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July 02, 2011

Is the Fukushima meltdown killing babies in America?

Janette Sherman / Joseph Mangano: Is the Increase in Baby Deaths in the US a Result of Fukushima Fallout?
U.S. babies are dying at an increased rate. While the United States spends billions on medical care, as of 2006, the US ranked 28th in the world in infant mortality, more than twice that of the lowest ranked countries. (DHHS, CDC, National Center for Health Statistics. Health United States 2010, Table 20, p. 131, February 2011.) The recent CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report indicates that eight cities in the northwest U.S. (Boise ID, Seattle WA, Portland OR, plus the northern California cities of Santa Cruz, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, and Berkeley) reported the following data on deaths among those younger than one year of age: 4 weeks ending March 19, 2011 - 37 deaths (avg. 9.25 per week) 10 weeks ending May 28, 2011 - 125 deaths (avg.12.50 per week) This amounts to an increase of 35% (the total for the entire U.S. rose about 2.3%), and is statistically significant. Of further significance is that those dates include the four weeks before and the ten weeks after the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster. In 2001 the infant mortality was 6.834 per 1000 live births, increasing to 6.845 in 2007. All years from 2002 to 2007 were higher than the 2001 rate. Spewing from the Fukushima reactor are radioactive isotopes including those of iodine (I-131), strontium (Sr-90) and cesium (Cs-134 and Cs-137) all of which are taken up in food and water. Iodine is concentrated in the thyroid, Sr-90 in bones and teeth and Cs-134 and Cs-137 in soft tissues, including the heart. The unborn and babies are more vulnerable because the cells are rapidly dividing and the delivered dose is proportionally larger than that delivered to an adult. Data from Chernobyl, which exploded 25 years ago, clearly shows increased numbers of sick and weak newborns and increased numbers of deaths in the unborn and newborns, especially soon after the meltdown.

June 29, 2011

Science: Diet sodas make you fatter

Waistlines in people, glucose levels in mice hint at sweeteners' effects: Related studies point to the illusion of the artificial
Epidemiologists from the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio reported data showing that diet soft drink consumption is associated with increased waist circumference in humans, and a second study that found aspartame raised fasting glucose (blood sugar) in diabetes-prone mice. "Data from this and other prospective studies suggest that the promotion of diet sodas and artificial sweeteners as healthy alternatives may be ill-advised," said Helen P. Hazuda, Ph.D., professor and chief of the Division of Clinical Epidemiology in the School of Medicine. "They may be free of calories but not of consequences."

June 28, 2011

Is medical psychiatry a scam?

At the very least the methodology is incredibly suspect. Is medical psychiatry a scam? -- Why Evolution Is True
A while back I did some research on the genetics of mental illness, and was appalled to discover some disturbing things about medical psychiatry (by “medical psychiatry” I mean psychiatry centered on drug therapy rather than talk therapy). First of all, for the vast majority of drugs used to combat mental illness—and especially depression—the doctors had no idea how they worked, yet they pretended they did. Patients were regularly told, when prescribed antidepressants like SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors; Prozac is the classic specimen) that their depression was due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. SSRIs, for example, increase the amount of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the synapses (gaps) between neurons by preventing its reabsorption by the neurons. Because these drugs seemed to work (more on that below), doctors and pharmaceutical companies blithely concluded that depression resulted from a deficit of serotonin. But that’s ludicrous, for just because a drug alleviates a symptom doesn’t allow you to conclude that the symptom was due to the deficit of that drug. It’s like saying that headaches are caused by a deficit of aspirin! As Marcia Angell notes in her reviews below, “. . . instead of developing a drug to treat an abnormality, an abnormality was postulated to fit a drug.” An acquaintance of mine, visiting a psychiatrist for depression, was told that her “brain was wired up wrong”! That verges on medical malpractice. I also learned that the genetics of mental illness is a subject rife with uncertainty and unreproduceable results. For every study localizing a “gene” or gene region responsible for a condition like depression, there was a counter-study showing no effect at all. Nevertheless, medical students in psychiatry are taught that the major mental illnesses have a genetic basis (I’ve seen the textbooks). Despite all this, psychiatry continues to be increasingly “medicalized,” that is, talk therapy is replaced by drug therapy (doctors can make a lot more money prescribing drugs than talking, for during the hour occupied by a talk therapy session, a psychiatrist could see and prescribe meds to three or four patients). And pharmaceutical companies make millions of dollars prescribing drugs for mental illnesses, so they continually try to expand the range of conditions that count as drug-requiring “illnesses,” including obsessive-compulsive disorder, various attention-deficit syndromes, and so on. . . .