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Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Power of Positive Thinking: Truth or Myth?

You might call Maarten van der Weijden the anti-Lance Armstrong. Last week, the Dutch Olympic long-distance swimming champion and cancer survivor told the British newspaper The Telegraph that he didn't want to be compared to the American cycling star.

"Armstrong says that positive thinking and doing a lot of sports can save you. I don't agree," said van der Weijden. "I even think it's dangerous because it implies that if you are not a positive thinker all the time you lose ... The doctors saved me. I am just lucky."

Van der Weijden's comments cut to the heart of an ongoing debate in the medical community. Can patients really improve their chances of survival by staying upbeat and happy? Experts say the American public has largely accepted this as fact. But, scientifically speaking, questions remain regarding whether this works, how it would work, and what such a connection would mean for patients who don't get better.

Appeal and promise

There certainly is an appeal to believing that you have some level of control over a debilitating illness. "I think it's part of the American spirit," said James Coyne, director of the behavioral oncology program at the Abramson Cancer Center and professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "There's this idea that you can succeed and conquer anything, even illness, on the basis of your character."

And studies showing a possible connection between positive thinking and health are frequently in the news. For instance, work by researchers at Ben-Gurion University in Israel suggested that women who've faced several life challenges, such as a death in the family or divorce, are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than peers who've had more stable, happy lives. The results were detailed in the Aug. 21 issue of the journal BMC Cancer.

The same study also found that women with cancer were more likely to report that, prior to diagnosis, they had been anxious or depressed and that bad things had happened in their lives.

Ronit Peled, one of the Ben-Gurion University researchers, said this was evidence for a relationship between emotional well-being and the risk of contracting cancer. "The main message from my point of view is that young women who have severe life events at a young age should be considered a risk group for breast cancer and treated accordingly," she said. "But general feelings of happiness and optimism in one's life can play a protective role."

Coyne said the public often takes news like this to mean that positive thinking has been unequivocally proven to be good for your health.

But the truth is a little more complicated.

How do you feel?

In reality, there is no clear-cut answer yet on whether being upbeat can keep you healthy or cure anything, Peled and Coyne both said. Research on the subject is divided between studies like Peled's and studies like the one Coyne did, detailed in December 2007 in the journal Cancer, which found that emotional well-being wasn't an accurate predictor of whether or not patients with neck and head cancer survived.

Coyne is particularly skeptical of positive thinking's power over cancer. "The problem with cancer is that it's so complex. By the time you're diagnosed it may have been building for decades," he said.

For other diseases, though, the scientific outlook is sunnier. Coyne said there's evidence that mood can predict whether someone who has had one heart attack will have another. And he said there is a biological explanation for why this might be possible.

Little research has been done on the biological basis of positive thinking as a therapeutic treatment for illness, but Coyne said scientists know the brain and the immune system communicate. Given that scientists also know the immune system plays a role in inflammation of the arteries, which can play a role in heart attack, it's reasonable to think that heart attacks could be tied back to things going on in the brain.

Good, bad

However, when Coyne and other researchers tried to intercede and treat depression among heart attack patients, they found the patient's moods improved, but the rates of second heart attack didn't. Ironically, Coyne said, the most evidence for emotion affecting health actually favors negative emotions, not positive ones. For instance, he said, we know anger and depression are correlated with having a second heart attack, however, what's unproven is whether being positive can reduce the risk.

Another way emotion could affect health, even for complicated illnesses such as cancer, is by affecting the patient's willingness to stick to the treatment plan. "It could be an indirect effect," said Anne Harrington, chair of Harvard University's history of science program and author of "The Cure Within: A History of Mind-Body Medicine" (W.W. Norton, 2008). "If a person is positive, he or she is more likely to show up for all the treatments to have a better diet to exercise. And if you're deeply depressed you sleep badly and that's bad for your health."

But Harrington and Coyne echoed the concerns of Maarten van der Weijden, saying that findings about emotions and health shouldn't be used to pressure patients into feeling a certain way.

In fact, Harrington said, that could hurt the patient more than if they'd been left alone. "Misinterpretations of this research can make people afraid to have the feelings they have," she said. "I have a colleague who's studied this and it's very clear from his work that it's just as stressful to keep up a performance of positivity as it is to [keep up] a bad mood. It's very stressful to be inauthentically upbeat all the time."

Healthy Eating Begins at the Supermarket

Navigating the Aisles

The typical American consumer hits the grocery store at least twice a week. Why, then, does it feel like we never have anything to eat at home? Follow the advice below to make sure you not only have a well-stocked pantry for healthful eating, but are buying the right products at the right time in the right way.

You'll notice, by the way, that many of the tips below have you looking at a food product's nutrition label and ingredients list for information. If you haven't become expert at this, time to study up. Go straight to the source -- the U.S. Food and Drug Administration -- via the Internet at www.fda.gov, put "nutrition facts" into the search line, then click on "go" for a full menu of food-labeling information.

1. Rule number one: Buy fresh food! There is no simpler, no easier, no plainer measure of the healthiness of your food than whether it comes in boxes and cans or is fresh from the farm or the fields. If more than half your groceries are prepared foods, then you need to evolve your cooking and eating habits back to the healthy side by picking up more fresh vegetables, fruits, seafood, juices, and dairy.

2. Shop the perimeter of the store. That's where all the fresh foods are. The less you find yourself in the central aisles of the grocery store, the healthier your shopping trip will be. Make it a habit -- work the perimeter of the store for the bulk of your groceries, then dip into the aisles for staples that you know you need.

3. Think of the departments (dairy, produce, meat, and so on) as separate stores within the supermarket. You wouldn't shop at every store at a mall the same way, would you? You know better than to idly browse through a jewelry store, don't you? So apply the same approach to the grocery store. Target the sections that are safe to browse through -- the produce section, primarily -- and steer clear of the dangerous sections (the candy, ice cream, and potato chip aisles).

4. Shop with a list. Organize your shopping list based on the tip above -- that is, by the sections of the store. This will have you out of the supermarket at the speed of light. If you're a woman, consider getting your husband or son to do the food shopping, says Joan Salge Blake, R.D., clinical assistant professor of nutrition at Boston University's Sargent College. The latest survey from the Food Marketing Institute shows that compared to women, men are more likely to buy only what's on the grocery list. But shopping with a list has benefits beyond speed and spending. By lashing yourself to the discipline of a well-planned shopping list, you can resist the seductive call of aisle upon aisle of junk food, thereby saving your home, your family, and yourself from an overload of empty calories.

5. Food-shop with a full stomach. We're sure you've heard this one before, but it's worth repeating. Walking through the grocery store with your tummy growling can make you vulnerable to buying anything that isn't moving, says Blake. If you can't arrange to shop shortly after a meal, be sure to eat an apple and drink a large glass of water before heading into the store.

6. Buy a few days before ripe. There's no point in trying to buy fresh vegetables and fruits for your family if the bananas turn brown and the peaches mushy two days after you get them home. Buy fruit that's still a day or two behind ripeness. It will still be hard to the touch; bananas will be green. Feel carefully for bruises on apples, check expiration dates on bagged produce, and stay away from potatoes or onions that have started to sprout. If the produce on the shelves looks a bit beyond its peak, don't walk away; ask to speak to the produce manager. Chances are, there's a fresh shipment in the back just waiting to be put out on store shelves. For a real taste treat, if you're going to eat them within the next couple of days, pick up a bunch of vine-ripened tomatoes. There's just no comparison.

7. Buy in season. Sure, it's tempting to buy strawberries in December, and once in a while that's fine. But fresh fruit and vegetables are best when purchased in season, meaning they've come from relatively close to home. They often cost less, are tastier, and have less risk of pathogens such as E. coli.

8. Buy organic whenever possible. Sure, it costs a few dollars more. But a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that organically grown fruits and vegetables contain higher levels of cancer-fighting antioxidants than conventionally produced foods. However, if organic is too pricey for you, don't worry; organic or not, fruits and veggies are key to a healthy larder.

9. Buy frozen. Frozen fruits and vegetables are often flash frozen at the source, locking in nutrients in a way fresh or canned can't compete with. Stock your freezer with bags of frozen vegetables and fruits. You can toss the veggies into soups and stews, microwave them for a side dish with dinners, or thaw them at room temperature and dip them into low-fat salad dressing for snacks. Use the fruits for desserts, smoothies, and as ice cream and yogurt toppings.

10. Stock up on canned tomato products. Here's one major exception to the "fresher is better" rule. Studies find that tomato sauces and crushed and stewed tomatoes have higher amounts of the antioxidant lycopene than fresh, because they're concentrated. Canned tomatoes are a godsend when it comes to quick dinners in the kitchen. Warm up a can with some crushed garlic for a chunky pasta sauce; pour a can over chicken breasts and simmer in the crock pot; add to stews and sauces for flavor and extra nutrients.

11. Stock up on canned beans. Although they may have a bit more sodium than we like, that's easy enough to get rid of with a good rinse in the sink. Beans can be mixed with brown rice, added to soups and stews, pureed with onions and garlic into hummus for dipping, or served over pasta for a traditional pasta e fagioli. In fact, all the hype about pasta raising blood sugar really comes down to this: What are you putting on your pasta? The soluble fiber in beans lowers blood sugar and insulin, making the combination of pasta and beans a healthful -- as well as delicious -- dish.
12. Spend some time in the condiment aisle. With the following basic ingredients you have the underpinnings for wonderful sauces, low-fat marinades, and low-salt flavorings. These delightful flavorings enable you to stay away from the less-healthy condiment items, such as mayonnaise, butter, stick margarine, creamy salad dressings, and so on: flavored ketchups and barbecue sauces (look for sugar-free varieties), horseradish, mustards, flavored vinegars, extra-virgin olive oil, jarred bruschetta and pesto sauces (luscious spooned atop salmon and baked), capers, jarred olives, sun-dried tomatoes, jarred spaghetti sauce, anchovies, roasted red peppers, Worcestershire sauce, chili sauce, hot pepper sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, walnut oil, teriyaki sauce, jarred salsas, and various kinds of marmalades.

13. Try some of the new whole grain alternatives. Today you can find wonderful whole grain pastas and couscous, instant brown rice that cooks up in 10 minutes instead of the old 50, even whole grain crackers. Hodgson Mills makes a delicious whole wheat pasta with flaxseeds. It really tastes great, and you can scarcely do any better when it comes to nutrition. While you're at it, pick up a bag of whole wheat flour to replace the white stuff in your canister.

14. Choose prepared foods with short ingredient lists. We don't expect you to cut out prepared foods entirely. Just remember: The shorter the ingredient list, the healthier the food usually is. Of course, if the ingredients are sugar and butter, put the item back on the shelf.

15. Reject foods and drinks made with corn syrup. Corn syrup is a calorie-dense, nutritionally empty sweetener perhaps even worse than refined sugar. A shocking number of foods and drinks are thick with it, including such apparently healthy foods as fruit juices, premade spaghetti sauces, and even bread. Some experts argue that corn syrup is one of the main causes of America's obesity problem. If a food has corn syrup in its first four ingredients, then it lacks the wholesomeness and healthiness you want.

16. Look for fiber. You want at least 1 to 2 grams of fiber for every 100 calories you consume.

17. If partially hydrogenated oil, or trans fats are listed on the label, step away from the box and nobody will get hurt.

18. Pick up a jar of dried shiitake mushrooms. They may look weird, but toss them in some hot water for half an hour and you have a meaty, healthy addition to soups, stews, and sauces, not to mention a unique filling for tarts and omelets. Plus, they keep forever.

19. Whenever you find yourself reaching for a package of ground meat, switch over to the poultry section instead and pick up ground turkey, ground chicken, or soy crumbles. Works just as well as ground beef for meatballs, meat loaf, or chili. This little substitution can cut more than 30 percent of the calories and at least half of the fat and saturated fat in a three-ounce serving, says Blake. When it's smothered in a zesty tomato sauce or flavored with seasonings, you'll never be able to tell the difference. If you're feeling a little gun-shy about abandoning the beef, use half turkey and half lean beef, or half soy crumbles and half beef.

20. Choose strong cheeses. Instead of American, cheddar, or Swiss, pick up feta, fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano, or a soft goat cheese. These strongly flavored cheeses will satisfy your yen for cheese without damaging your waistline, says Blake.

21. Buy macadamia nut oil. It has more good-for-you monounsaturated fats than any other oil in the world and a higher smoke point than olive oil, so there's no trans fatty acid formation when you cook. It makes any dish you make heart-healthier, says Fred Pescatore, M.D., author of The Hamptons Diet.

22. Confirm that a wheat bread is whole wheat. Some of the folks selling bread are trying to pull the wool (or is it wheat chaff?) over your eyes. Sure, a wheat bread is made from wheat. But if the first ingredient is refined wheat flour, then it's made from the same wheat as white bread -- which means, stripped of fiber and nutrients, and in some cases, dyed brown for a fake healthy appearance. What you're really looking for are the words "whole wheat." That's the stuff with minimum refining and maximum beneficial nutrients.

23. Buy plain yogurt and flavor it at home. Pre-flavored yogurts have oodles of sugars that destroy any healthy benefits they once had. If you add a teaspoon of all-fruit jam at home, it'll still taste yummy, you'll consume far fewer useless calories, and you'll save lots of money.

24. Buy healthy add-ins for plain cereals. These include raisins, fresh berries, dried berries, almond slivers, pumpkin seeds, sesame sticks, and bananas. The best breakfast-cereal strategy is to buy unsweetened cereals and then add in your favorite flavors. That helps you bypass all the empty sugary calories -- and lets you enjoy the cereal more. For ease, keep a wide-mouth, well-sealed jar on your counter with shelf-stable ingredients for quick mix-ins. Keep a scoop and ziplock bags handy, and you've got a handy, nutritious meal or snack for home or on the go.

25. Read juice labels carefully. Orange juice, although quite healthy, often has 20 grams of sugar in the average 8-ounce glass. Instead, try guava juice. It has three times more vitamin C, and is loaded with potassium (a great blood pressure regulator) and beta-carotene.

The Top Ten Strange and Unusual Japanese Chewing Gums


Chews your poison...

These Ten Strange and Unusual Japanese Chewing Gums are really not bad as chewing gum goes - some are actually quite good!

Japanese chewing gum differs from American chewing gum in many ways, and that probably is a result of the practical way Japan looks at chewing gum. Since it's merely chewed for a while and then disposed of, it just makes sense for chewing gum to serve some function, ANY function before being spat out. This way of thinking can produce some VERY strange and unusual types of chewing gum, and from them we've assembled this Top Ten list! Now then, let's get down to the good, the bad and the sticky!

10) No Time Gum: Eat Your Toothbrush!


No time to brush your teeth? No problem - if you've got No Time Gum! This multifunctional minty mélange contains tiny granules that scrub your teeth clean as a whistle while you chew. Is this cool, or what? Gum that works as hard as you do while saving you time and, presumably, dentist visits. I can just hear Mom now... "Chew your gum before going to bed!" (chewing gum via J-List)


9) "Man Smell" Gum - Not Just for Athletic Supporters


Yes, the title threw me too, but that's what "Otoko Kaoru" translates to. Luckily there's much more to it than that - like the previously mentioned Fuwarinka Scented Gum, Man Smell gum contains those special Rose oils that escape through your skin after chewing. This one exudes a manly Menthol Rose aroma, not just your average sweaty-guy funkiness. Let's be thankful for that, at least. (chewing gum via Food for Thought)


8) Chewing Gum with After-Wrappers - A Neat Idea


Perhaps frightened by word of the infamous Singapore Chewing Gum Ban and Caning Bylaw, the manufacturers of Xylish (pronounced "Zee-Lish") gum decided to add a packet of after-wrappers to their plastic jug o' gum. When you're ready to ditch your chaw, just wrap & toss into the nearest trashcan. This is actually a wonderful idea that other gum manufacturers should follow, it would save the look of our streets by giving people a viable gum disposal option instead of just spitting it out. (chewing gum via Betterdays)


7) Digi-Gum: 4 out of 5 Nutty Professors Agree!


More Xylish gum, this time in "Funky Orange" flavor. The gum itself isn't odd, but the character on the pack is... it sure looks a lot like Jerry Lewis in full-out Nutty Professor mode. Why "Digi-Gum"? Who knows, but doesn't that sound hip & trendy? The gum's active ingredient, Xylitol, is very popular in Japanese gums - it's sweet but doesn't cause tooth decay. (chewing gum via My So-Called Japanese Life)

Check out this cool Japanese TV chewing gum commercial!

6) Sparkle Ninja Chewing Gum, for Flamboyant Ninjas


Strawberry flavored Sparkling Ninja Chewing Gum isn't Japanese, it's just acting that way. I mean, who ever heard of a ninja in a pink outfit? Not that there's anything wrong with that... but isn't being un-noticeable the whole point of being a ninja? Then again, walking down most any major Japanese city street clad in sparkling pink tights isn't going to draw much attention these days anyway. (chewing gum via Mcphee)


5) Black Black Gum - Bigger and Blacker than Before


Didn't they used to sell black gum on the back pages of comic books? Or was it black soap? In any case, Black Black Gum is not for the faint of heart. Just ask Jean-Claude van Damme... the "Muscles from Brussels" promoted the macho chew in a series of Japanese TV ads. According to the print on the package, Black Black Gum has a "Hi Technical Taste". It also has caffeine, niacin and a really powerful licorice-mint taste, making it ideal for those late night cram sessions before a high technical college exam. (chewing gum via 3-Yen)


4) Xylish Platinum Mint Chardonnay Flavor - Smell Drunk, Stay Sober


So you're driving along on a dark evening, not a care in the world, until those telltale flashing lights appear - you've been pulled over by The Law. What NOT to do? Pop a stick of Xylish Platinum Mint "Chardonnay" Flavor Gum in your mouth while waiting for Officer Smith to sidle up alongside. Imagine the fun you'll have, watching him puzzle over the Breathalyzer readings while you exhale wine-breath into the tester yet one more time! Wine-flavored gum... puts those English "Wine Gums" to shame! And, it's the perfect way to disguise a visit to a bar. (chewing gum via Giant Jeans Parlor)


3) Fuwarinka Scented Gum: Come Out Smelling Like a Rose


Now here's a radical idea that, curiously, hasn't caught on outside Japan: gum that makes your breath AND your body smell good! Futuristic Fuwarinka Scented Gum contains the aromatic compounds geraniol and linalool which, when swallowed, waft either Fresh Citrus or Fruity Rose aromas through your skin! Just imagine how much money you'll save on cologne, aftershave and deodorant? (chewing gum via Compact Impact)


2) Sex Gum for Men: Like Chewable Viagra?


Suplitol Tongkat Ali Gum for Men contains a variety of natural herbs and extracts proven (they say) to improve blood flow and muscular function - and they don't mean in your arms, regardless of what the ad photo displays. The gum also contains something called "plant testosterone"... hey, have you ever seen a limp tree? (chewing gum via Get Bust Up Gum)


1) Bust Up Gum: It Blows Up Your Bubbles!


Sorry ladies, if you thought that a Japanese "sex gum for women" was going to be the complement of the just mentioned Suplitol Tongkat Ali Gum for Men, you're going to be sadly disappointed - and probably more than a little annoyed. Bust Up Gum, the female sex gum from B2UP, just makes the fairer sex more sexy - in the eyes of the opposite sex!

None of that blood flow stuff, noooo... according to B2UP, the special ingredients, "extracts from the Pueraria mirifica (Kwao Krua) plant, makes a woman's breasts grow as well as improving their shape and tone." I didn't know breasts HAD a tone - unless it's High C (or B Flat). Still, it's amazing... boob-enhancing gum. They could call it Double Bubble if the name wasn't already taken.

Bust Up gum is just the latest Japanese food product containing Pueraria extracts - others include F-Cup Tea and F-Cup Cookies. Can't say they're not confident in their products! Y'know, Bust Up gum has the potential to replace Ex-Lax chocolate as the snack schoolyard pranksters offer their unsuspecting targets. Can you imagine the expression on some poor proto-geek's face after being told he just chewed Bust Up gum? Let's hope that scenario remains in the field of imagination! (chewing gum via Medical News Today)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Cocaine and Ecstasy deaths up 1,200% since records began in 1993

By Charlotte Gill


Woman sniffing cocaine

Threat: Cocaine is becoming the middle-class narcotic of choice

Death from 'middle class' drugs glamorised by celebrities are at their highest level since records began, government figures revealed today.

Party drugs Ecstasy and cocaine now claim nearly 300 lives a year, an increase of over 1,200 per cent since figures were first recorded in 1993.

The statistics, released by the Office for National Statistics, also reveal that far more men than women are dying from drug abuse and are taking them later in life, often into their 40s.

Experts believe that cocaine's 'dinner party' image is masking its true dangers.

The high number of cocaine deaths are thought to be the result of mixing the drug with alcohol which produces a potentially-deadly compound called cocaine-ethynyl.

There have been a number of high-profile deaths involving the drug in recent years.

Actress Natasha Collins, 31, died in a scalding hot bath in January after taking large amounts of cocaine, wine, vodka and sleeping tablets.

Flamboyant German aristocrat Count Gottfried von Bismarck died last July after injecting cocaine every hour during the day and night before his death.

Yesterday drug charities warned of an 'epidemic' of recreational drug deaths as young Britons emulate stars such as Kate Moss, Pete Doherty and Amy Winehouse.

Clare McNeil, of drug treatment charity Addaction, said: 'Cocaine is seen as a middle-class drug associated with success and money.

'People think they can copy celebrities and do a quick line because it doesn't have the same stigma as other class As but it's actually just as destructive.

'People are often ignorant of the risks of combining alcohol with cocaine for example, which can increase the risk of liver and heart disease, strokes and epilepsy.

'The increase in deaths among men in their 30s and 40s is worrying. It suggests that more people are continuing to experiment with drugs well into adulthood.

'At one time young people would dabble then stop as they settled down but these kind of figures suggest an epidemic."

Deaths from all drugs rose by 2.7 per cent last year - the highest figure since 2002.

The figures show the total number of deaths in England and Wales from drugs poisoning in 2007 was 2,640, up 2.7 per cent from the 2,570 in 2006.

The majority of those were male - 1,914 last year compared with 1,782 in 2006.

Meanwhile, female drug poisoning deaths fell by eight per cent from 788 deaths in 2006 to 726 in 2007.

Cocaine claimed 196 lives in 2007 and Ecstasy 97, a combined total of 293.

This is a staggering 1,274 per cent increase since 1993, when just 23 people died after taking the drugs.

The highest number of drug deaths were among men aged between 30 and 39.

Deaths among 20 to 29-year-olds, which was previously the highest group, continued to increase but at a slower rate.

David Gilbert, chief executive of drugs charity D.A.R.E., called on families to become more involved in the war on drugs.

He said: 'Parents need to play a much bigger role in setting children on the straight and narrow when they are young.

'Childhood is when views of drugs are formed and it is the best time to educate people to avoid them.

'We obviously have a massive problem and the different agencies and charities need to pull together to tackle it.'

Class A drugs heroin and morphine caused 829 deaths in 2007, compared with 713 in 2006.

Methadone deaths also shot to their highest levels since 1999 with 326 deaths - an increase of 35 per cent compared with 2006.

Party towns Blackpool and Brighton top the list of black spots for drug deaths hitting 233 a year.

Blackpool topped the list with 120 people in every 100,000 being killed every year between 2000 and 2006.

The seaside town was closely followed by Brighton and Hove with 112 deaths and Camden, in London, with 83.

Deaths involving antidepressants, paracetamol and aspirin were all at their lowest levels since records began in 1993.

Original here

Narrowing World Health Disparities

By LAURA BLUE

On average, a black man living in Washington, D.C., does not live as long as a man in India, and he certainly doesn't live as long as a white man in his hometown. The reasons — just like the reasons that the Japanese and Swedes live longer than the Ukrainians, and why aborigines in Australia on average die 17 years earlier than non-aborigines — are almost entirely social, according to a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) released today.

It may seem obvious, or even inevitable, that a poor person would live a shorter, sicker life than a rich one. But consider also that a "social gradient of health" exists even among the rich: the outlandishly wealthy live healthier and longer than the rich, who live better than the merely comfortable. In every country around the world, WHO's Commission on the Social Determinants of Health found that the very best off had better health than people a few rungs below them on the socioeconomic ladder. "Even in Sweden" — a country with a strong history of social and economic equality — "if you look over the last 10 years, life expectancy has improved across the board. But it's improved more for people with high education than it has for people with low education," says Michael Marmot, chair of the Commission and a U.K.-based epidemiologist.

Education, of course, is a major social determinant of health. More highly educated people tend to make more healthful lifestyle choices and, as they also tend to be richer, have greater access to health care. The Commission's "social determinants" cover a vast territory, encompassing virtually every factor that can be changed in a person's life by applying reasonable political and economic resources. (Early on, commissioners had considered adding the words Environmental Economic, Political, and Cultural to describe the determinants in their group's official title, but then figured that would make it too unwieldy. "It can get a bit silly," Marmot says. "So we just said, Social includes all that.") But the Commission's new report highlights social factors that go well beyond having enough money to buy a doctor's care or medication, and well beyond having the know-how to use it. The world's poor tend to die prematurely and log more life-years spent ill or suffering or depressed also because they are more likely to live in dangerous neighborhoods, have limited access to clean drinking water, be forced to endure long, sometimes arduous commutes to work, labor in unsafe environments and have little representation in the governance of their local society. If you're about to lose your job, the effects of eating too many trans fats may not be high on your list of worries. "Behavior and lifestyle are determined by the circumstances in which people find themselves," Marmot says simply.

The Commission's ultimate finding, however, is that "it does not have to be this way." Differences in longevity have many causes — the poor in America, for instance, are more likely than the rich to suffer diabetes, obesity or death in a gang fight — but with the new report, WHO aims to uncover "the causes of the causes." It sets out not to cure diabetes or crack down on violence, but to pinpoint the social factors that make the more poorly likely to suffer, and this "gradient," or the degree to which different groups are unequal in health, is far steeper in the U.S. than in most other industrialized countries. One reason, according to commissioner David Satcher, a former U.S. Surgeon General, may be that the U.S. comprises a more diverse population than other places, mixing a high proportion of recent immigrants with long-time American dwellers, which makes it all the more difficult to tackle social determinants early in life. "Two," Satcher says, "[the U.S.] invests probably less in improving that social gradient. There are countries that really invest in making sure that all children have quality education regardless of the education of their parents. There are countries that invest in making sure that everybody has access to a [minimum] level of quality of [health] care. We're one of the few countries that does not do that."

The Commission brought together an international team of academics, politicians and medical experts from around the world, including two former heads of state (a president of Chile and a prime minister of Mozambique), as well as two former directors of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and, for good measure, an economics Nobel laureate, the Harvard-based Amartya Sen. The team of commissioners combed through health data from around the world, and based on that evidence, drew up recommendations to narrow the inequalities of circumstance and opportunity that affect health. The suggestions are broad, only semi-concrete policies that are general enough to be applied to almost every country in the world: increase prenatal care, increase early education and provide free elementary and secondary school for all children. The report suggests cleaning up slums, supplying clean water for everyone, and giving people around the world health insurance and unemployment insurance. And it recommends doing a better job overall of measuring health disparities in the first place.

These demands are, in a word, steep. But the report authors do not feel they are unreasonable. "Health equity within a generation is achievable, it is the right thing to do, and now is the right time to do it," they write. Like any persuasive call to arms, the report is peppered with success stories: Marmot cites the national pension plan in Botswana, which shows that even poor nations manage to provide income security to their elderly; and an Indian rural employment guarantee, which assures workers a minimum number of days of paid manual labor for the state, demonstrating that the poor can still give workers some measure of job security. With better organization, the report authors believe, biological problems like infectious disease can also be brought under control through social policy. Mexico has in a matter of decades consigned widespread diarrheal diseases to the history books by cleaning its water supply.

The key may just be political will. Any government official — or doctor, for that matter — who tries to improve population health has basically just two options. One is to push the frontiers constantly, improving basic health knowledge and medical technology. The other is to work with existing knowledge and technology, but to concentrate on allocating it efficiently. Almost all the WHO's recommendations fall into the latter category, and the commissioners are convinced that focusing on the social determinants of health will save both lives and cash in the long run. "We're wasting a lot of the money that we invest in health and health care," Satcher says. "All sorts of studies show that targeting the social determinants of health is more cost-effective — for everybody, not just for those at the bottom. Everybody in this country, whether they know it or not, suffers from a system that is not committed to closing that [health] gap."

That's not to say that lab breakthroughs won't bring all kinds of new health benefits in the decades to come. "But we don't need to wait for those new breakthroughs to make enormous differences," Marmot says.

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My Boobs Are Not Squeeze Toys :: 8 Tips For More Action In The Bedroom

What is one food that can make a woman’s sex drive disappear?

Wedding cake.

That joke might be funny if I hadn’t heard it from so many married men that complain about the lack of sexual activity taking place in their marriage.

As much as guys might want to think that any reduction in the quantity of time between the sheets (or on the dining room table) is an evil plan concocted by their wives, often times the real answer is staring at them in the mirror.

Now I am not going to get all Cosmopolitan on you and start bashing my fellow man and placing all of the blame on you for any lack of spice in the bedroom, as your partner certainly plays a role in that as well.

But when you take a step back and look at how you have changed over the years, you might just find that there are some small changes that you can make that will have your partner crawling all over you.

The following eight tips are things that you can do right now to avoid being one of those guys that breaks out that joke about the wedding cake.

1. Stop thinking of her as your personal squeeze toy.

Guys, I know it is extremely tempting to constantly be giving your wife a squeeze here and a squeeze there; however, she will most likely not appreciate it as much as you would if she were the one squeezing you.

The path to romance rarely begins with a “drive-by” boob squeeze as you pass your wife in the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the boob squeeze as much (actually more) than the next guy but if you think it is going to lead to some hot and steamy action in the bedroom, guess again.

2. Pay attention to her turn-ons.

No, I am not referring to the type of turn-on such as how she likes it when you kiss the small of her back. What I am talking about here are the every day things that might be a turn-on for your wife or partner. Often times it is things that seem so ordinary that you might not pay attention.

If you get home before your wife, rather than plop down in front of the TV, clean up the house and vacuum the carpets. When she walks in and sees you vacuuming, she may have a hard time not jumping on you right then and there.

3. Cook her dinner.

Sure, some of you guys are outstanding chefs and thrive when putting together a meal. However, many of us defer to our wives far too often when it comes to the cooking.

Once you are done with the cleaning (and any extra-curricular activities that might take place as a result) head into the kitchen and prepare a nice dinner. Throwing hot dogs on the grill with a side of potato chips doesn’t count either. Prepare a meal that includes a main entree along with one or two sides, maybe a nice salad beforehand. Bonus points if you plan ahead and bring home a nice bottle of wine to enjoy with dinner.

4. Plan a date night and surprise her.

Between the demands of work schedules, driving the kids around to their activities, and taking care of things around the house, it is easy to forget that you and your wife need to spend some time alone together. Away from everyone and everything.

Plan a complete date night for you and your wife without letting her know about. Coordinate the baby sitter to take care of the kids and enjoy a night together. About an hour (you might want to make it two depending on your wife) before you need to leave, tell her to put on something nice as you have somewhere to go.

The activities that you plan for the date night aren’t nearly as important as simply making the effort to plan some special time just for the two of you.

5. Randomly let her know that she is on your mind.

Sometimes we get so busy in our day to day activities that we take it for granted that our loved ones know how important they are to us.

Take a few minutes out of your day, maybe before you run into your next meeting, to give her a call and let her know that you were thinking about her. Tell her that you cannot wait to see her tonight so you can kiss her beautiful lips. When you hang up, she’ll know that she was on your mind and now she will be thinking about the kiss, and maybe more.

6. Admit it when you are wrong.

Have you ever argued a point even when you know that you are wrong? It is silly when you think about it, as you know that you messed up, yet you continue to hold your ground and refuse to admit your wrong-doing.

This defensive behavior builds up a wall around you and casts a negative light on your actions. When you can admit when you are wrong, your wife will appreciate the fact that you are aware that you don’t know everything. You might think this is a sign of weakness on your part, she will likely think it is an extremely attractive sign of your confidence.

7. Tease her.

Not the name-calling, hair-pulling kind of teasing - that might be coming later if you’re lucky. What you want to do here is leave her wanting more.

Pull her in close and start to give her a nice, deep kiss - then stop and walk away. She’ll be left wanting more and will be looking for an opportunity to continue where you left off.

8. Cuddle, yes, I said cuddle, after sex.

The word cuddle makes most men cringe, as they usually have one of a few things on their mind after sex: going to sleep, having something to eat, or watching SportsCenter.

Resist the temptation to indulge in one of those activities and cuddle with your wife. You will be showing her that there is nothing more important than being there with her at that moment. Check the scores in the morning over a big breakfast and you might just be given the opportunity to cuddle more and more.

Spark The Romance

Throughout all of these tips, you will hopefully have noticed that most of them are focused on adding a little romance into your relationship rather than talking specifically about sex.

As part of Darren Rowse’s Group Writing Project on Killer Titles, hopefully this post has given you something to think about and captured your attention.

After having a few kids and being married for years, it is easy to lose sight of the importance that romance has in a relationship. Give these tips a try and you will hopefully find that the path to more action in the bedroom begins with romance, not a boob squeeze!

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Star Wars Landspeeder by Daniel Deutsch

Photo: Daniel Deutsch

That’s a full-size and driveable replica of Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder from Star Wars, built by Daniel Deutsch in his own garage:

We built this fiberglass replica landspeeder last spring from the ground up on a custom aluminum chassis. The electric drive system is capable of a top speed around 25 mph. The speeder is the same size as the original, and can travel several miles on a single battery charge.

Check out the “damaged” paint job on the Landspeeder. Excellent! Link - Thanks Richard Young!

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Video of 3038 Photos Shot in 3 Days of Life in Boston

posted by Scott Beale

Robbie shot 3038 photos with his Canon 5D over a period of 3 days of his life in and around Boston. He then created a video of all of the photos played at hi-speed in the order they were shot, set to the song “Dry Lips” by Lightspeed Champion.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Brides Look Forward to Marrying Under Tribal Same-Sex Marriage Law

By SARAH NETTER

A request from a bride-to-be has led an Oregon Indian tribe to legalize same-sex marriage, a move leaders say may be the first of its kind in the United States.

 Kitzen and Jeni Branting plan to marry under the Coquille Indian Tribe's law legalizing gay marriage.
Coquille Indian Tribe member Kitzen Branting, right, plans to marry fiancée Jeni Branting under her tribe's new law that legalizes same-sex marriage.
(Courtesy of Kitzen and Jeni Branting)

The Coquille Indian Tribe now not only recognizes legal same-sex unions from state and federal governments, but it will soon be handing out its own marriage licenses not only to heterosexual couples, but to homosexual couples as well.

Kitzen Branting is like a lot of other brides who have come before her: She has already found her wedding dress, set a date for the ceremony and proudly wears her engagement ring.

But her journey to the altar has been a bit different than most, since she requested new tribal legislation sanctioning same-sex marriage. Branting, 25, and her fiancee, Jeni Branting, plan to be married in May under the tribe's new law.

'Recognition and Respect'

The high school sweethearts have already gathered all the legal documents they are allowed -- wills, powers of attorney and domestic partnership registry -- but they wanted a legal ceremony from the tribe in which Kitzen Branting was raised.

"What I asked them was to be willing to recognize homosexual marriages," she said.

Before the tribe ruled on Kitzen Branting's request in May, the Coquilles did not have a policy defining marriage and did not perform ceremonies or hand out marriage licenses of any kind. Like most other American Indian tribes, the Coquilles have their own laws and customs.

"Native Americans, more than anyone, know about discrimination," Coquille Indian Tribe Chief Ken Tanner told ABCNews.com. "Our directive is to provide recognition and respect to all members of our tribe."

The clause about issuing marriage licenses, however, will not go into effect until the tribe passes legislation on divorce and child custody procedures, according to Coquille tribe attorney Brett Kenney.

But Kenney said he's optimistic that the tribe will be performing marriages before Kitzen and Jeni Branting are ready to walk down the aisle in May.

"I have a deadline now," Kenney said, laughing.

Tanner, 68, said the tribe's law was not intended to make a statement about gay marriage or advocate for similar legislation from any other tribe or governing body.

"We have no interest whatsoever in this being a national interest of any kind," he said.

 Kitzen and Jeni Branting plan to marry under the Coquille Indian Tribe's law legalizing gay marriage.
The brides-to-be are looking forward to being married under Coquille tribal law.
(Courtesy of Kitzen and Jeni Branting)

Looking for Acceptance, Not a Fight

Kitzen and Jeni Branting -- Kitzen legally took Jeni's last name three years ago -- signed up for the domestic partnership registry in their home state of Washington, but Kitzen Branting said getting married under tribal law means more to her than state or federal recognition.

"They're my family and we're a pretty small tribe and I have a close connection to them," Branting said. She remembers summers spent at youth camps and performances of traditional Coquille dances. "They are my immediate people."

Once married, Jeni Branting, 27, who is not a Coquille, will have the same rights as any other tribal spouse, including health insurance and the right to attend tribal functions.

Kitzen Branting said she approached the tribal council several years ago, but the issue was pushed aside for more pressing matters until another tribe member brought it back to the council's attention about a year ago.

The tribe held workshops for members in which the discussion was open for comments on all marriages, though the focus was mostly on the same-sex variety, Branting said.

Kenney said the tribe was in no way trying to pick a fight with the federal government, which partially funds some aspects of Coquille life, including education, natural resources and some health care.

"This is a very internal matter," he said.

In the Brantings' case, the couple -- who are in the process of moving out of Oregon and back to their native Edmonds, Wash. -- would receive tribal health-care benefits under a plan that is 100 percent funded by the tribe, Kenney said.

Sarah Deer, a tribal law attorney, said she doesn't see any reason why the federal government would or should intervene in the Coquille's marriage law, because the legislation does not involve any expenditure of federal funds.

Still, she said, "that's not to say they won't try."

Calls to the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs weren't immediately returned today.

The Coquille tribe, which is based in southwest Oregon and has about 860 members, received federal recognition in 1989.

Tanner said that there have been some tribe members who are displeased by the new legislation and that he appreciates their views just as he does the opinions of the law's supporters.

"Many people have expressed pride in the tribe's courage" to legalize same-sex marriage, Tanner said.

"We only ask that people respect differences and all the Creator's creations," he said.

Varying Tribal Law

Deer, who is a visiting professor at the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minn., and a victim advocacy legal specialist for the California-based Tribal Law and Policy Institute, said she also does not know of any other American Indian tribe that has sanctioned or legalized same-sex marriage, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

"Very few of them want to make a splash in mainstream culture," she said.

Some tribes, however, have signed documents banning gay marriage, including the Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation and the Navajo Nation, in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

Many other tribes, Deer said, have marriage laws that are modeled after state and federal legislation, not necessarily because of the tribe's belief system, but because such tribal laws are typically drafted for the tribe by outside legal counsel.

Still, she said, it's not uncommon for tribes to issue their own marriage licenses or perform traditional wedding rituals.

"Any time a tribe asserts its own definition of a cultural norm ? it's better they do it on their own terms," Deer said.

'Ups and Downs'

Kitzen Branting, then Kitzen Doyle, was a freshman in high school when she met Jeni Branting. The girls' announcement of their sexual orientation was "bumpy," Kitzen Branting said.

The two are now considered permanent members of each others' families.

"We've definitely had our ups and downs over the years," she said. "But overall they've been very supportive."

The women have lived on the tribal reservation in Coos Bay, Ore., for about a year but they are moving back to Washington to live with Jeni Branting's grandmother who was widowed in January.

Nevertheless, Kitzen Branting said she will remain as involved with her tribe as she ever was. She is a Coquille descendent on her father's side, while her mother is Irish. The engagement ring she wears is a traditional Irish claddagh, while Jeni Branting sports a diamond.

So while the Coquille tribe works out the details of the new marriage laws, the two women continue planning for their wedding and are shopping for a second bridal dress.

And Tanner said he's going to marry the Brantings personally.

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Top 3 Most and Least "Fee Crazy" Airlines

Airline fees are a controversial topic these days, so we look a look at the fees that airlines were charging and picked the top 3 most and least "fee crazy" airlines. Avoiding fees is hard, so why not try to avoid the airlines that charge them instead?

Most Fee Crazy Airlines:


  1. U.S. Airways: Not only does U.S. Airways have the distinction of being the only US airline to charge for water, they were also the first to discontinue free snacks. They've also decided to do away with in-flight entertainment. So what will you think about while you're bored, hungry and thirsty? How about that $15 first checked bag fee, the $25 second checked bag fee, the $5-30$ fee to choose your favorite economy class seat, and the whopping $250 fee you paid to change your ticket. Oh, yeah, and remember when they made everyone crazy by charging a $5 fee to book a ticket... with their own website?
  2. United Airlines: United is following U.S. Airways lead with a combination of cutting amenities and introducing fees. They've done away with snacks and are selling "snack boxes." Soon, United will be raising the prices for these items and economy class passengers will be expected to pay $9 for a sandwich. While you're munching on that overpriced nonsense, you can add up the following fees: $15 to check your first bag, $25 for the second bag, and $125 for the third. Then there's the $25 you paid to book your ticket over the phone, the $125 you paid for the privilege of traveling with your pet in the cabin, and of course, the $349 per year that you pay to be able to "stretch out and relax in comfort in seats located at the front of the Economy section,".."if available."
  3. (tie) Delta Airlines & American Airlines: American was the first airline to charge for the 1st checked bag, and Delta has managed to resist that fee — but Delta's other fees are just so darn expensive that we had to call this one a tie. Ultimately, it costs more to check two bags with Delta than it does with U.S. Airways, United, or American. American currently charges $15 for the first bag, $25 for the second, and from $3-6 for snacks. Delta charges nothing for the first checked bag, but if you're thinking of checking two bags, get ready to pay $50 for the second bag, and $125 for the third bag. Ouch! Delta's snacks are complimentary, but they charge from $1-10 more for certain special items.


Least Fee Crazy Airlines:


  1. Southwest Airlines: Southwest is the only major airline that isn't charging a fee to check two bags, and the third checked bag will only cost you $25. There is also no fee to change your ticket. Instead, you'll get a flight credit that is good for one year. They don't charge a fee to book over the phone or in person, and they don't charge a fee for an unaccompanied minor.
  2. AirTran: AirTran has fees but they're lower than a lot of its competitors. For example, the 2nd checked bag is $10 and the third is $50. The ticket change fee is $75, and unaccompanied minors will only cost you $39, as opposed to $100 on Delta, United, etc. You will pay $6 for an advanced seat assignment and $20 to sit in an exit row.
  3. JetBlue: JetBlue keeps threatening to go over to the dark side with new charges for things that used to be free (headsets $1, blankets and pillows $7) but they still have some of the more reasonable fees in the industry. There is no charge for the first checked back, and the second bag will cost you $20. Changing your ticket will cost you $100, and expect to pay from $10-20 more for their mini-business class "extra legroom" seats. Snacks and non-alcoholic beverages are plentiful and free, however. Love those blue potato chips.

If you're looking for an easy way to compare fees, check out this excellent PDF from the folks at SmarterTravel.com, Airfarewatchdog.com, and SeatGuru.com.

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How I survived a heart attack at age 43

When I had my heart attack at 43, all my doctors were really surprised. I was young, I'm not overweight, and I don't eat a lot of fatty foods.

At first, Francisco Menendez thought the tightness in his chest was indigestion.

At first, Francisco Menendez thought the tightness in his chest was indigestion.

In fact, I never eat junk food. My father had a heart attack, but he was in his 70s, so that is not a significant risk factor.

However, a closer look at my medical records would have suggested there was a problem. My total cholesterol was around 400, and my triglycerides, which are really affected by diet and exercise, were 600 to 700. A healthy number is 150 or below.

I was not on a statin, but the doctors were urging me to start exercising more and to cut down on refined carbohydrates, like pasta and bread. That can really make your triglycerides shoot up, and I love all those things.

The night of my heart attack I was home, and I felt a lot of pressure in my chest. Not pain, really. I thought it was indigestion. It went on all night and even though my wife Ingrid urged me to go to the hospital, a heart attack was the last thing on my mind.

The next morning the pressure was so great I could barely walk, so I took a taxi to the hospital. I know you are supposed to call an ambulance, but that's what I did. When I got to the emergency room, I knew what to say: "I have chest pressure, and I think I am having a heart attack." It was 6 a.m. and they wheeled me in and started giving me blood thinners right away.

The doctors were excellent, and they told me they were going to give me an angioplasty. That scared me because after my dad had his angioplasty, he had to have open-heart surgery. I didn't want that. Health Magazine: How doctors diagnose and treat a heart attack

The oddest thing about the angioplasty was that for six hours they told me not to move my foot, and I didn't know why. Turns out there is a plug in your skin where they put the needle in, and if it comes loose your blood shoots out like shaken Champagne because you are on blood thinners. I wish they would have told me that, because I didn't know why I needed to hold my foot still.

I ended up having three angioplasties, but my heart attack was mild. It turns out my heart was less than 5 percent damaged. I ended up on a lot of medications. I take a statin, TriCor, and Plavix, and a baby aspirin every day.

I have a stress test every year and a half, and so far my cholesterol looks OK; it's about 160. I don't think about myself as a person who had a heart attack, but I think my wife worries.

I still hate to exercise, and I do eat bread and pasta, but mostly my diet is fine.

The worst thing about being a young heart-attack survivor is knowing I will have to be on these medications forever. I am convinced that if I became a strict vegetarian and got all the stress out of my life I could go off the meds. But that would require me to quit my job and move to the country, and I am not ready to do that yet. -- As told to Bryan Miller

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Teeth Can Yield Stem Cells, Scientists Say


Amitabh Avasthi
for National Geographic News

Dental pulp from wisdom teeth could be a new source of therapeutic stem cells, Japanese researchers announced recently. Like embryonic stem cells, the new cells—known as mesenchymal stem cells—are capable of developing into a variety of tissues, including bone, cartilage, and fat. These new lines of stem cells can be created without the use of an embryo—possibly sidestepping controversy.

In many countries adults routinely get minor surgeries to remove wisdom teeth.

"The [wisdom] tooth is usually discarded into trash, so there are no ethical concerns," said Hajime Ohgushi, principal research scientist at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in the Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan.

However, unlike embryonic stem cells, the newfound cells cannot morph into almost any type of cell in the body.

(Related: "Stem Cell Breakthrough: No More Need to Destroy Embryos?" [August 23, 2005.])

The new research has also not been published or vetted by other scientists in the field.

Stifled

Work on embryonic stem cells has long been mired in controversy.

The cells could lead to breakthroughs in regenerative medicine by allowing certain tissues and diseased organs to be replaced.

But harvesting the cells typically requires the destruction of an embryo, which critics equate with the taking of a life.

Since 2001 the United States government has restricted public funding to a limited number of embryonic stem cell lines, a move many U.S. scientists say has stifled their work.

The race to create induced pluripotent cells—cells capable of developing into most types of cells in the body—in humans began in 2006, when scientists at Kyoto University in Japan announced they had inserted genes into cells from the tails of mice and reprogrammed them into cells with properties of embryonic stem cells.

In 2007 researchers from Kyoto University and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, separately announced that they had successfully applied the technique to human cells by using viruses to ferry four genes—OCT4, SOX2, NANOG, and LIN28—into skin cells.

Researchers from the two teams said they had given properties of stem cells to human cells taken from skin and connective tissues.

Now Ohgushi and his colleagues claim they used just three sets of genes—OCT4, SOX2, and KLF4—to program cells cultured from the center of a wisdom tooth into adult stem cells.

The researchers add that their success rate, about 10 stem cells for every 50,000 cells, matches that of the Kyoto researchers.

Better Source

Ohgushi said stem cells derived from wisdom teeth are not only easier to store—the tooth they used had been sitting in a freezer for three years—but also better than those extracted from bone marrow.

Stem cells found in bone marrow cannot express telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT), a type of protein crucial to cell division and growth, Ohgushi explained.

"Our cells clearly express TERT and showed [more] extensive … activity than stem cells from bone marrow."

Though clinical trials are still years away, the researcher envisions banks where donors could store their wisdom teeth and access their own stem cells to treat potential diseases later in their lives.

Shinya Yamanaka, a researcher from Kyoto University who was not involved in the teeth research, agreed that the discovery could provide an alternative source of stem cells for use in regenerative medicine.

But he said it was odd that the discovery was apparently announced directly to the press and that the results did not seem to be backed by a peer-reviewed publication.

"I know venture companies do this to keep investors' interest," Yamanaka said. "It was surprising to me that government-backed scientists did this."

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Dealing with Difficult People


Can you recall the last time you had to deal with a negative or difficult person? Or the last time someone said something with the intention of hurting you? How did you handle it? What was the result? What can you do in the future to get through these situations with peace and grace?

No matter where we go, we will face people who are negative, people who oppose our ideas, people who piss us off or people who simply do not like us. There are 6.4 billion people out there and conflict is a fact of life. This fact isn’t the cause of conflict but it is the trigger to our emotions and our emotions are what drive us back to our most basic survival instinct; react and attack back to defend ourselves.

In these instinctual moments, we may lose track of our higher selves and become the human animal with an urge to protect ourselves when attacked. This too is natural. However, we are the only animal blessed with intelligence and having the ability to control our responses. So how can we do that?

I regularly get asked “How do you deal with the negative comments about your articles? They are brutal. I don’t think I could handle them.” My answer is simple, “I don’t let it bother me to begin with.” It wasn’t always this simple, and took me some time before overcoming this natural urgency to protect myself and attack back.

I know it’s not easy, if it was easy, there wouldn’t be difficult or negative people to begin with.

Why Bother Controlling Our Responses?

  • Hurting Ourselves - One of my favorite sayings is “Holding a grudge against someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” The only person we hurt is ourselves. When we react to negativity, we are disturbing our inner space and mentally creating pain within ourselves.
  • It’s Not About You, It’s About Them - I’ve learned that when people initiate negativity, it is a reflection of their inner state expressed externally and you just happen to be in front of that expression. It’s not personal, so why do we take it personally? In short: Because our ego likes problems and conflict. People are often so bored and unhappy with their own lives that they want to take others down with them. There have been many times when a random person has left a purposefully hurtful comment on TSN, and regularly checked back to see if anyone else responded to their comment, waiting eagerly to respond with more negativity.
  • Battle of the Ego - When we respond impulsively, it is a natural and honest response. However, is it the smart thing to do? What can be resolved by doing so? The answer: Nothing. It does however feed our ego’s need for conflict. Have you noticed that when we fight back, it feels really satisfying in our heads? But it doesn’t feel very good in our soul? Our stomach becomes tight, and we start having violent thoughts? When we do respond irrationally, it turns the conversation from a one-sided negative expression into a battle of two egos. It becomes an unnecessary and unproductive battle for Who is Right?
  • Anger Feeds Anger. Negativity Feeds Negativity. - Rarely can any good come out of reacting against someone who is in a negative state. It will only trigger anger and an additional reactive response from that person. If we do respond impulsively, we’ll have invested energy in the defending of ourselves and we’ll feel more psychologically compelled to defend ourselves going forward. Have you noticed that the angrier our thoughts become, the angrier we become? It’s a negative downward spiral.
  • Waste of Energy - Where attention goes, energy flows. What we focus on tends to expand itself. Since we can only focus on one thing at a time, energy spent on negativity is energy that could have been spent on our personal wellbeing.
  • Negativity Spreads - I’ve found that once I allow negativity in one area of my life, it starts to subtly bleed into other areas as well. When we are in a negative state or holding a grudge against someone, we don’t feel very good. We carry that energy with us as we go about our day. When we don’t feel very good, we lose sight of clarity and may react unconsciously to matters in other areas of our lives, unnecessarily.
  • Freedom of Speech - People are as entitled to their opinions as you are. Allow them to express how they feel and let it be. Remember that it’s all relative and a matter of perspective. What we consider positive can be perceived by another as negative. When we react, it becomes me-versus-you, who is right? Some people may have a less than eloquent way of expressing themselves - it may even be offensive, but they are still entitled to do so. They have the right to express their own opinions and we have the right and will power to choose our responses. We can choose peace or we can choose conflict.
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Unwanted tattoos can be removed by cream injected into skin - without pain or scarring

By Rebecca Camber

Tattoos can often be a case of ink now, regret later.

Extracting the dye from the skin has usually been a painful process.

However, cosmetic surgeons are now offering what they say is a more efficient and less painful way of removing body art.

Step-by-step: The Rejuvi cream is injected through tiny needles and causes the ink to come to the surface of the skin, form a scab and then drop off

A cream called Rejuvi can be injected into the skin in much the same way as the ink is injected into the top layers of the epidermis to create the tattoo.

The Rejuvi is absorbed by the pigmented cells and bonds with the pigment, say experts.

This softens the ink and pushes it to the surface of the skin where it forms a scab.

When the scab falls off after six to eight weeks, the ink goes with it.

Experts claim the technique, first used in the U.S., has a higher success rate than laser treatment, is cheaper, less painful and has a minimal risk of scarring.

Stuart Harrison, director of Oxford Skin Clinics, which has just started using the process in its Harley Street, Richmond and Oxford clinics said: 'It is uncomfortable rather than painful but it is less painful than having the tattoo itself and certainly a lot less painful than having laser treatment.

'Laser works by breaking up the ink pigmentation. However this works by using the body's natural processes.

'The reason that a tattoo stays there is that a coating is put around the ink to protect it from the body's immune response.

'But this cream makes the ink identifiable to the body so that it realises the ink is there and starts rejecting it and healing itself.'

The technique was first pioneered in the U.S. but until recently the only way of using the cream was forcing it into the skin which had a 'cheese grater' effect on the skin.

Now a new micropigmentation gun can apply cream under the surface of the skin without scarring.

Previously the most popular method of removal in the UK has been laser treatment which breaks up the tattoo pigment in the skin, flushing the particles away through the immune system.

However, it can take several treatments and some complain the ink never completely fades.

Other treatments include a skin peeling acid or dermabrasion which involves freezing the skin and sloughing it off with a rotary tool.

It can lead to scarring and even a skin graft.

Some tattoos are surgically cut out but only when they are too deep to be treated with laser.

But Mr Harrison claims that this cream has a minimal risk of scarring.

He added: 'There is a risk of scarring but it is probably no worse than an ordinary cut.

'Aftercare is important to minimise the risk of any scaring.'

However, the efficacy of Rejuvi has been questioned on some U.S. chat forums.

Original here

Overcome 5 Sexual Mismatches for Hotter Sex

Mismatched socks are tolerable. Mismatched sex is not. Avoid these five common sexual disconnects—and find the right fit with any woman.

1. The mismatch: Her arousal is at a slow burn, but you're raring to go.

Sure, women are typically slower than men at becoming sexually amped. "But it actually takes much less time than even women realize," says Scott Haltzman, M.D., author of The Secrets of Happily Married Men. Rig the system: If you reinforce the idea that she's aroused, it may happen more quickly. Tell her you see that her nipples are hard and you feel she's wet. Her brain will signal her body to feel that desire, Haltzman says.

2. The mismatch: You like dirty talk, but she's timid.
Just because she's keeping quiet, don't assume she's opposed to sex talk. "A woman may not like to talk dirty because it takes her away from her body and sensations," says Joy Davidson, Ph.D., a New York–based sex therapist and the author of Fearless Sex. "But she might really like it if you talk dirty to her." Feed her lines. While you're teasing her, ask her what she wants you to do next. During sex, ask her what she likes best about how it feels. "In the future, she'll have those phrases on hand," Davidson says.

3. The mismatch: You always make the first move.
Women may subconsciously feel they need permission to take the lead, says Patti Britton, Ph.D., author of The Art of Sex Coaching. Casually say, "I wonder what it'd be like if you took the lead tonight. That would really turn me on." Also, realize that any of her casual comments about sex—or anything about either your body or hers—are often subtle requests, Haltzman says.

4. The mismatch: Your number is higher than hers.
A big gap in bedroom know-how can make her worry about her performance or about being just another brick in the wall, says Haltzman. In that case, "don't rush in with your whole utility belt of sexual experiences and toys," he says. Face-to-face positions—cowboy (a.k.a. cowgirl), missionary, sitting together on a chair—are best, because they offer her a sense of intimacy and connection. And forget about the Big O at first. Focusing on orgasm only stresses her.

5. The mismatch: The two of you don't measure up.
If there's a significant height difference between the two of you, furniture can be your best friend. If she's taller, try lying on an ottoman or a small bench and have her straddle you. That way, she can still have her feet on the ground, Haltzman says, "giving her leverage and flexibility." Or, if you're taller, "try holding her up and pinning her against the wall," says Brian Zamboni, Ph.D., a sex therapist and clinical psychologist at the University of Minnesota.

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World's Deadliest Delicacies

Adam Bulger


Bad berries, frightening fish and other natural-born killers

When Edward Bachner was arrested in July for buying enough poison to kill about 100 people, he inadvertently implicated sushi chefs as potential bioterrorists. The 35-year-old Chicagoan ordered 98 milligrams of Tetrodotoxin, a nerve toxin found in the Japanese puffer fish served as fugu, an expensive sashimi dish. Sometimes called the Russian roulette of sushi and once featured on an episode of The Simpsons, fugu requires delicate preparation for its edible meat to be separated from its toxic internal organs. Before they're licensed to serve fugu, Japanese chefs undergo months of training and a rigorous exam which only 30 percent of applicants pass.

Even when properly prepared, fugu's toxicity is a critical part of its appeal. The flavor is so subtle it's nearly nonexistent, but eating it numbs the lips, and creates an alcohol-like buzz for the diner. Popular in Japan, it's banned in Europe and offered in a small number of restaurants in the United States and Korea.

See our slideshow of World's Deadliest Delicacies.

But while it's the most notorious toxic fish, fugu is neither the most powerful nor the most commonly served. And beyond fish, there are scores of other foods whose deadliness equals their deliciousness, including commonly served fruits and vegetables that come with a sickening (and maybe lethal) kick. While the dangers can usually be avoided through proper preparation, this association with danger is irresistible to adventurous diners.

Fish present the most clear and present danger. There are hundreds of species of toxic fish, and many find their ways to dinner plates.

"People would definitely be surprised at how venomous fish are," says Dr. Leo Smith, assistant fish curator at the Field Museum in Chicago. Smith is a leading researcher of poisonous and venomous fish, and says that while snakes are more often associated with venom, there are far more poisonous species of fish. "Because humans live on land, they don't think of fish as venomous."

In nature, the most venomous fish is the stonefish, a fixture of Asian and tropic cuisine whose potentially fatal sting has been described as the worst pain a human can feel. However, human death from eating stonefish is rare to nonexistent.

"There's an important distinction you have to make between poisonous and venomous," Smith says. Venom is commonly deployed when a fish bites its prey, but certain fish are poisonous due to their diet and environment.

See our slideshow of World's Deadliest Delicacies.

When stonefish venom is cooked, it loses its potency. And when served raw—as is the sashimi dish Okoze—its venomous dorsal fins are simply removed. The body meat that remains is delicious and nontoxic. On the other hand, puffer fish and the silver-striped blaasop do not deploy venom, but they are nonetheless toxic to humans because of bacteria in their diet.

As a result, puffer fish farmers in Japan have been able to breed non-poisonous puffer fish by restricting the fish's diet. The newly safe but still legally suspect puffer fish liver, where Tetrodotoxin is most concentrated, has reportedly become a sought-after underground delicacy in parts of Japan.

Of course, you needn't rely on the ocean to provide dangerous delicacies; a number of poison plants serve as side dishes and garnishes around the world. Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica. This bulbous-looking plant has the look and taste of scrambled eggs when cooked, and is often paired with stonefish and eaten as breakfast. But pray that breakfast comes at the right time—ackee can cause extreme nausea if served when it's not ripe enough, which occurs often enough for the condition to acquire the nickname "Jamaican vomiting sickness." It can be even fatal to children.

Like ackee, cassava is a dietary staple in the tropics. In Brazil, Peru, Cuba and other countries, it's used to make breads, ground into pastes and fried into cakes. Also like ackee, it can have undesirable consequences if not washed and prepared properly; the root vegetable contains enough cyanide to kill. Cassava is found in Africa, too, where it's at home with the Namibian bullfrog, a nasty-looking specimen that grows to the size of a housecat—and contains enough poison to be lethal.

The fans of these foods argue that deliciousness outweighs the danger. And anyway, a simple chicken dinner isn't guaranteed to be safe. According to the Center for Disease Control, an average of 600 Americans die from the chicken-borne bacterial disease Salmonella every year. On the other hand, annual worldwide deaths by fugu amount are just a small fraction of that.

Of course, Salmonella poisoning occurs if the chicken is undercooked or dirty—the chicken itself isn't inherently poisonous. James Briscione, chef and instructor at Manhattan's Institute of Culinary Education, speculates that it takes a certain mindset to order a dish with a lethal reputation. "I think it gets back to when a kid eats worms in the playground. It's an adventurous thing to do and you're going to have a story to tell."

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Utah Woman Charged With Homicide in Alcohol Poisoning Death of Teen She Was Called to Help

A Utah woman was charged with homicide in the alcohol poisoning death of a 14-year-old boy she reportedly tried to help.

Authorities say that the teen, Jess "Micade" Horrocks, died because of inaction on the part of 24-year-old Candice Collard, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Collard now could spend 15 years in prison if she is convicted of second-degree felony homicide.

Prosecutors said Collard was allegedly called to help Horrocks, who had been drinking hard liquor in Uintah County with some friends April 12, according to the Tribune.

Horrocks guzzled so much alcohol that he became unresponsive. Collard was called, but took the boy to her home 13 miles away rather than driving him to a hospital, Uintah County Deputy Attorney Greg Lamb told the paper.

Another adult called 911 about midnight after discovering the teen, who was declared brain dead the next day and removed from life support.

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Applebee's Food Comes With Delicious "Use By" Sticker

Reader Jamie's Applebee's dinner came with an interesting ingredient: an expiration date sticker. Understandably grossed out, Jamie asked Applebee's for some new food. They agreed, fished out the sticker and brought the old food back. Ick.

Jamie writes:

Me and my 4 other military friends were enjoying our appetizers when our food arrived. After eating a few bites, I noticed a "food good until" date sticker cooked in with my food. I did not know a date was required on my food...

Anyways, we called the waiter over to show him what was going on. "Well," he said, "Sometimes the food bags and stickers can be mixed in with the chicken when cut up."

WTF! He said he is sorry and is there anything else he can do? Yes you can sir, you can get me another bowl of my food, cooked new. Well, he took the bowl back and about 2 min later he brought out another bowl... 2 min to cook a new bowl?

It looked exactly the same. My fork was still in the bowl. I told him I wanted it to go. He said he was sending the manager over to talk to me. Well the manager came over and said he was sorry and "any drinks need to be refilled?"

Jamie says he didn't get new food, nor did the manager take the sticker pasta off the bill. You stay classy, Applebee's!

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