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Cheap, Safe Drug Kills Most Cancers! January 17, 2007

Posted by Dan in Health, News, Science.
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From New Scientist:

It sounds almost too good to be true: a cheap and simple drug that kills almost all cancers by switching off their “immortality”. The drug, dichloroacetate (DCA), has already been used for years to treat rare metabolic disorders and so is known to be relatively safe.

It also has no patent, meaning it could be manufactured for a fraction of the cost of newly developed drugs.

Evangelos Michelakis of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and his colleagues tested DCA on human cells cultured outside the body and found that it killed lung, breast and brain cancer cells, but not healthy cells. Tumours in rats deliberately infected with human cancer also shrank drastically when they were fed DCA-laced water for several weeks.

DCA attacks a unique feature of cancer cells: the fact that they make their energy throughout the main body of the cell, rather than in distinct organelles called mitochondria. This process, called glycolysis, is inefficient and uses up vast amounts of sugar.

Until now it had been assumed that cancer cells used glycolysis because their mitochondria were irreparably damaged. However, Michelakis’s experiments prove this is not the case, because DCA reawakened the mitochondria in cancer cells. The cells then withered and died (Cancer Cell, DOI: 10.1016/j.ccr.2006.10.020).

Michelakis suggests that the switch to glycolysis as an energy source occurs when cells in the middle of an abnormal but benign lump don’t get enough oxygen for their mitochondria to work properly. In order to survive, they switch off their mitochondria and start producing energy through glycolysis.

Crucially, though, mitochondria do another job in cells: they activate apoptosis, the process by which abnormal cells self-destruct. When cells switch mitochondria off, they become “immortal”, outliving other cells in the tumour and so becoming dominant. Once reawakened by DCA, mitochondria reactivate apoptosis and order the abnormal cells to die.

“The results are intriguing because they point to a critical role that mitochondria play:

they impart a unique trait to cancer cells that can be exploited for cancer therapy,” says Dario Altieri, director of the University of Massachusetts Cancer Center in Worcester.

The phenomenon might also explain how secondary cancers form. Glycolysis generates lactic acid, which can break down the collagen matrix holding cells together. This means abnormal cells can be released and float to other parts of the body, where they seed new tumours.

DCA can cause pain, numbness and gait disturbances in some patients, but this may be a price worth paying if it turns out to

be effective against all cancers. The next step is to run clinical trials of DCA in people with cancer. These may have to be funded by charities, universities and governments: harmaceutical companies are unlikely to pay because they can’t make money on unpatented medicines. The pay-off is that if DCA does work, it will be easy to manufacture and dirt cheap.

Paul Clarke, a cancer cell biologist at the University of Dundee in the UK, says the findings challenge the current assumption that mutations, not metabolism, spark off cancers. “The question is: which comes first?” he says.

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Gov. Schwarzenegger Seeks Universal Health Care January 9, 2007

Posted by Dan in Health, News, Politics.
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From the New York Times, by Jennifer Steinhauer….

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LOS ANGELES, Jan. 8 — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday proposed extending health care coverage to all of California’s 36 million residents as part of a sweeping package of changes to the state’s huge, troubled health care system.

A total of 6.5 million people, one-fifth of the state’s population, do not have health insurance, far more than in any other state. At least one million of the uninsured are illegal immigrants, state officials say.

Under Mr. Schwarzenegger’s plan, which requires the approval of the Legislature, California would become the fourth and by far the largest state to attempt near universal health coverage for its citizens. The other three states are Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont.

The governor outlined his proposal to an audience of health care experts and reporters via satellite from Los Angeles. He made it clear that a variety of mechanisms would be used to provide all Californians with insurance and that the responsibility of providing it would fall on the government, employers, health care providers and the uninsured themselves.

The plan, which Mr. Schwarzenegger estimated would cost $12 billion, calls for many employers that do not offer health insurance to contribute to a fund that would help pay for coverage of the working uninsured. It would also require doctors to pay 2 percent and hospitals 4 percent of their revenues to help cover higher reimbursements for those who treat patients enrolled in Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program.

“Everyone in California must have health insurance,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said.

As he made his proposal, the federal government announced that health care spending in 2005 showed the slowest growth in six years.

Mr. Schwarzenegger’s plan includes elements that quickly provoked opposition from many powerful interests, including doctors and the governor’s Republican colleagues in the Legislature.

But the speaker of the State Assembly, Fabian Núñez, a Democrat, said in a statement, “I’m glad the governor is on board with coverage for all kids.”

Over the last two years, state legislatures have grown increasingly concerned with how to provide health insurance to citizens as the number of employers offering coverage has fallen and the number of workers entering fields where health insurance is not an option has grown.

Because of its great size, California is likely to set the stage for a national conversation about health care this year.

“This is a very significant proposal,” said Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit foundation. “It is not just children he is talking about. It is really dealing with the whole problem of the uninsured, with concrete positions to raise revenues to pay for that coverage, and the philosophy of shared responsibility. I think this shows health care is going to be a major issue in the 2008 presidential election.”

In many ways, Mr. Schwarzenegger’s proposal mirrors the plan in Massachusetts, the most comprehensive of its sort, which is projected to cover about 515,000 of the state’s 550,000 uninsured. The law enacted there transformed a $1 billion pool that had long paid for health care for uninsured patients into a mechanism to help subsidize insurance for those who could not afford it.

In many states, spending on Medicaid, the federal government’s health program for the poor, has surpassed that for education in recent years. In New York, Gov. Eliot Spitzer has vowed to insure all the state’s children and enroll all eligible adults in Medicaid. And New Jersey is among a handful of states considering some form of universal coverage.

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The Origin of AIDS: VIDEO – Most Important Documentary You’ll Ever Watch January 8, 2007

Posted by Dan in Health, Must Read, Science, Video.
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We now know with an almost certainty where the AIDS virus came from, thanks to a theory that is only now beginning to emerge. You’ve probably never heard any of this before, and so a lot of it should seem questionable. However, I would like to stress that this video (posted below) is not one of conspiracy, and that is the only reason why I allow it on this site. I do not go for conspiracy theories. In my experience, the simplest explanation is usually correct (Occam’s Razor) and elaborate plots to deceive millions do not fit that criteria. As proposed in this video, AIDS results from an accident, due to an oversight, in a zealous charge to eliminate another deadly virus from the world; something infinitely more plausible.

In the 1950’s, a doctor by the name of Hilary Koprowski developed an experimental Polio vaccine within the Belgian Congo (what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo) in Africa. The requisite human medical trials involved the inoculation of approximately 1 million people with that test vaccine. It is proposed by this video that, because the vaccine was produced using the kidney’s of local Chimpanzees, one or more batches were accidentally contaminated with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), a variant of Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV), common amongst Chimps, and the precursor of AIDS. Its an hour and half, but if you have the spare time, I highly recommend this documentary as the most solid argument for the cause of the greatest epidemic of our times….

Eventually this study was denounced by the World Health Organization as “an example of the way in which not to conduct trials of this nature.”

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The (Non)Religious Person’s Guide to Evolution v Creationism, Choice v Destiny, Reprogramming Our DNA and The Ethics Behind It January 6, 2007

Posted by Dan in Health, Main, Must Read, News, Politics, Religion, Science, Technology.
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Recently, the BBC reported on increasing controversy over human/animal hybrids. As most embryonic science is outlawed in our wonderful country of Freedom, the only real science has to come from outside. What’s the worry with this particular study? Simply that the population’s failure or unwillingness to understand the science behind the work is going to increase negative public opinion, just as it is in the United States.

So… the ultra-controversial question is: should human genetic material be mixed with animal genetic material if it provides cures for disease? Furthermore, how far should science be allowed to go?

Here are the facts: DNA is nothing more than a series of chemicals that exact exactly like the programs on your computer. Very different pieces of complex coding designed so that each little bit works to perform a specific task. Think about the portion of you DNA that runs your brain as Microsoft Windows, while the portion that runs your heart is like the computer coding designed to run your Pentium processor. As people, we have “bugs” in our DNA, just like there are bugs within the code for Windows (ever seen the blue screen of death? That’s like computer epilepsy).

And just like Windows, people are working hard to fix all the bugs with the software that is our DNA. Unfortunately, also like Windows, you have to take the code apart and actually read it to find the problems. Its bloated beyond belief, full of junk programming/DNA that doesn’t ever do anything, and no two computers/people work exactly alike. (Makes sense?) While its relatively easy to just type new instructions into a computer, its much more difficult and controversial to do the same with human DNA. Why?

Well, DNA = Computer Code for Life…. its just that simple. Up until now, “natural selection” has taken care of the “bugs” within the genetic code of every species on the planet. It works like this: If you have a section of code (this is what’s called a Gene) that, for instance, makes it impossible for you to walk. Now, pretend its 5,000 years ago, and you’re living in a jungle. You wouldn’t be able to find food on your own, and you’d make a very easy target for some very harmful animals. Without help, you would’ve certainly died, and that Gene that kept you from walking dies with you. But, all it takes for a Gene to end is for the person with it to never reproduce. If you don’t have kids, all of the genetic material specific to you, good and bad, ends there. When this happens billions of times over millions of years, its called “Evolution;” the organism that you started with will always seem completely different from the one you end with.

So, God, Biology, and the World have been changing our DNA for us ever since life began on this planet. If you believe that this happened 6,000 years ago, as implied by the Bible, then within that time our average height has increased by more than a foot and a half. We know this is true because we can figure out how tall people were 6,000 years ago by looking at their bones. But we don’t even have to do that! Anyone who’s even taken a trip to the Middle East has already had this proven, repeatedly; you learn by bumping your head every-time you forget to duck down for an ancient doorway. People were smaller then. We have changed in the last several thousand years, and that means our DNA has changed as well.

Is playing around with our DNA the same as playing God? The answer here is: possibly. If you believe that God controls life, and we have no free will (everything is predetermined for us, and we’re simply following along), the changing our DNA is playing God, because thats His job. On the other hand, if you believe God set things up, made the world with everything in it, but then sat back to let us make our own future by giving us the freedom of choice, then changing our DNA is not playing God; its actually “playing evolution.” If, on the other hand, you do not believe in God, then you already understand that changing our DNA is only science, and you should probably just forward this post to one of your friend’s who doesn’t.

As you may have realized already, the belief in God and the belief in evolution are not mutually exclusive. This is what our founding father’s believed. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin… indeed most of the men who ratified our Constitution and Bill of Rights were Deists. If this term sounds new to you, thats because formal religious institutions aren’t in the habit of telling people that God is simply an omnipotent voyeur. Deists believe that God set up the governing principles of the universe, and everything that follows is a result. The principle amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing the separation of church and state was implemented from this belief! In other words, there is no one religious concept that fits our nation more perfectly. “In God We Trust” really means, “In The Universe We Trust.” We know that gravity will be there tomorrow, that the speed of light is set exactly at 299,792,458 meters per second, and that the fourth dimension will always be Time. We can rely on the reality around us to remain reality. That is the United States’ Constitutional view of God.

So for us, changing our DNA to fix the errors and “bugs” is nothing more than “playing Evolution” and is actively protected and promoted by the laws at the very core of our society. Should medicine, science, and technology be used to reduce human death and suffering? Absolutely! There is perhaps no more noble cause with which research proceeds.

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Remembering President Ford by Both George Bushs – Sr. & Jr. – Videos January 2, 2007

Posted by Dan in Health, Main, Must Read, News, Politics, Video.
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Dignitaries and others remembered President Ford in a memorial service today. It was also a national day of remembrance for the man, born July 14, 1913 in Omaha, Nebraska. What follows is a list of milestones from his life, and video from today’s service. Speaking are President George Bush Sr., Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and an oddly misplaced Tom Brokaw. The three offer fond memories of the only man ever to accede to the Presidency without having been elected to the position or to that of the Vice-Presidency first.

This is what the current President Bush had to say:

This is a timeline of important moments in Ford’s life. Its actually a little depressing that you can be President of the United States, yet in the end, your life boils down to just a handful of key events. This list, it should be noted, was compiled by CNN. Actually, most of this is from CNN.

1935 — Graduates from the University of Michigan, where he was a star lineman on the football team.

1941 — Earns a law degree from Yale University.

1946 — Leaves the U.S. Navy with the rank of lieutenant commander following four years of service in World War II, two of them aboard the aircraft carrier USS Monterey that saw combat in the Pacific.

1948 — Wins 5th District seat from Michigan. He will serve in Congress from January 1949 until December 1973.

1948 — Marries the former Elizabeth Anne (known as Betty) Bloomer, with whom he has four children.

1961 — Becomes chairman of the House Republican Conference.

1963 — Appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to the Warren Commission that will investigate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

1965
— Becomes House minority leader, a post he will hold until 1973.

December 1973 — Ford becomes vice president following the resignation of Spiro T. Agnew in the face of bribery charges dating to Agnew’s tenure as a public official in Maryland.

August 9, 1974 — Ford becomes president when Nixon resigns under the threat of impeachment in the Watergate scandal.

September 8, 1974 — Ford grants Nixon a “full, free and absolute pardon … for all offenses against the United States which he … has committed or may have committed or taken part in” while Nixon was president.

March 1975 — During the final days of the Vietnam War, Ford orders the airlift of about 237,000 Vietnamese refugees to the United States.

May 1975 — Sends U.S. Marines to rescue the U.S. cargo ship Mayaguez after its seizure by Cambodia — an action Ford characterizes as an “act of piracy.” The operation saves the ship’s 39-member crew, but 41 Americans are killed and 50 more wounded during the incident.

September 5, 1975 — Survives an assassination attempt in Sacramento, California, by Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, a member of a cult once led by convicted mass murderer Charles Manson. Fromme was disarmed by Secret Service agents before she could fire her handgun.

September 22, 1975 — Ford survives another assassination attempt, this time in San Francisco, California, by another female assailant. Sara Jane Moore fires a shot at the president, but a bystander diverts the shot.

August 1976 — At the Republican National Convention, Ford staves off a serious challenge from Ronald Reagan and is nominated as his party’s presidential candidate.

November 1976 — Ford is defeated in a close national election by Democratic nominee Jimmy Carter.

August 1999 — President Bill Clinton presents Ford with the nation’s highest civilian award, the Medal of Freedom.

October 1999 — Senate and House leaders present Ford and his wife, Betty, with the Congressional Gold Medal.

May 2001 — Ford is presented with the Profiles in Courage award for his controversial decision to pardon former President Nixon.

August 2000 — Ford suffers a mild stroke while attending the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

May 16, 2003 — Ford is taken to the hospital after suffering dizzy spells on the golf course. He is discharged the next day, with doctors saying fluctuations in blood pressure and hot weather are to blame.

June 11, 2004 — Ford attends funeral services for President Reagan at Washington’s National Cathedral, sitting with former Presidents Clinton, Bush and Carter, and their wives.

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President Bush Remarks on Gerald Ford’s Death – Video December 27, 2006

Posted by Dan in Health, Main, Must Read, News, Politics, Video.
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As a final farewell to President Ford, President Bush taped these remarks as part of a press conference. Ford died peacefully at 6:45 PM, Tuesday, December 26th at his home in RAncho Mirage, California. He was 93.

Ford replaced President Richard Nixon after his resignation. He will be fondly remembered.

Medicine of the Future – Live Forever with Science! – Nanotechnology – Video December 26, 2006

Posted by Dan in Health, Main, Must Read, News, Religion, Science, Technology, Video.
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Up until very recently, the general trend of medicine throughout history has been to take someone who is sick, and treat their symptoms until their body corrects the problem on its own. Vaccines are just weakened forms of the virus they prevent, allowing your body to “practice” fighting it off, and “learn” to do it before you’re exposed to the real disease. Even antibiotics just give the body a serious advantage over microbial infections; its your immune system that ultimately gets the job done.

So, how are you going to live forever? Well, not with this kind of medicine. Fortunately for us (the now living) an entirely new avenue of health care is opening up, thanks in part to advances in three primary fields: Computer Science, Biology, and Nanotechnology. We now know more about the genetic precursors for serious disease, where the body’s weak points are, and how to fix them. We have advanced technology to see inside ourselves and examine in great detail the natural functions of our cells, and where they break down.

Yet, the real miracle of medicine is still some 80 years away. Imagine a robot, smaller than a human blood cell, capable of traveling throughout your body, detecting problems and fixing them automatically. This is the “Holy Grail” of nanotechnology and would represent the ultimate convergence of those three fields. The machine would have to be self replicating (able to build more of itself), allowing a single injection to send millions into your body. They would scrape your blood vessels free of cholesterol buildup, clear aneurisms before they strike, eliminate cancerous cells while there are still only a few of them, and no danger to anything. They could even go as far as to identify genetic weak-points in our DNA, spotting susceptibility to things like heart disease, Parkinson’s, and anything else that shouldn’t be there, correcting errors as they go.

This somewhat trippy video portrays a possible future with nano-bots:


True nanotechnology would mean the total annihilation of disease in all its forms. Correcting problems with our body’s natural functions is still new, but we can already see the beginning of this road. Personally, I have a great deal of experience with Propecia, a pill that actually halts hair loss by modifying the body’s natural hormone concentrations. While this may seem like a small achievement, it is in fact monumental in its importance: Propecia is a medication that changes you, to fix a totally natural, expected, part of aging, simply because it is undesirable.

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James Brown Dies! Soul ‘Godfather’ was 73 – I Feel Good Classic Video December 25, 2006

Posted by Dan in Health, Main, Must Read, News, Snipets, Video.
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James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, passed away today at the age of 73. He had been hospitalized in Atlanta on Sunday with a case of pneumonia. By Monday morning, he was dead. His loss will truly be felt around the world.

Here is one of the performances that made him great, from the early days of his career. Watch it in memory of one of our greatest cultural icons.

From CNN:

ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) — James Brown, the dynamic, pompadoured “Godfather of Soul,” whose rasping vocals and revolutionary rhythms made him a founder of rap, funk and disco as well, died early Monday, his agent said. He was 73.

Brown was hospitalized with pneumonia at Emory Crawford Long Hospital on Sunday and died around 1:45 a.m. Monday, said his agent, Frank Copsidas of Intrigue Music. Longtime friend Charles Bobbit was by his side, he said.

Copsidas said Brown’s family was being notified of his death and that the cause was still uncertain. “We really don’t know at this point what he died of,” he said.

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95% of Americans had Premarital Sex December 20, 2006

Posted by Dan in Health, News, Politics.
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The statistics are in and according to a new study, 95% of Americans have had premaital sex at some point in their lives. What is perhaps most interesting is that the study found these statistics have held steady since the 1950’s, despite the fact that American’s today are waiting longer to marry, and are therefore sexually active as singles for greater spans of time.

This tends to fly in the face of governement funded programs promoting “abstinence only” programs as a means to combat STDs, and would seem to indicate that hundreds of millions of dollars have been wasted in well meaning, but ultimately futile efforts.

The honest truth is that government has no more of a mandate to regulate individual sexual behavior that it does to choose our religions for us. The Constitution, while not explictly stating as much, gerneally steers towards protection of individual liberties, and abstinence only on part of the government. Historical fact dictates that our founding fathers were filanders of the highest degree. The controversy surrounding Thomas Jefferson’s sexualy life persists to this day! While we can never be sure of their exact moral stipulations, we can be certain that our government was never supposed to govern our lives on such a private level.