Sunday, March 31, 2013

How to Save the World

Provide dental care and make children rinse their mouths at school.

Lack of dental services a factor in grades, attendance in CA schools
Hundreds of thousands of low-income children suffering from dental disease, some with teeth rotted to the gum line, are presenting California school districts with a widespread public health problem.
Increasingly, dental health advocates are looking to schools to help solve the crisis. Several school districts, including Oakland Unified, are running innovative programs to provide dental care at no cost to students.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Epidemiology 101

New Study Demands Zero-Tolerance for Military Sexual Assault
The study focuses on what these traumas mean for female veteran’s health: as noted, it concludes that women who have suffered a sexual assault in the military are nine times more likely to develop PTSD than female veterans with no history of sexual abuse. Female victims are also at much greater risk for a wide variety of other problems upon return: anxiety, depression, substance abuse and family troubles.
These results explicitly control for other factors that lead to PTSD. Contrary to many conservative talking points when Obama lifted the restriction on women in combat, the research cited in this study found that women handle combat-related stress just as well as men—military sexual trauma is a singular factor bumping up the prevalence of PTSD among women.
Really don't think he adds much to the analysis other than righteousness, but I am reminded of this:

Is PTSD Contagious?

The Root of the Problem

Can the Supreme Court hike drug prices?
How the industry uses the high court to allow bribery, evade the FDA, and boost medicine prices 5 times their cost.
The Supreme Court oral arguments on marriage equality deserved all the attention they received — but it’s another case heard this week that will affect even more people over the course of their lifetimes. And it could cost Americans millions in prescription drug bills.
The case falls within a sadly predictable continuum for the Roberts Court, which virtually always sides with the corporate litigant over the government or individual. This time, the arguments in FTC v. Actavis revolve around an insidious tactic common to the nation’s largest drug companies, and known as “pay for delay.” As a result of the likely ruling in this case, drug companies will be able to charge consumers as much as five times the potential cost of their products. And both government regulators and consumers will watch helplessly as pharmaceutical companies bribe generic drug makers to retain their exclusive holds on the lifesaving medicines we all inevitably require.
If they spent as much time and money and cleverness on finding actual causes and cures...
Aah, never mind.

Related posts.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Case Study

Narcolepsy-cataplexy: is streptococcal infection a trigger?
A case of post-streptococcal Narcolepsy initially misdiagnosed as Sydenham's Chorea.
I'm shocked, I tell you.

The Perfect Job

I know I have a couple people reading over there:

Hotel seeks “professional sleeper”
A Helsinki hotel is currently looking for a “professional sleeper” to bunk down for 35 days and test their rooms for comfort and general snooze-ability.

An Infectious Idea

There are zombies among us
 Forget free will – many of us could be taking orders from the parasites inside our brains.

Another article on Toxoplasmosis and other microbes I've discussed before.
But he gets a mention for the title.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

It's got what plants crave

How the Monsanto Protection Act snuck into law
A provison that protects the biotech giant from litigation passed Congress without many members knowing about it.

Got Milk?

Why Suckable Fruit Sucks
Lots of reasons why you shouldn't give your kids fruit concentrate.  Or roll-ups or juice, for that matter.

And while we're on the theme-  it also alters the microbe balance in the mouth and gastrointestinal tract.

As I was saying

We are no longer fond of mouse studies here at this blog, but this one doesn't make specific dietary recommendations for humans.

Changing Microbes in Guts of Mice Resulted in Rapid Weight Loss
New research has found that the gut microbes of mice undergo drastic changes following gastric bypass surgery. Transfer of these microbes into sterile mice resulted in rapid weight loss. The study is described in a March 27 paper in Science Translational Medicine.
"Simply by colonizing mice with the altered microbial community, the mice were able to maintain a lower body fat, and lose weight -- about 20% as much as they would if they underwent surgery," said Peter Turnbaugh, one of two senior authors of the paper.
"Our study suggests that the specific effects of gastric bypass on the microbiota contribute to its ability to cause weight loss and that finding ways to manipulate microbial populations to mimic those effects could become a valuable new tool to address obesity," said Lee Kaplan, the other senior author of the paper.
Ummm, you've been altering our microbial populations all along.   With low fat/ high carbohydrate food.   Which makes the problem worse...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Put your money where your mouth is

Breath Test Might Predict Obesity Risk
It works by measuring bacteria balance in the gut, researchers say.
According to the findings, results from a standard breath test used to assess bacterial overgrowth in the gut can also tell doctors if you have a high percentage of body fat.
The microbiome, or the trillions of good and bad bugs that line your gut, can get out of balance. When bad bacteria overwhelm good bacteria, symptoms such as bloating, constipation and diarrhea may occur. The new study, appearing in the April issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, suggests that this scenario may also set someone up for obesity.
I'm not sure they have the microbes or mechanism right, but this is good news for fat people.   Maybe now they will stop cutting up our stomachs.  They've been doing variations on that for a century-  they used to cut out the colon or small intestine instead.   Apparently, it also didn't help.

Monday, March 25, 2013


If only I had known sleeping in public was modern art. 

Tilda Swinton slumbers in performance art piece at MoMA

Things that make me Crazy

Could Herpes Virus Affect Memory in Older Adults?
Chronic infection with cold sores may affect thinking, especially in sedentary folks, study suggests.

Previous post on this topic
This is how I am beginning to think it works-
APOE4 compromises cell immunity to HSV1, and susceptible individuals are infected.
Herpes infection impairs the beta-amyloid pathway, which controls insulin processing.
Affected individuals with comorbid Hyperinsulinemia experience insulin resistance compounded by beta-amyloid accumulation.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Maniac of the Day

Obituary-  Peter Scott
Peter Scott, who has died aged 82, was a highly accomplished cat burglar, and as Britain’s most prolific plunderer of the great and good took particular pains to select his victims from the ranks of aristocrats, film stars and even royalty.
Impulse control problems. Rigorous Righteousness. World Class Obsession.
Rest in Peace dear man, you got your wish.

Yo Psychs

Explain this.

Gun deaths shaped by race in America
The statistical difference is dramatic, according to a Washington Post analysis of data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A white person is five times as likely to commit suicide with a gun as to be shot with a gun; for each African American who uses a gun to commit suicide, five are killed by other people with guns.
Answer is in the comments.

Quickie Correlation

Criminal justice system's 'dark secret': Teenagers in solitary confinement commit suicide

Decreased vitamin D levels linked to panic and depression

Saturday, March 23, 2013

This is not your problem

UK woman diagnosed as allergic to exercise
Kasia Beaver, 33, suffers from a rare condition: She breaks out in hives, her eyes swell shut and her throat narrows whenever her heart beats too quickly. She has exercise-induced angioedema.
So go outside for a while.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Smoke Break

Narcolepsy and Nicotine

Although she mentions me, I'm recommending this post for scholarly reasons.  Go over and read Christina's awesome research.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Yo Dick Cheney

What Hubris Hath Wrought.    As if the hundreds of thousands of dead people weren't enough.

Ten Years Later, U.S. Has Left Iraq with Epidemic of Birth Defects, Cancers.
Some of the ghastliest photos I have ever seen.  And I am a medical librarian.

Our tax dollars at work.   Have mercy on us all.   

The Worst Book in the World

Somatic Symptom Disorder: New Disorder Could Classify Millions of People as Mentally Ill
The new category will extend the scope of mental disorder classification by eliminating the requirement that somatic symptoms must be "medically unexplained" he explains. In DSM-5, the focus shifts to "excessive" responses to distressing, chronic, somatic symptoms with associated "dysfunctional thoughts, feelings, or behaviours."
His concern is supported by the results of the DSM-5 field trial study. Somatic symptom disorder captured 15% of patients with cancer or heart disease and 26% with irritable bowel syndrome or fibromyalgia, and had a very high false-positive rate of 7% among health people in the general population.
He points out that, previous DSM criteria "have always included reminders to clinicians to rule out other explanations before concluding that any mental disorder is present. But his suggestions to the DSM-5 work group that similar reminders should be included this time were rejected.
In the revision- Anyone who has physical symptoms of illness and doesn't  have a medically explained reason is now qualified for psychoactive drug treatment.   Cha Ching!!!   It's the pot of gold at the end of the psychology rainbow.

That pretty much includes all undiagnosed narcoleptics.   Maybe when the sleep specialists figure out the psychs are stealing all their patients, somebody will become concerned.   That's a lot of money on the table.

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Rapid Rise in Antipsychotic Treatment of Medicaid-Insured Children
The study, the latest to confirm a rapid rise of antipsychotics prescribed among Medicaid-insured children, raises questions about America's health care system, says lead author Julie Zito, PhD, professor in the UM School of Pharmacy.
"Many were diagnosed with behavioral rather than psychotic conditions for which they have FDA-approved labeling," says Zito. "These are often children with serious socio-economic and family life problems. We need more information on the benefits and risks of using antipsychotics for behavioral conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, in community treated populations." Furthermore, use of antipsychotics in children with Medicaid coverage is five times that of children in the private sector -- a disparity in need of greater study.
Now that is terrifying.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Article Roundup

Another cuppa

Truckers Plus Coffee Equals Safer Roads
In a case-control study in Australia, long-haul truck drivers who reported using caffeinated drinks to stay awake were significantly less likely to have crashes, reported Lisa Sharwood, PhD, of the University of Sydney in Australia, and colleagues in BMJ.
Compared with drivers who did not take caffeinated products, drivers who said they consumed caffeinated substances for the purpose of staying awake had a 63% reduced likelihood of crashing after adjusting for age, distance driven, hours of sleep, night driving, and breaks taken, Sharwood's group found.

Their Vision of your Future

The compliance police are on their way...

CVS to workers: Tell us how much you weigh
CVS Caremark has put its employees on notice that they need to reveal their weight or pay a monthly $50 penalty.
“Avoid the $600 annual surcharge,” CVS warns its employees who use the company’s health insurance plan. They’ve been told they are required by May 1 to show up to a doctor for an annual WebMD Wellness Review and submit to tests for blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and body mass and body weight.
“Going forward, you'll be expected not just to know your numbers - but also to take action to manage them,” the CVS policy states.
Just pointing out the obvious- CVS makes it's profit by selling prescription drugs.  If everyone did this-

Update.  Which reminds me-  my insurance company now requires that we use Caremark (via mail since we don't have CVS) for our prescriptions.   Including insulin which must be shipped overnight in a cooler pack.    It's much cheaper and less wasteful for us to use a local pharmacy but then they would not get their cut of the drugs too.   Sometimes we do it anyway because it's actually cheaper than their damn copay plus shipping.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

More Blueberry Muffins Please

Report: 1 in 3 seniors dies with, not of, dementia
A staggering 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia, says a new report that highlights the impact the mind-destroying disease is having on the rapidly aging population.
It's a freakin nightmare.

Friday, March 15, 2013


Difference Between Theory And Practice

Various theories on the source of the quote.
In theory, this quote actually originated somewhere. In practice it is impossible for us to know.   JohnClonts 

Proof of Concept

Neural Cells from Monkey Skin Mature Into Several Types of Brain Cells in Monkeys
For the first time, scientists have transplanted neural cells derived from a monkey's skin into its brain and watched the cells develop into several types of mature brain cells, according to the authors of a new study in Cell Reports. After six months, the cells looked entirely normal, and were only detectable because they initially were tagged with a fluorescent protein.
This experiment uses dopamine cells, but is the same process Dr. Merkle is using to make Orexin cells.

Wicked Awesome Science.
I might eat some sugar and dream of my brain transplant.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Brain Eating Zombie Pageant

Dollars for Docs: The Top Earners
When Dollars for Docs first launched in 2010, ProPublica spoke with several of the dozens of doctors who had earned more than $200,000 from their speaking and consulting work for drug companies. Now, with records from more companies and more years of data, we’ve identified 22 doctors who’ve earned at least $500,000 since 2009 — including one, Jon Draud, who was paid more than $1 million.
... Half are psychiatrists, including three of the top four earners.
Scroll down to this guy:  Lawrence DuBuske
He looks like he might be allergic to something.

Zombie Child Abuse

Why Gwyneth Paltrow's no-carb diet for children makes perfect sense 
Gwyneth Paltrow has been castigated for saying she avoids feeding her children carbohydrates, but she's right: we don't need to eat starchy carbs at all, says Joanna Blythman.

Twirl Your Brain



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Guinea Pig Generation

F.D.A. Plans Looser Rules on Approving Alzheimer’s Drugs
Drugs in clinical trial would qualify for approval if people at very early stages of the disease subtly improved their performance on memory or reasoning tests, even before they developed any obvious impairments. Companies would not have to show that the drugs improved daily, real-world functioning.

“This is really a huge advance,” said Dr. Eric Siemers, senior medical director for the Alzheimer’s disease team at Eli Lilly & Company. “Kudos to the F.D.A.”
Thanks for the money for nothing!

Good grief- do those people not watch horror movies?
Something is going to go terribly wrong, and in ten years we are going to have a bunch of elderly face-eating zombies to deal with...  

Brain Eating Zombies of the Day

CT scans of mummies challenge heart disease assumptions
For its expanded study, the team studied 137 mummies including Egyptians, Peruvians, Aleutian Islanders and ancestors of the Pueblo people in the American Southwest. Diets ranged widely from group to group. The Peruvians, for example, grew corn, potatoes and beans while Aleutian Islanders ate sea urchins, seals, otters and whales.

With these findings, researchers now say that the underlying cause of heart disease may depend less on diet and lifestyle than previously thought.

"This disease is an inherent part of human aging," said Dr. Randall Thompson, Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, who led the study.
That's an unsubstantiated conclusion.  Only a third of mummies show evidence of atherosclerosis.   Shut up.
"Much of what we think we know is wrong," said Dr. L. Samuel Wann, study author and director of cardiology at the Wisconsin Heart Hospital in Milwaukee. 

No, much of what we know is right.   Much of what you BELIEVE is wrong.
Learn your lesson.  Stop believing your own bullshit.

Atherosclerosis is caused by microbes.
One of the microbes is Strep mutans, which lives on teeth.  
Ancient Egyptians and Peruvians had terrible teeth.   That's well documented.
Another one is Strep pneumoniae.
And the Alaskan mummies show evidence of lung infection.  

Liars and Criminals

Bad Pills and Missing Science: How the Medical System Fails Us
An interview with Ben Goldacre, the author of Bad Pharma.
“Trials with positive results are twice as likely to be published as trials with negative results,” Goldacre says. And the results of withheld drug study results can be fatal; for example, over 80,000 US users of the diabetes drug Rosiglitazone have died of heart failure, a fact that Goldacre links to repressed data that emerged in early trials. Meanwhile, aggressive television and print marketing, including manufacturer-sponsored training (par for the course for physicians around the globe), misleads health professionals about the merits and risks of treatment. Equally troubling is the provenance of drugs that haven’t been linked to fatalities: thanks to legislative loopholes, a drug simply has to be shown to be better than nothing in order to make it to market. Goldacre’s accounts of these and other realities make Bad Pharma a galvanizing, compulsively readable exploration of how the medical industry is failing us—and why we need good medicine now more than ever.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

On the Same Theme

Antipsychotic meds not that helpful for depression
The new analysis found these drugs offered only a small benefit in relieving symptoms of depression and little or no benefit in improving patients' quality of life or ability to function. The drugs did, however, have some unwelcome side effects such as restlessness, sleepiness, weight gain and some abnormal lab test results such as increased cholesterol levels, the researchers reported.
Spielmans suggested that some of the trials they looked at may have tried to boost the perception of the effectiveness of the drug and downplay its side effects. "Studies were sometimes designed in a biased manner that may have slanted the results," Spielmans said. "Data were sometimes reported in a way that likely made the drugs appear more effective than they actually were." In addition, he said, the researchers found that some side effects were tucked away on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's website and in clinical trial registries rather than being reported in the published medical journal reports of the studies.
Two for two.  Antidepressants aren't very helpful either.
But they "should" work, so you guys keep prescribing them anyway...

Same as it ever was

A Cardiac Conundrum
In his new book, Broken Hearts: The Tangled History of Cardiac Care , David S. Jones  narrates the history of two of American medicine’s highest-profile treatments for heart disease: coronary artery bypass grafts and angioplasty. Each intervention, promising lifesaving relief, was embraced with enthusiasm by cardiologists and cardiac surgeons—and both techniques often do provide rapid, dramatic reduction of the alarming pain associated with angina. Yet, as Jones painstakingly explains, it took years to show whether the procedures prolonged lives; in both cases, subsequent research deflated those early hopes. The interventions—major procedures, with potentially significant side effects—provided little or no improvement in survival rates over standard medical and lifestyle treatment except in the very sickest patients. From his detailed study, Jones draws broader conclusions about the culture and practice of modern medicine.
I like this bit-
“The gap between what patients and doctors expect from these procedures, and the benefit that they actually provide, shows the profound impact of a certain kind of mechanical logic in medicine,” he explains. “Even though doctors value randomized clinical trials and evidence-based medicine, they are powerfully influenced by ideas about how diseases and treatments work. If doctors think a treatment should work, they come to believe that it does work, even when the clinical evidence isn’t there.”
This seems to have been common throughout medical history.   I keep coming up with stories like this in my research on mental illness.    A whole lot of time and money has been wasted and patients are killed because Doctors Refuse To Consider The Possibility They Might Be Wrong Even In The Face of Objective Evidence.

And that goes double for Freud.   He was incapable of acknowledging error.  Clinically Delusional.

Collateral Damage

2 Afghan Sisters, Swept Up in a Suicide Wave 
The sisters’ deaths shattered their family and have struck a chilling chord for the residents of Mazar-i-Sharif, a city increasingly marked by the despair of its young women. For many, the deaths have come to symbolize a larger crisis: an intensifying wave of suicide attempts.Although the government says it does not collect data on these cases, the city’s main hospital says it has been overwhelmed, with three or four such patients coming in every day, up from about one or two a month a decade ago.
The number of attempts has grown with such speed that the head of investigations for the police, Col. Salahudin Sultan, says he can no longer follow up on them.
“We don’t have the time or resources to investigate these,” he explained. “We would hardly get anything else done.”
My guess-  low fat dieting has been imported to the urban areas.  Those girls are learning western nutrition in their schools now.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Friday, March 8, 2013

Quote of the Day

With all our boasted scientific advancement, our therapeutics is simply a pile of rubbish. While a few hobbies are literally ridden to death more rational plans of treatment based on the principles already worked out for us are but scantily utilized. The diet, the digestion, the chemical composition of food stuffs, the metabolism of water, the cause and treatment of constipation not by purgatives but by rational and natural methods, the physiology of sleep and the pathology of insomnia, all need to be especially studied in relation to their application to the insane.

 Charles Hill, President of the American Medico-Psychological Association.  1907

Foxes and Henhouses

Narcolepsy link to Glaxo vaccine poses challenge for FDA
That uncertainty poses a challenge for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is considering an AS03-containing vaccine for use in the event of an H5N1 bird flu epidemic. Like Pandemrix, which has not been approved in the United States, it is made by GSK and is almost identical in structure.
A 14-member panel of advisors to the FDA voted unanimously in November to recommend the vaccine to protect against bird flu. The panel considered early studies from Europe showing an increase in the number of narcolepsy cases but concluded that the potential benefit of the vaccine outweighed the risk.
Since then, however, new data, including the study results from Britain, suggest the scale and strength of the narcolepsy link could be greater than first thought. At least one committee member would like the FDA to reconvene the panel.
Yes that's nice, but guess who the "premier Narcolepsy expert" is working for...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Martian Napping

Storm's a-comin'! There's a solar storm heading for Mars. I'm going back to sleep to weather it out.

Yo Doctors

I hope you're ready for what's coming.
Because I am.
Too bad I can't eat popcorn.


Is this peptide a key to happiness?
What makes us happy? Family? Money? Love? How about a peptide? The neurochemical changes underlying human emotions and social behavior are largely unknown. Now though, for the first time in humans, scientists at UCLA have measured the release of a specific peptide, a neurotransmitter called orexin, that greatly increased when subjects were happy but decreased when they were sad.
Because Narcolepsy doesn't kill you, it makes you want to die.

Advanced Indexing

Unreported Side Effects of Drugs Are Found Using Internet Search Data
The researchers first identified individual searches for the terms paroxetine and pravastatin, as well as searches for both terms, in 2010. They then computed the likelihood that users in each group would also search for hyperglycemia as well as roughly 80 of its symptoms — words or phrases like “high blood sugar” or “blurry vision.”
They determined that people who searched for both drugs during the 12-month period were significantly more likely to search for terms related to hyperglycemia than were those who searched for just one of the drugs. (About 10 percent, compared with 5 percent and 4 percent for just one drug.)
Back in the day, I helped those geeks do subject determination on search terms.   Figure out what people were looking for.   They've improved the algorithm a bit.   Very cool.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wish I said that

George Orwell and the Zombies

Paul Krugman on writing, not economics.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Old Song of the Day

Apologies to the old-timers.   It's another rerun.  A really hot live version though.

The Road to Hell

The worst moment of my life

My father told me yesterday he would rather eat blueberry muffins than be able to drive a car.
He loves cars more than anything.  More than anyone.  He's been driving since he was ten or so.
If you took all my bad days and put them together it would hurt less than that.

It's a freakin nightmare.

Place your bets

Health Plan Must Pay Anorexic Woman's Care: US Court
A health insurance plan must pay for an anorexic woman's residential treatment under a court ruling that remains intact after the U.S. Supreme Court refused on Monday to consider the insurance plan's appeal.
The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held in a June 2012 ruling that a state law, the California Mental Health Parity Act, required Blue Shield to pay. The law states that coverage must be provided for treatment of severe mental illnesses.
I am trying to decide if this is positive or negative.
If they will now be motivated to actually find an effective treatment.
Or just raise their rates so they can continue putting those women in institutions, feeding them carbs,  giving them vitamin D deficiency, and asking them if they were abused.

You know

Some days I spend every minute just Not Screaming.
It's exhausting.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Boys and Girls

Orexin A and its receptor 1 are expressed in the human prostate.
Overall, our results definitely demonstrate the expression of OXA and OX1R in the human prostate, and suggest an active role for them in the metabolism of the gland.
Serum orexin-A level decreases in policystic ovarian syndrome.
The serum OXA levels were lower in the women with PCOS compared to the control group. The serum OXA levels were correlated negatively with systolic blood pressure, the Ferriman-Gallway score and LH and free testosterone levels.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Root of the Problem

I don't know how I missed this:

Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us

Third Party Profit.  Period.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Live for Now

Xyrem is more addictive than Alcohol.

I'm not surprised

Five major psychiatric disorders share common genetic link
In the largest study of its kind, scientists have revealed for the first time ever that five major psychiatric disorders actually share common genetic risk factors. The five fairly distinct conditions include attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, autism, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder and schizophrenia. Not only were these conditions connected, but many were related through variations in just two genes, which are responsible for encoding calcium channels in the brain.
Guess which microbe's virulence is dependent on calcium levels...

Things I wish I had known

Postmenopausal women who smoked are more likely to lose teeth due to periodontal disease
Regardless of having better oral health practices, such as brushing and flossing, and visiting the dentist more frequently, postmenopausal women in general tend to experience more tooth loss than men of the same age.
They say you should quit smoking.
I say they should recommend antibacterial rinse before it's too damn late.
And you should switch to e-cigarrettes.   They're better than smoking.