Prof. Keith Scott-Mumby's Total Health Newsletter #62. Week ending Aug 22nd, 2010
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- Where Did We Come From? - 3
- How To Think Like An Oncologist
- Something New For Allergies?
- Are You A Bit Of A Cyberchondriac
- Nipple Rings?
- What's In A Word?
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This Week's Quote:
"Our bombs are smarter than the average high school student. At least they can find Kuwait."
-A. Whitney Brown
1. Where Did We Come From? - 3
Any guesses when human consciousness came about? A million years ago? Did it start with Lucy, the 4 million year old African humanoid?
Well, the thing is, Prof. Julian Jaynes thinks it was 3,000 years ago, give or take...
What's more, he has a lot of powerful arguments to persuade us. In his really punchy book "The Origins Of Consciousness In The Breakdown Of The Bicameral Mind" he tells us that there are no signs of consciousness in ancient literature.
The Iliad, one of the earliest books ever, reports no-one's feelings. It's just speech and action (remember our zombies from two issues ago). Achilles and Hector were not necessarily conscious. Nothing in the Iliad describes their inner thoughts and feelings.
In fact all their motivation, actions and words are attributed to the Gods--sources outside themselves. Now this is where is gets interesting. Jaynes thinks our right brain (what we call right brain today), was what the ancients called their gods. He even found historic images of men (kings, usually), who had a god right alongside speaking to them.
As Jaynes puts it, “volition came as a voice that was in the nature of a neurological command, in which the command and the action were not separated, in which to hear was to obey.” A bit like schizophrenia, really.
Jaynes came up with the term "bicameral mind", which means two-chambered mind. To the ancients their right brain talking to them must have seemed like gods. Only when humans finally woke into full consciousness, did the two halves of our minds fuse and we became fully self-aware.
It's a fascinating theory and changes a lot of things about how we see ourselves. But it does not conflict with anything I know. It's plausible and there is some evidence. Take a look at this carving from Yazilikaya (about 1250 BC).
You can see the king (the smaller figure) has the god on his right (right brain!); the god is wrapping around the king and directing his right hand. It kind of shouts at you when you know Jaynes' interpretation. He has lots more image like this, by the way.
What is weird (I didn't know this) is that in Mespotamia shortly afterwards, there are inscriptions bemoaning the fact that the gods had gone! This image of King Tukulti shows him facing an empty throne. The gods were not there any more. This is just about the time Jaynes says we woke up and became conscious (fully concsious)!
You've got to admit he has a fascinating and cogent theory!
Jaynes raises some incredible questions. For example, almost all important brain functions are represented bilaterally in the brain. This makes evolutionary sense because functional redundancy is a survival skill in the event of injury. But curiously, language is not bilaterally represented, despite its unique importance to humans.
2. How To Think Like An Oncologist
An interesting study showing that half the standard chemo and radiation therapy for early Hodgkin’s disease was just about as effective as the full toxic dose. In fact only about 1.6% difference in relapses. Why have the grueling and very toxic full treatment when less is good?
Help! How do we protect our incomes, the oncologists want to know?
No worries… Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, has stepped in and said the findings aren't quite that straightforward. Although researchers found only a 1.6% difference between the strongest versus the weakest treatment regimen, the statistical analysis leaves open the possibility that the difference could have been as large as 6.3%, according to Lichtenfield.
That means one in 16 patients may have not done well on the less intensive treatment, according to Lichtenfeld. "I personally would not make a recommendation to a patient that they should use the least intensive treatment regimen based on these findings," he said.
Well, the ACS is there to protect to cancer industry, of course, not to find cures for cancer, as is claimed in their charter!
The thing is, turn his stand the other way: would you undergo full grueling chemo AND radiation therapy combined, with all the heavy side effects, if there was only about a 1 in 15 chance it would do any better than half doses?
Of course those are Lichtenfield’s claimed figures. The researchers say it’s only a 1 in 62 chance! [100/1.6=62.5].
Hodgkin's lymphoma is highly treatable, especially when caught early. It's one of our few successes against cancer. The problem is that the chemo and radiation used to treat the disease can cause long-term complications.
Long-term radiation risks to the heart may include coronary artery disease (the hardening and fat deposits in the arteries that can lead to heart attack), pericarditis (irritation of the heart lining), leaky heart valves, arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), and/or congestive heart failure (poor pumping strength of the heart).
There is also a significant risk of the development of new cancers (such as breast or lung cancer).
[The study is published in the Aug. 12, 2010 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine]
3. Something New For Allergies?
Our old friend vitamin D again.
We know that vitamin D is great. It does far more than just protect us from rickets!
It turns out to be an immune super-booster too; its presence in adequate amounts reduces the risk of cancer and infections..
Not so surprising then, it had help reduce allergies. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers report finding that vitamin D not only substantially reduced the production of the protein driving an allergic response, but it also increased production of the proteins that promote tolerance.
Mold allergies - especially to common mould (Aspergillus fumigatus) can cause often severe complications for asthma sufferers—but not all.
The study was designed to find why only certain sub-set of patients with asthma suffered from the mold allergy. They discovered an association between vitamin D and a bandit protein (called OX40L), which was critical in driving the allergic response to the mold.
Patients with low levels of vitamin D had more of the trouble protein and less of the protective ones. When vitamin D was supplemented, that reversed.
So again the way is open to a good treatment of asthma, without using the usual dengerous asthma drugs (which probably kill as many people as the disease does). Just take lots of vitamin D. 4,000- 5,000 IU is fine. Plus it's one of the cheapest vitamins in town!
"Our study provides further evidence that vitamin D appears to be broadly associated with human health," said the chief researcher. A bit of an understatement, I think!
[Source: Journal of Clinical Investigation, published online ahead of print, doi:10.1172/JCI42388. “Immune tolerance to Aspergillus fumigatus versus Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis: roles of OX40L and vitamin D in humans and mice.” Authors: J.L. Kreindler, C. Steele, N. Nguyen, Y.R. Chan , et al.]
Interestingly, Dr Carl Reich MD in Canada was treating asthma kids with vitamin D; thousands of kids in fact. They pulled his license; but not for vitamin D use. For claiming that coral calcium was the cure for cancer (silly man!)
Are You A Cyberchondriac?
The latest way the medical profession has to insult sick people after failing them is to call them "cyberchondriacs". Very amusing (not). People who are not getting the healthcare they need will naturally turn to the Internet and start Googling what everybody else has found. Given the lousy state of orthodox medicine, it's not really surprising.
Apparently the number of these "cyberchondriacs" in the United States increased from 154 million last year to 175 million this year, according to a Harris Poll. This year, 32% of adults who are online said they search for health information "often," compared to 22% last year.
Among the other findings:
- The percentage of adults who go online (79%) hasn't changed significantly for several years, but the proportion who are online and have ever used the Internet to seek health information increased to 88% this year, the highest ever.
- Eighty-one percent of cyberchondriacs sought health information online in the past month, and 17% went online to look for health information 10 or more times in the last month. On average, cyberchondriacs do so about six times a month.
- There's a high level of satisfaction with the health information found online. Only 9% of cyberchondriacs said they were somewhat or very unsuccessful, and only 8% said they believe the information they found was unreliable.
- About half (51%) of cyberchondriacs said they have searched for information on the Internet based on discussions with their doctors, and 53% said they have discussed information they found online with their doctors.
My comment: about 99% of the information found online is unreliable and about 50% of it downright dangerous or just false.
SOURCE: Harris Interactive, news release, Aug. 4, 2010
5. Nipple Rings?
OK, this is partly just making fun of others and their misfortunes; I admit it!
Fortunately, most of us are of an age where we never went in for those body piercings: nipple rings, foreskin posts and all sorts of other unmentionables in polite society. I especially can’t stand the sight of weird metal things in the tongue, lips and over the eyes.
For one thing, I’ve never seen anyone with these metal objects that did not have a festering inflammation at the site of the piercing.
Secondly, I discovered 40 years ago, and have been telling people ever since, that metal piercings create allergies. Not just allergies to nickel, in the earrings etc. But this spreads to a generalized metal allergy and that in turn can create sensitivities to foods, chemicals and environmental triggers.
Smoking is bad too. So put both these things together and we have something to fume about, right?
It seems smoking and nipple rings are a major risk factor in developing breast abscesses. The first surprises me somewhat; the second does not.
According to a study at the University of Iowa, nipple piercing is a risk factor for breast abscesses, with the development of abscesses occurring up to seven years after the piercing.
Smoking also greatly increases the risk of breast abscesses. Compared with nonsmokers, smokers were six times more likely to develop breast abscesses, the investigators found. And the condition was 15 times more likely to recur in smokers than nonsmokers, the researchers noted.
Other major risk factors for the condition include obesity and diabetes, the researchers noted.
Breast abscesses are painful inflammatory lesions that are difficult to treat and tend to recur at rates as high as 40 to 50%.
Body jewelry they call it?
What upsets me is that these girls go out and have their teats mutilated, with never a thought for whether they will be able to perform their natural function later, when she gets pregnant. Scar tissue is inevitable around a piercing and the risk is it will block the milk ducts. However, fortunately, there is little evidence this is a problem.
Listen, I’m not against sexy body ornaments. But I prefer the kind you can take off and throw away, once the novelty has worn off! Otherwise it is just mutilation. I feel the same about tattoos, which are basically deliberate lifetime scars (you can’t get them off, once tattooed).
[SOURCE: Journal of the American College of Surgeons, news release, Aug. 3, 2010]
Rhianna wearing hers in NY
6. What's In A Word?
You probably know that gargoyles are grotesque mythical monster heads carved on buttresses and rooves of medieval buildings. They conduct water through a tube in their mouth, like drains. You may not have known that the water conduit is crucial to their naming!
Gargoyle comes from the same Latin word gurgulio, via the Old French argouiller, which also gives us gargle and gurgle (the sound of bubbling water). Gurgulio means throat.
But this is not the origin of the new verb to Google!
So, that's all for this week!
Be well; find the sacred in all you do, otherwise don't do it!
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