On The Road To Designer Babies?

Finally!  The weekend and I can kick back and do something religious….like sleep.

Did anyone see the movie Gattaca?  I believe it was about choosing what your baby will look like…a designer baby…..I am sure there have been a dozen or more movies that touch on this type of DNA manipulation…….looks like life is about to mimic art…….

Advances in DNA research are fairly common these days, but a new study out of China seems to qualify for bombshell status: Scientists there edited the genes of human embryos for the first time, reports Nature. This gets into controversial and “ethically charged” territory, notes the MIT Technology Review, because if a mistake is made at the embryonic level, the mutation could get passed on to future generations. It also raises a whole new set of concerns about “designer babies.” To dampen the controversy, the researchers out of Sun Yat-sen University did not use embryos capable of developing into babies. As they explain in Protein & Cell, they used a new gene-editing technique called CRISPR/Cas9 on 86 embryos to try to modify a gene responsible for a blood disorder. Things did not go well.

“Only 28 had the defective sequence removed, and an even tinier fraction of those ended up with the ‘pasted-in’ healthy genetic sequence,” reports Quartz. Worse, mutations were introduced elsewhere. Researchers stopped the experiment, calling the technique “too immature.” Critics not only agree, they want a moratorium on all such work. “There needs to be careful consideration not only of the safety but also of the social and ethical implications of applying this technology to alter our germ lines,” a Harvard researcher tells NPR. At National Geographic, Carl Zimmer compares the controversy to the early days of human cloning and suspects “this week will go down as a pivotal moment in the history of medicine.” This particular experiment may have tanked, but it’s not a “deal-breaker” for the technology, he writes. But, as with cloning, society may now have to make some decisions about what’s appropriate. (Read more about why some scientists want to halt gene editing in humans.)

I kinda have a problem with this…….I understand the medical side of it but this is one of those things that will quickly become a money making enterprise…….does Khan come to mind here?

The Need To Know

It is the weekend and I have found a wealth of absolute BS to fill the next couple of days…..I have said in the past that there has got to be a way to get on the list for the grant money they pass out.  I have seen some amazingly stupid research that was probably paid for by the tax payer…..stuff we really needed to know……

And then there are these studies that I was so worried that I would die before an answer was discovered…..,…

The human chin is something of a mystery to scientists. How, exactly, did we end up with a seemingly useless structure at the bottom of our face? One theory, as Smithsonian reported in 2012, is that they offer some support as we chew. Small amounts of stress can break down bone, allowing it to grow back tougher, which many thought could explain why our chins are much less pronounced as children than as adults. But new research out of the University of Iowa rejects that idea. Researchers followed a group of almost 40 subjects as they grew from age three to adulthood. Turns out those whose jaws endured the most wear and tear actually had the smallest chins, io9 reports.

So if it’s not stress on the jaw, how do we explain our chins? The researchers suggest that it could actually be the result of our faces getting smaller as we evolved. Neanderthals didn’t have chins—but they did have bigger heads than we do. While our heads shrunk over time, as male testosterone levels decreased, the chin may have remained as a sort of facial leftover. Other researchers have also pointed to sex hormones in explaining our chins, Smithsonian notes: Women may be attracted to guys with larger chins because it signals good genes, whereas smaller chins may be linked to higher estrogen, perhaps making them an attractive feature in women. No definitive answers yet, but it’s something to chew on. (Meanwhile, an injection could be available soon to fix a different kind of chin.)

Did that help explain Jay Leno’s chin?

Now that mystery has been solved there is one that has plagued me for years…..why do my knuckles pop?

Scientists equipped with an MRI scanner, a finger-pulling device, and a man they call the “Wayne Gretzky of knuckle-cracking” say they have cracked the mystery of that popping sound your knuckles make when cracked. In a University of Alberta press release, the team says their video reveals that the sound is caused by the formation of a gas-filled bubble created by a drop in pressure when the joints are separated. “We call it the ‘pull my finger study’—and actually pulled on someone’s finger and filmed what happens in the MRI,” the lead researcher says. “When you do that, you can actually see very clearly what is happening inside the joint.” The study was published in the journal PLoS One.

The bubble comes from the fluid that lubricates the joints, the lead researcher says. “If you’ve ever washed up glass plates, you’ll know they can be hard to separate when they are wet,” he tells the Guardian. “The film of water between them creates a tension that needs to be overcome. It’s similar with joints. When you pull on them, they resist at first, and then suddenly give way.” He says he started the study after a local chiropractor—who served as their champion knuckle-cracker—approached him with the theory. The researcher, an expert in spinal structure, says the findings could help explain the cause of joint problems and help doctors stop them before they begin. (Other researchers have discovered a new body part in the knee.)

Whew!  Another mystery solved before I crap out…….

Now aren’t you glad you stopped by today?

Eat Your Veggies…….

For decades there has been a movement toward eating more veggies and less meat……more recently a vegan diet has become popular one where you eat only stuff that comes from seeds…..no eggs, no cheese no honey, etc etc etc……….

Of course as with anything there has been study after study to produce some “facts” that will support this idea…….and now we have a doozey…….

A federal panel that helps set federal dietary guidelines is recommending Americans eat less meat because it’s better for the environment, sparking outrage from industry groups representing the nation’s purveyors of beef, pork and poultry.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, a federally appointed panel of nutritionists created in 1983, decided for the first time this year to factor in environmental sustainability in its recommendations. They include a finding that a diet lower in animal-based foods is not only healthier, but has less of an environmental impact.

The 571-page report says the average U.S. diet has a larger environmental impact in terms of increased greenhouse gas emissions, land use, water use and energy use than the healthy dietary pattern it suggests — one that’s rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, seafood, legumes and nuts; moderate in low- and non-fat dairy products and alcohol; and lower in red and processed meat, sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, and refined grains.

In its review of scientific studies, the committee highlighted research concluding that a vegan diet had the most potential health benefits.

“The organically grown vegan diet also had the lowest estimated impact on resources and ecosystem quality, and the average Italian diet had the greatest projected impact,” according to the report. “Beef was the single food with the greatest projected impact on the environment; other foods estimated to have high impact included cheese, milk, and seafood.”

With this report the meat industry went batcrap crazy…….like that would be a surprise…….

A new federal report points to the environmental benefits of a vegan diet, and the meat industry is not exactly happy about it. Industry representatives say sustainability isn’t within the purview of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, whose recommendations factor into guidelines by the federal agriculture and health departments, the Hill reports. “The same concern would exist if an expert sustainability committee were making nutrition policy recommendations,” says a rep for the North American Meat Institute. “It is not appropriate for the person designing a better light bulb to be telling Americans how to make a better sandwich.”

Indeed, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack seemed to agree in an interview last month with the Wall Street Journal, the Hill notes. “I read the actual law,” he noted. “Our job ultimately is to formulate dietary and nutrition guidelines.” But earlier this year, the committee noted a need to address the “complete challenge” in order “to ensure a healthy food supply will be available for future generations,” the Journal reported. The chair of the committee also points out that the committee outlines three separate diets, with one vegetarian-focused, one Mediterranean, and one American. “If people took the time to understand, this is not a meat-free diet and this is not [a] vegan approach,” she tells the Hill. “They’d realize this is a healthy dietary pattern with three models that offers consumers a lot of choice.” The group is accepting public comment until next month.

I will be a good boy and eat my veggies…..but I really need my meat!

Any thoughts?

France Leads The Way

It is the weekend and I want to touch on a health issue……body image.  The media both print and broadcast have this tendency to glorify the “skinny” side of life.  Most commercials feature thin models hawking whatever consumer item du jour……TV hawks personalities that are young and thin……and let’s not talk about the fashion industry that turns “heroine chic” into a sell-able commodity…….we are a nation of people that thinks our self image is somehow tied to our physical appearance…….

France has taken a step to try and curb this dangerous obsession with weight……

France is cracking down on websites that encourage young women to starve themselves. An amendment to a health bill passed yesterday punishes operators of pro-anorexia websites with up to a year in jail and an $11,000 fine, the Telegraph reports. The amendment calls for penalties for those who provoke “people to excessive thinness by encouraging prolonged dietary restrictions that could expose them to a danger of death or directly impair their health.” Lawmakers say 40,000 people in France, almost all of them women, suffer from the eating disorder and warn that so-called “thinspirational” websites “can push people into a vicious circle of anorexia and authorities cannot do anything about it.”

Politicians say the new law, which follows a failed attempt to crack down on the hiring of excessively thin fashion models, “will not call into question the idea of freedom of expression on the Internet,” the New York Daily News reports, and will not apply to websites set up to help anorexia sufferers. Lizzie Crocker at the Daily Beast, however, notes that most people who visit “pro-ana” websites are already anorexic, and “even those who seek out these social networks with a self-destructive agenda often come away with support.” The law, she writes, “may end up hurting the very people it’s trying to protect” and “at the very least, it perpetuates panic about the dire straits of female body image.” (Tumblr has banned blogs that glorify anorexia and other forms of self-harm.)

A super model and I eat the same amount the only difference is I do not stick a finger down my throat after I eat………


My Friends Are Good For Me

It is no secret that I am a dog person….my 2 best friends are Little man and Baby Girl, the rescue dogs I found after Katrina……both were pretty dramatized by the storm and needed a home…..I was still hurting after having to put my friend Lodi down after she was badly injured in the storm…….not long we were family…….

Dogs are good for us humans…..psychologically as well as physically,,,,,and now there is a study that confirms it……..

How is a dog like a cup of yogurt? Well, canines might also have a “probiotic effect” on humans, researcher Kim Kelly explains in a post from the University of Arizona. Science suggests owning a dog can be healthy—for instance, kids in families with dogs generally have lower allergy and asthma rates, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. A new study aims to find out why. “Microbes in our gut can have profound effects on our health, both our mental health as well as our physical well-being,” Kelly tells Arizona Public Media. The question, she says: “Is there something in the transfer of these microbes between dogs and humans that is actually making us healthier?”

In order to investigate the matter, Kelly’s team plans to lend out canines for three-month periods to study participants, with help from southern Arizona’s Humane Society. Participants needn’t fear losing their new companions: They can adopt the dogs after the study, which will involve following both the dogs’ and the humans’ health through blood and skin samples, Arizona Public Media notes. Researchers will also keep tabs on participants’ mental health. In case you’re tempted, be advised that participants must be older than 50, since researchers are taking a particular look at our bacteria “as we age,” one says. (Click to read about more ways pets make you healthier.)

Make yourself healthier….go out and rescue a deserving friend that needs love and a good home….you cannot not be happier!

The Homeopathic Way Of Life

Last weekend I wrote about farmers markets may not be all that organic or any different from your local grocery……this weekend let’s look at Homeopathy.

Some of us feel that the earth will provide all we need as far as our health goes…….ande we believe that we can treat ourselves homeopathic way…………you know with white willow or sassafras or pine needles or ginko……on and on…..

But are we doing our bodies a favor or not?

I read a piece this past week that covers these questions and the practice…….

Homeopathy—the idea that one can heal oneself with illness-inducing substances in tiny quantities—is basically a bunch of quackery practiced by delusional people who take their own lives in their hands and might just as well take a sugar pill instead, according to Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council. “There are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective,” declares the fairly blunt report, which also recommends that health insurers stop subsidizing homeopathic remedies and that pharmacies not stock them. “People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness.” The report reviewed hundreds of studies on homeopathy, notes CBS News, and found no evidence that it’s more effective than a placebo.

“I have no problems with private colleges wanting to run courses on crystal-ball gazing, iridology, and homeopathy, and if people are crazy enough to pay for it, it’s their decision,” one doctor tells the Guardian, but he thinks governments shouldn’t approve them. The Australian Homeopathic Association, not to be deterred, urged the NHMRC to find an approach that “respects and advocates patient choice.” It’s not the only blow to homeopathy of late: A Canadian study on homeopathic treatment for kids with ADHD came under heavy fire earlier this month from the scientific community for, as the Toronto Star puts it, “legitimiz(ing) a pseudoscience.”

Any one care to respond?

Farmer Markets For Your Health

We all see the reports about the crap we put in our bodies as food….right?  And we know we must eat healthier if we are to live longer and healthy……right?  What is the answer for finding and consuming healthy food?

The answer most of us think about at first is that we need to spend more time and money at our local farmers market.

But how do we know that the food in these markets are safer to eat…..we know it is not cheap to do so…..but is it really better?

Some say hold the bus!  This may not be the best way to improve one’s health…….

Who doesn’t like a farmers market? Organic food, weird jams, and a sense of community have drawn shoppers nationwide for years. But a new study says the markets don’t really fulfill their reputation of promoting a healthy diet—and definitely don’t save people money, Pacific Standard reports. “There seems to be much enthusiasm for using farmers markets” to improve food quality in areas where healthy food is lacking, a team of researchers writes in the journal Appetite. “It is hard for us to share this enthusiasm.” Their study of 26 farmers markets and 44 stores in Bronx County, NY, found that the markets offered 26.4 fewer items of fresh produce on average, fewer commonly-purchased foods, and more expensive items overall, even among regular produce.

What’s more, 32.8% of items at farmers markets aren’t fresh produce: They’re processed or refined products like cookies, cakes, pies, and jams. The study admits that farmers markets do have upsides, however, like generally fresher produce and a slightly higher rate of organic foods. (But a two-year-old study says organic foods are no more nutritious or safe than conventional foods, except that germs in non-organic meats are more often resistant to antibiotics, the CBC reports.) Meanwhile, the growth rate of farmers markets is in decline over the past five years after markets outpaced farmers’ supply and the number of shoppers, the Los Angeles Times reports. “I think we’ve glutted the marketplace,” says a farmers market manager in Los Angeles. (Now see a few myths about washing produce.)

Well crap!  Thanx for that Professor.  What is the answer?  For me is that I grow most of my fresh vegetables and can some for the lean months……yep, it is hard work some times but far better on the body than store bought produce.  Nothing better than picking your salad stuff, wash it and then eat it………… Lettuces, tomatoes, radishes….I also grow pears, peaches, plums, figs and different citrus……I have a totally yummy yard!

Anybody else have an idea or ideas?