigation water more like the precious commodity that it really is.


5. Free water


This is the water that farmers pump from wells on their land. It's not exactly free, because it costs money to drill the well and pump the water, but farmers are legally free to use as much as they wish.


As a result, farmers have been racing to empty their aquifers, draining the water in them at an astounding rate. California has now adopted a plan which is supposed to eventually stop this, but it won't fully take effect for many years.


6. Fish


These are the villains of choice in parts of California's agricultural community. California's environmental authorities have stepped into the water allocation game, asserting that the state's endangered wildlife have rights to water that trump the claims even of the earliest settlers. As a result, in drought years, farms are getting less water — much less, in many cases, than state authorities originally promised to deliver. This is why some farmers complain, passionately, about a "man-made drought."


7. Exports


According to some reports, California's farmers are exporting vast amounts of water to places like China, adding to the state's water shortage. These are not literal water exports, but "virtual water" in products like alfalfa or almonds that took a lot of water to produce. Upon closer examination, though, this villain doesn't look quite so guilty. As Lund from UC Davis points out, alfalfa and almonds are the exceptions to the rule. If one counts all agricultural commodities, California imports far more virtual water than it exports. Its imports of corn, meat, lumber and cotton all required huge amounts of water.


Okay, time to pick one. Who's your drought-provoking villain of choice?



Friday, April 10, 2015

Sugar, Salt, Fat

Salt, Sugar, Fat


Michael Moss is the author



of the #1 New York Times bestseller SALT SUGAR FAT, winner of the 2014 James Beard Foundation Book Award for Writing & Literature, and a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter formerly with the New York Times. His writing focuses on the food industry in context of health, safety, nutrition, politics, marketing, corporate interests, and, finally, the power of individuals to gain control of what and how they eat. He has been a reporter at The Wall Street Journal and an adjunct professor at the Columbia School of Journalism. He continues to report on the processed food industry and is currently at work on HOOKED: Food and Free Will to be published by Random House.Salt, Sugar, FatHow the Food Giants Hooked UsBy Moss, MichaelBook - 2013


Michael Moss
@MichaelMossC


Official account of the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist & author of the #1 New York Times bestseller #SaltSugFat. RTs & link shares ≠ endorsements.

The origins of the word ‘˜marijuana’ in the US

 marijuana


Marijuana grower Joe Rey feeds plants a combination of nutrients and molasses in a flower room at 3-D, Denver’s Discreet Dispensary, Dec. 4, 2013.
Craig F. Walker / The Denver Post via Getty Images

  

Weed all about it: The origins of the word ‘˜marijuana’ in the US


by Alfonso Serrano @serfer6 December 14, 2013 2:59PM ET


How did the drug, once commonly known in the U.S. by its scientific name, cannabis, come to be called marijuana? Topics:


The term “marijuana” enjoys a secure place in the American lexicon. The recent drive to legalize the drug for medicinal purposes has certainly helped loft the word into the mainstream. Marijuana-legalization movements for recreational use in Colorado and Washington state have played a role, too, as has the nascent legalization and decriminalization campaign sweeping through Latin America, most notably in Uruguay.

But throughout the 19th century, Americans used the word “cannabis” when referring to the plant. Pharmaceutical companies like Bristol-Myers Squib and Eli Lilly used cannabis in medicines — widely sold in U.S. pharmacies — to treat insomnia, migraines and rheumatism. From 1840 to 1900, U.S. scientific journals published hundreds of articles touting the therapeutic benefits of cannabis.

So why does the term “marijuana” dominate the discourse in the United Sates, while most people in Europe and large swaths of Latin America refer to the drug as cannabis, the botanical name for the plant?

The answer, in part, is found in the Mexican Revolution, which began in 1910. After the upheaval of the war, scores of Mexican peasants migrated to U.S. border states, taking with them their popular form of intoxication, what they termed “mariguana.”

Upon arrival, they encountered anti-immigrant fears throughout the Southwest — prejudices that intensified after the Great Depression. Analysts say this bigotry played a key role in instituting the first marijuana laws — aimed at placing social controls on the immigrant population.

In an effort to marginalize the new migrant population, the first anti-cannabis laws were targeted at the term “marijuana,” says Amanda Reiman, a policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance. Scholars say it’s no coincidence that the first U.S. cities to outlaw pot were in border states. It is widely believed that El Paso, Texas, was the first U.S. city to ban cannabis, when it approved a measure in 1914 prohibiting the sale or possession of the drug.

Around the same time, West Indian and Mexican migrants started taking marijuana with them to ports along the Gulf of Mexico — most notably New Orleans, where the media began associating cannabis use with jazz musicians, blacks and prostitutes. Media outlets across the country helped fuel the hysteria, churning out headlines like “Loco weed now cultivated and smoked in cigarettes” and “Murder weed found up and down coast.” By the early 1930s, 29 states had banned marijuana.

But nobody played a larger role in cementing the word in the national consciousness than Harry Anslinger, director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from 1930 to 1962. An outspoken critic of the drug, he set out in the 1930s to place a federal ban on cannabis, embarking on a series of public appearances across the country.

Anslinger is often referred to as the great racist of the war on drugs, says John Collins, coordinator of the LSE IDEAS International Drug Policy Project in London.

Collins is not certain if Anslinger truly was a bigot. “But he knew that he had to play up people’s fears in order to get federal legislation passed,” Collins said. “So when talking to senators with large immigrant populations, it very much helped to portray drugs as something external, something that is invading the U.S. He would use the term ‘marijuana’ knowing that it sounds Hispanic, it sounds foreign.”

Anslinger reportedly kept files on jazz musicians titled “Marijuana and Musicians,” and monitored band mates who played alongside Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, and Duke Ellington, among others. And he began his federal campaign against the drug by publishing a report titled “Marijuana: Assassin of Youth” in 1937.

That year, Anslinger testified before Congress in favor of marijuana prohibition.

“Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind,” he said during testimony. “Most marijuana smokers are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage."

Anslinger’s crusade succeeded. In 1937 Congress approved the Marijuana Tax Act, which criminalized pot possession throughout the United States.

U.S. perceptions of marijuana is coming full circle, especially as states increasingly recognize the plant’s medicinal benefits. The U.S. public has played a role too, as polls show that a majority of Americans favor marijuana legalization.

And Americans have helped in that transformation — to make cannabis their own. “Marijuana,” after all, does sound foreign and strange, with its multiple syllables. Instead, many prefer the more colloquial, monosyllabic words “pot,” “weed,” “grass,” “herb,” “smoke” and “dope.”

The rest of the world has followed suit, in apparent defiance of the U.S.-imposed word “marijuana.” Mexicans, for example, have adopted the terms “mota,” “pasto” and “gallo.” In the rest of Latin America, names range from “chala” in Argentina to “tobareto” and “grifa” in Ecuador and “hierba” in Venezuela. In Spain, “Maria” is a popular term, while the French, in an apparent nod to the U.S., often use “Marie Jeanne.”

Marijuana

U.S.

DEA 



Source: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/12/14/weed-all-about-ittheoriginsofthewordamarijuanaaintheus.html

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Surprising Things That Can Damage Your Liver



Alcohol and acetaminophen are not the only culprits ...

Sugar

Too much sugar isn’t just bad for your teeth. It can harm your liver, too. The organ uses one type of sugar, called fructose, to create fat. Too much refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup cause a fatty buildup that can lead to liver disease. Some studies show that sugar can be as damaging to the liver as alcohol, even if you’re not overweight. One more reason to limit foods with added sugars, like soda, pastries, and candy.

MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)

MSG enhances the flavor of many packaged and prepared foods, from chips to diet drinks. (You might see it on a food label as “hydrolyzed vegetable protein,” “yeast extract,” or “soy extract.”) Still, some studies of animals suggest that the chemical may make the liver fatty and inflamed, which can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and liver cancer. Scientists need more research to know if MSG affects humans the same way.

Comfrey

Comfrey is a shrub found in Europe and Asia. Its leaves have a chemical that reduces swelling and keeps skin healthy, so you can find it in some pain-relieving creams. But comfrey also has substances that harm the liver. Don’t use a product that has it for more than 10 days at a time or for more than 6 weeks total in a year. Apply only very small amounts, and never put it on broken skin.

Herbal Supplements

Just because the label says “natural” doesn’t mean it’s safe. One serious danger is kava kava, an herb that can relieve menopause symptoms and help you relax. Studies show it can keep the liver from working, causing hepatitis and liver failure. Some countries have banned or restricted the herb, but it’s still available in the U.S. You should always talk to your doctor before you take any herbs to make sure they’re safe.

Obesity

If you’re carrying around extra weight, fat can also build up in your liver cells, which can lead to NAFLD. It can make the liver swell. Over time, hardened scar tissue can replace healthy tissue (a condition doctors call cirrhosis). People who are overweight or obese, middle-aged, or have diabetes are at highest risk of NAFLD. There’s no cure, but eating well and exercise can sometimes reverse the disease.

Too Much Vitamin A

You can find vitamin A in eggs and milk as well as fresh fruits and vegetables, especially those that are red, orange, and yellow. Many supplements also include it since it helps improve vision, strengthen bones, and give a boost to your immune system.  But in very high doses, vitamin A is toxic to the liver. To stay safe, never take more than 10,000 IU a day.

Unsterile Tattoos
When you get a tattoo or body piercing in a licensed, clean shop that sterilizes its equipment after each customer, the chances you’ll get a serious infection like hepatitis C are low. But if tools aren’t properly cleaned, your risk of hep C shoots up. The virus spreads through contact with the blood of an infected person and causes serious, sometimes lifelong liver illness. Check out the shop and its safety record before you get inked. 

Soft Drinks

Scientists studied the diets of a group of people with NAFLD, taking into account their weight, the amount of fat in their blood, and if they had diabetes. One thing stood out: 80% of them drank 2 or more soft drinks a day. It didn’t matter if it was calorie-free or regular soda, which means an ingredient besides sugar could play a role in the condition. There’s no hard evidence, but some researchers think artificial sweeteners might be to blame.

Antidepressants

It’s rare, but some antidepressants can harm your liver, even if you take them for only a few days. In some cases, the damage can be deadly. Older people or anyone taking a lot of other meds are at higher risk because their liver may be damaged already. If you’re taking antidepressants, talk with your doctor to make sure you’re on the smallest dose you need. Make sure you know the symptoms of liver illness to watch for.