Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Former Head of the Chinese FDA Sentenced to Death

In a surprisingly harsh decision, the former head of China's food and drug agency was given a death sentence for the corruption of his department.

Zheng Xiaoyu was convicted on charges of taking bribes and dereliction of duty.

The severity of the sentence probably had something to do with China's embarassments over the pet food poisoning scandal as well as others involving toothpaste manufactured in China, but Xiaoyu's corruption apparently predated these events by years.

Xiaoyu was convicted with taking bribes from pharmaceutical companies amounting to more than 6.5 million yuan ($850,000 US). There is a long list of Chinese patients who died from drugs that were approved by his department and later found to be unsafe.

This is quite a story. It speaks to a lot of issues in China as well as issues we deal with in the U.S.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Massage Therapy Lowers Blood Pressure in Cancer Patients

In a study conducted at the University of Minnesota, patients undergoing chemotherapy were given massage therapy (MT) and Healing Touch (HT).

Both therapies were found to lower blood pressure, respiratory rate and heart rate. In the 230 patient trial, pain rates were also lower in a 4 week period with these therapies than without.

Another study, quotes in the April/May 2006 issue of Massage Magazine, conducted at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, found that sixteen healthy males had significantly lower blood pressure after the first two massage therapy sessions in the controlled trial.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Al Gore Should Host a Democratic Presidential Candidate Debate on the Environment

I was inspired reading the Time magazine article (read the whole thing here) on Al Gore where he was quoted as saying "If I do my job right, all the candidates will be talking about the climate crisis."

Hmm. I visualize Al Gore being the moderator at a Democratic Presidential Candidate debate that has one topic and one topic only: the environment.

Can you imagine? He would ask them great questions. They would be forced to bone up on the issues of climate crisis and come up with credible responses. If we're going to be faced with ten or twenty debates this year anyway, why not have one of them facilitated by Gore and focused on one extremely important issue?

The candidates of both parties are getting away too easily without having to face tough questions about the environment. Each candidate needs to be confronted by a knowledgeable questioner:

  • What would you do about carbon emissions?
  • Are you in favor of a carbon tax replacing the payroll tax (as Gore has proposed)?
  • Would you allow new coal plants to be built?
  • Do you think nuclear power is part of the solution?
  • How would you advance biofuels, particularly cellulosic ethanol from corn stalks, straw and switchgrass?
  • How can the United States become a world leader in reducing emissions?
  • Will you create and enforce CAFE standards for automobile miles/gallon?
  • How would you incent Americans to drive hybrid cars?
  • Would you invest in solar and wind power research?
  • Would you work on building a hydrogen infrastructure for fuel cell cars?

I really, really want to know what the candidates answers to these questions are. Do you? What do you think?

Maybe after that we could have a healthcare debate moderated by Dr. Andrew Weil.

How to Tell Genetically-Modified Foods by the Label

For years I thought (and was told) that there is no way to tell if a piece of produce in a grocery store was genetically modified or not. In the U.S., there is no regulation specifying that food retailers disclose whether food DNA has been tampered with.

Well, I was wrong. You can tell if a piece of produce is GM by looking at the "product look-up" (PLU) code on the little label.

According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, physician and activist, you can determine the following by looking at the label:

  • Conventionally grown food (not GM, not organic): 4 digit PLU
  • Organic food: 5 digits starting with a nine
  • GM food: 5 digits starting with an eight

Of course, buying certified organic food means that it is, by definition, not GM. And these days, it's safe to say that if it's not organic, it is probably GM. Dr. Mercola says that 7 out of 10 items in a conventional produce department are GM.

NOTE: Whole Foods Market prides themselves on carrying *ZERO* GM foods in their entire store. They say that no ingredient in any product has a GM source. In Columbus, Ohio, we're lucky to have a Whole Foods Market very close to where we live. Yes, you could doubt Whole Foods claim, but my previous posting on this blog explains what I think is the flaw in that logic.

If you're on the fence with GM foods, read this study or this one. Rats fed a diet of GM corn developed smaller kidneys and had blood abnormalities. The study was conducted by Monsanto, a GM food manufacturer, but when they saw the results they tried to hush the researchers. Unfortunately for Monsanto, fortunately for us, the information got out anyway.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

North Dakota to Legalize Hemp Cultivation

North Dakota has taken steps to make it legal to grow hemp. Hemp is a really useful plant that can be made into rope or clothing. Misguided lawmakers have outlawed it because they confuse it with marijuana, but the amount of hemp you would have to smoke to get high would be astronomical.

This is a great step. I hope it helps North Dakota's economy. The only trouble now is that they will have to fight off the feds, because hemp is still illegal at the federal level in the U.S.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Tomatoes Not Effective in Protecting the Prostate

Okay, are you tired of this crap? I sure am. Tomatoes, declared to be our savior against prostate cancer, are now declared to be...useless.

Sorry, but the latest study says that the lycopene in tomatoes doesn't help a bit against prostate cancer, in fact, it probably causes more problems than it solves.

Wait a minute. Wait just a cottonpickin' minute.

What do they say? When your method continues to give you contradictory results, question your method.

Our "gold standard" of medical studies, the controlled trial, is not helping us converge on solutions to our health problems. In fact, it is providing us with wildly divergent results, time after time.

I say there's something wrong with the controlled trial. It hastens to "factor out" all possibilities to zero on...whatever is being studied. Does it work? Obviously not. Sorry, but if your controlled trials are telling me one minute that tomatoes/lycopene provide the ultimate protection against prostate cancer and then the next minute saying that lycopene actually causes prostate cancer... C'mon! Do you expect me to trust your methods?

The controlled trial can't factor out everything because it's not possible to factor out everything. Yes, on the physical side, you can factor out a history of cancer, or diet, or other drugs being taken. But what about emotional? We know the emotions have an effect on the body and health! My grandfather died only a few months after my grandmother. Why? Because something happened to his diet? Or because he was lonely?

Until controlled trials factor in (or out) all factors, including emotional, mental and energetic (which I think is actually impossible anyway) we can't trust the controlled trials themselves.

That's my (post-flu) rant. Hope you liked it.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Why Isn't there a Car Insurance Crisis?

In this excellent article from Capitalist Magazine, writer Wayne Dunn walks us through the easy steps to creating a "car insurance crisis" just like the health insurance crisis we already have.


If you've read my book (now available as a free e-Book), you already know what I think.

(Thanks to Props Unlimited for the great gas station artwork.)