Thursday, May 24, 2007

The "Uninsurables"

With 46 million Americans living without health insurance, thousands of uninsured people who can't get insurance contact call centers every month.

Last year one nationwide survey, the Commonwealth Fund, found that 89 percent, or 52 million, of those looking for individual health insurance didn't get it because it was too expensive or they were turned down.

I'm working as a contractor for a large company. If anybody complains because the company is not providing health benefits to us, they can self-righteously replay that the recruiting company has benefits. However, that recruiting company doesn't hire me or several of my co-workers directly. They hire us thru another recruiting company that has no benefits. I guess that at least helps keep the unemployment rate down a little.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Grandma told us this

A new study shows the bulk of apples' anticancer properties lie in the peel.

Researchers analyzed the chemical composition of apple peels and identified a group of phytochemicals that proved potent against at least three different types of human cancer cells: breast, colon, and liver.

Countless studies have supported the old adage "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" by showing a diet rich in fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other chronic diseases.

But note that while drinking several cups of green tea a day may have health benefits, taking very large doses in pills can cause liver and bladder damage.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ethicist: Health Care System Is 'A Mess'

The U.S. health care system is "a dysfunctional mess" and politicians who insist otherwise look ignorant, according to a medical journal essay by a prominent ethicist at the National Institutes of Health.

"If a politician declares that the United States has the best health care system in the world today, he or she looks clueless rather than patriotic or authoritative," Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel wrote in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.

Emanuel, who supports sweeping health care reform, said the U.S. spends $6,000 per person per year on health care, an amount that is more than 16 percent of the nation's gross domestic product and more than any other country

He also said Americans' average life expectancy of 78 ranks 45th in the world, behind Bosnia and Jordan. And the U.S. infant death rate is 6.37 per 1,000 live births, higher than that of most developed nations.

Also, 90,000 people a year die in the U.S. because of lack of health insurance.

Link Between Mega Multivitamins And Cancer

Men who take too many multivitamins may be increasing their risk of dying from prostate cancer, according to new research from the National Cancer Institute.

Taking a multivitamin more than seven times a week was associated with a 30 percent increased risk of advanced prostate cancer and a doubling of the risk of death from the disease in the study.

Regular multivitamin use (one to six times a week) did not appear to increase cancer risk, and excessive vitamin use was not associated with an increased risk of early, or localized, prostate cancer.

An analysis of 47 studies assessing antioxidant supplementation, published earlier this year, found a slight increase in deaths among people who took beta-carotene, vitamin E, or vitamin A supplements.

In an editorial accompanying the study, Gluud and colleague Goran Bjelakovic, both of Copenhagen University Hospital, offer an intriguing hypothesis on the role of free radicals and antioxidant supplements in the promotion and prevention of disease.

The thinking has been that antioxidant vitamins protect against diseases like cancer and heart disease by reducing the free radicals that are thought to promote these conditions through oxidative stress.

But Gluud and Bjelakovic suggest that free radicals may do some good by targeting and killing harmful cells, such as those that cause cancers to grow.

As usual, a balanced approach is best.

good news for fitness
A new study shows that it may take as little as 72 minutes of moderate exercise per week to improve aerobic fitness.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

how to lied with statistics about globalization

In a Newsweek article, Robert Samuelson says that globalization has not hurt the U.S. much because some studies found that only a small percent of mass layoffs could be attributed to offshoring.
In 2004 and 2005, the BLS counted almost 1 million workers fired in layoffs of 50 or more. That isn't a huge number in a labor force of about 150 million. Moreover, most causes were domestic. The largest reason (accounting for about 25 percent) was "contract completion"—a public works job done, a movie finished. Other big categories included "downsizing" (16 percent) and the combination of bankruptcy and "financial difficulty" (10 percent). Only about 12 percent of layoffs stemmed from "movement of work"—a category that would include offshoring. But two-thirds of those moves were domestic.

What about the "downsizing" category? Ignored was Why the company was downsizing. Maybe because some of the jobs were outsourced to other countries?

He also totally ignores the number of jobs lost to citizens because of the importation of workers through H1-B and L-1 visas.

And of course, he points to low official unemployment statistics :
Still, with the unemployment rate at 4.5 percent, it's clear that globalization hasn't crippled the U.S. job machine.

Of course, this doesn't take into effect cases like a person who has been a computer programmer for 25 or 30 years is working at a low-skilled job, or borrowed money to get a graduate degree, because they can't get a job in their field. Getting a degree in middle-age, certainly in late middle-age, is likely to result only in a higher debt load. Also, the baby boomers who can afford to, and want to, are starting to retire.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Thin people may be fat inside;_ylt=AjMholDbXZugzbIv7aR6Nh3VJRIF

If it really is what's on the inside that counts, then a lot of thin people might be in trouble. Some doctors now think that the internal fat surrounding vital organs like the heart, liver or pancreas — invisible to the naked eye — could be as dangerous as the more obvious external fat that bulges underneath the skin.

According to the data, people who maintain their weight through diet rather than exercise are likely to have major deposits of internal fat, even if they are otherwise slim.

Of the women scanned by Bell and his colleagues, as many as 45 percent of those with normal BMI scores (20 to 25) actually had excessive levels of internal fat. Among men, the percentage was nearly 60 percent.

Experts have long known that fat, active people can be healthier than their skinny, inactive counterparts. "Normal-weight persons who are sedentary and unfit are at much higher risk for mortality than obese persons who are active and fit," said Dr. Steven Blair, an obesity expert at the University of South Carolina.


the "benefits" of lack of government regulations;_ylt=AvOkNx2q7YJ4MJ.yYp0w0zbVJRIF

Across Asia governments appear to be struggling to control the use of toxic chemicals in manufactured and fresh food, chemicals that experts believe are responsible for deteriorating public health.

Formaldehyde seems to be one of the most widely found chemicals, used for everything from keeping flies off fresh meat in wet markets to prolonging freshness and enhancing the colour of manufactured foodstuffs.

Experts across the region are beginning to blame a range of illnesses, including rising cancer rates, liver and kidney ailments, stunted mental and physical development in children -- and, in extreme cases, death -- on adulterated food.

"We have been eating these foods for decades. I think these foods are the reason why we have increasing numbers of liver and kidney ailments," said Rokon-ud-Dowla. "These manufacturers are killing thousands of people, yet we didn't notice."

We don't want excessive government regulation, but neither can we do without some. As in most things, what we need is balance. To depend on business to regulate itself is as rational as to do away with the police and depend on people to voluntarily obey the law.

Going green could beat the blues: British experts;_ylt=AhNq.x4dVo_zpLNKS8HBfHDVJRIF

A walk in the country is an effective alternative to chemical anti-depression treatment, a leading mental health charity said Monday, calling on British doctors to prescribe outdoor activities.

Researchers from the University of Essex, eastern England, studied the effect of a 30-minute walk in a country park compared with one in an indoor shopping centre on a small sample of 20 people with mental health problems.

It found that 71 percent reported decreased levels of depression and anxiety after the outdoor walk while 90 percent said their self-esteem increased.

This compared with 22 percent who said their stress levels increased, 50 percent who felt more tense and 44 percent whose self-esteem plummeted while indoors.

A second study of 108 people with mental health problems suggested nearly all (94 percent) found "green exercise" boosted their state of mind.


Chemical Compounds Boost Breast Cancer Risk;_ylt=AgoJZOOBo3iEGtATc25It..WSbYF

A detailed analysis of hundreds of completed breast cancer studies has linked disease development with environmental exposure to more than 200 chemical compounds.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Massive Carbon Dioxide Burps Came From Ocean At End Of Last Ice Age

A University of Colorado at Boulder-led research team tracing the origin of a large carbon dioxide increase in Earth's atmosphere at the end of the last ice age has detected two ancient "burps" that originated from the deepest parts of the oceans.

The new study indicated carbon that had built up in the oceans over millennia was released in two big pulses, one about 18,000 years ago and one 13,000 years ago

"This is some of the clearest evidence yet that the enormous carbon release into the atmosphere during the last deglaciation was triggered by abrupt changes in deep ocean circulation,"

There are proposals to "solve" the problem of increasing amounts of greenhouse gases by storing them in the ocean or underground. Of course, they will eventually come out, perhaps in large quantities at one time. Eg., the earth gets hit more than rarely by asteroids of various sizes. I would think that an asteroid which was not big enough to harm the earth as a whole, might be enough to free a large quantity of stored gases, causing catastrophe.

This sudy indicates another mechanism that has already caused the sudden release of gas that was stored in the oceans by natural processes.

Study: 1 In 4 Kids Go Without Health Care

The group's report finds despite billions of dollars in government spending, more than one in four children still don't have full-time health care — a gap twice as big as anyone thought


The United Nations said Tuesday that biofuels like ethanol can greatly help reduce global warming and create jobs for the rural poor, but warned that the benefits may be offset by serious environmental problems and higher food prices for the hungry.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Maggots Rid Patients Of Antibiotic-resistant Infection, MRSA

University of Manchester researchers are ridding diabetic patients of the superbug MRSA - by treating their foot ulcers with maggots. Professor Andrew Boulton and his team used green bottle fly larvae to treat 13 diabetic patients whose foot ulcers were contaminated with MRSA and found all but one were cured within a mean period of three weeks, much quicker than the 28-week duration for the conventional treatment.