Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Good News: My Migraines May Be Good for My Breasts

Horrible head pain may have a very silver lining.
I got my first migraine on Saturday, July 13, 1985. I had fled to the rooftop of my apartment building to escape the Live Aid concert that my husband was blaring full blast from the TV. Thirty minutes later I ran back down and told him I thought I was having a stroke. My head hurt terribly and there was a squiggly shiny thing vibrating in my eyes.

A neurologist diagnosed me with a migraine, and I have suffered several of the nasty headaches with auras (light disturbances) since. I can’t think of the word migraine without also thinking about Bob Geldof (the organizer of Live Aid). And the next thought I have is what poor taste he has to name his children Fifi, Peaches, and Pixie. But I digress.

Now I get to add a much better association: healthy breasts. Unbelievably, recent research reveals that women who get migraines (even just once) may be less likely to get some kinds of breast cancer. This is huge and such an unexpected gift—kind of like finding out that cheese and eggs are good for your heart.

The news came from cancer epidemiologist Christopher Li, MD, and his colleagues at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, who surveyed 3,500 postmenopausal women, 2,000 of whom had breast cancer and 1,500 who didn’t. They discovered that the women with migraines had a 30% lower risk of developing breast cancer.

How could the pain in my head have anything to do with sickness in my boobs? Researchers speculate that estrogen could be the key. Higher estrogen levels have been linked to breast cancer, and migraines sometimes occur during estrogen fluctuations—when it drops during menstruation, for example.
Of course, the breast cancer benefit could come from the drugs that migraine sufferers take, typically nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, of which I am a very big fan. After years of experimentation, I’ve found I can usually "cure" a migraine within a few hours by chugging two cans of Diet Coke and swallowing four Advil. Together, they work a lot better than many of the drugs I’ve been prescribed, and now I know the caffeine and meds may be good for my girls too! A Harvard study found a "a weak inverse association between caffeine-containing beverages and risk of postmenopausal breast cancer."

So, the next time I get a migraine and pop that first can of Diet Coke, I'll drink to my girls' health and to the pain passing quickly.

Original here

Opponents brace for end of stem cell ban

By Mimi Hall

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which held a semi-annual meeting this month in Baltimore, says lifting a ban on funding for stem cell research would alienate millions.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which held a semi-annual meeting this month in Baltimore, says lifting a ban on funding for stem cell research would alienate millions.
WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama could reignite an emotional national debate over the promise and the perils of medical research using cells taken from human embryos.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is warning that Obama will alienate millions, and abortion opponents are bracing for a fight. Medical researchers, meanwhile, are rejoicing at the prospect of freedom from a government policy they say has stymied efforts to develop life-saving treatments.

Like previous presidents, Obama is expected to issue a flurry of executive orders after he takes office Jan. 20. Some could reverse Bush administration policies; others could promote his own.

Ending a ban on government funding for research using embryonic stem cells would be among the most controversial.

"The question is, does the Bush policy get replaced with the law of the jungle" where scientists can create and clone human embryos for the sole purpose of studying their cells and then destroying them, asks Richard Doerflinger, the bishops conference's associate director of the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. "We are very concerned about it as a moral issue."

Samuel Casey of Advocates International, a Christian law firm that opposes abortion rights, says a change in the Bush policy "would give a green light to the kind of eugenic human experiments that people think of when they talk about cloning."

Scientists say cells taken from human embryos offer the most promise of being used to develop therapies for Parkinson's, diabetes and other diseases. Some scientists have found cells taken from adults also have lifesaving potential.

"Current policy has depressed the field" of research and caused an exodus of scientists from the United States to other countries where such research is flourishing, University of Iowa researcher Nicholas Zavazava says. But "we are a big country; we ought to be able to roll things back."

States such as California have gone ahead and funded stem cell research on their own in the absence of federal money.

Obama's campaign promised broad support for stem cell research. His website says he "believes we owe it to the American public to explore the potential of stem cells."

After the election, John Podesta, chief of Obama's transition team, said aides are reviewing a host of areas where Obama might act fast, including on federal funding for research using embryonic stem cells.

Controversy surrounding the research has simmered since 2001. That's when President Bush imposed the funding ban during his first prime-time televised address to the nation. His decision, a month before the 9/11 attacks, was regarded at the time as likely to be one of the most important of his presidency.

Abortion opponents, Catholics and many political conservatives were elated. Others, including former first lady Nancy Reagan and California's Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, support the research and have pushed for it ever since.

Twice during his presidency, Bush has vetoed bills passed by Congress that would have lifted restrictions on stem cell research.

If Obama issues an order reversing the ban, Congress will have to act again — and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has suggested it will. A law on the books since 1996 bans funding of research that harms embryos and would prevent funding for research even on cells from embryos slated to be discarded by fertility clinics.

Opponents of the research have no recourse against an executive order from the White House aimed at releasing tens of millions of dollars. But they can do battle on Capitol Hill.

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Motrin Learns: Hell Hath No Fury Like Baby-Wearing Moms

Note to self: when targeting an ad campaign after a specific demographic, try not to piss that demographic off with your ad campaign.

It sounds like a no-brainer, but apparently the makers and marketers at Motrin missed that memo. Instead, they put out this video that attempts to “relate” with mothers who use harnesses to carry their babies. The method is growing in popularity as it makes carrying a baby easier and allows for a stronger maternal bond. Motrin tried to attach their product to this.

They failed miserably. Here is a bootleg copy, just in case Motrin takes down the video.

The flaws in this video are too numerous to list, but it’s clear that the tone was wrong, the message was absurd, and the only possible result was an enraged group of former customers.

On Twitter, the conversations have been furious. As of the time of this post, #motrinmoms on Twitter has gone beyond the 1500 message archive limit in 12 hours, and there are several others going strong at #motrin, #motringate, and others. The vast majority of the responses have been negative.

The blog response hasn’t been any better. There have already been dozens of posts about it today. Some classic ones are listed at the bottom of this story. All are negative. The response hasn’t been good, but as someone who has not experienced baby-wearing, I decided to consult an expert.

To test the ad, I showed it to my wife, a mother of three who has been there, done that. I showed it to her with no prompting, no bias, just a “Hey honey, have you seen this?”

Her response at the 11 second mark: “Are you freakin’ kidding me? This must have been made by a man who was completely clueless about anything we go through.”

By the 15 second mark, her response became unprintable until the end when she asked, “What’s their next video going to say, that breast-feeding is a pain in the boob, so take Motrin? No way, I’m out. It’s generic Ibuprofen from now on.”

This video response says it all.

The message here is simple. In marketing (and just about every other aspect of life) be aware of the likely response before jamming your foot into your mouth and down your throat.

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The Vine Less Traveled: Wine For Beginners

With the advent of such vine-centric movies as Sideways and Bottle Shock, America is buzzing. But not on coffee. Exit the Era of Starbucks, enter the Age of the Vine. Wine, that is. Man has been drinking wine for about 7000 years, but only recently has it come into its own in the ‘New World.’ But the sphere of wine is so extensive, so esoteric, that most of us don’t know where to begin, and walk the vine less traveled under the sneering gaze of wine snobs, embarrassed of our lack of knowledge. But the truth is, ignorance is only a place to begin. You don’t need to be an expert to enjoy wine. But you do need an open mind. Here’s the skinny on selecting and enjoying the full-bodied fruit of the vine.

The first myth we need to dispel is that you need to spend a lot of money to enjoy wine. Wrong! More expensive does not always mean a better wine. The price of wine, like anything on the market, is controlled by demand. If a particular wine is very popular, sellers will feel justified in charging more for it. You may discover some genuinely delicious, unknown wines, which are not as expensive. While it’s best not to get taken in by price tags, a good question to ask yourself is, ‘How much do I want to spend?’ And something that might determine your price range is the occasion. Are you just looking for something nice to drink with a meal, or is this for special anniversary? The price range on wines is vast: anything from $2 or $3 to literally thousands of dollars. There’s nothing wrong with not wanting to spend heaps of cash on wine. In fact, a quick perusal of your local bookstore will probably turn up several guides on ‘great wines for less,’ or something along those lines.

But don’t get too attached to those buyers manuals and points systems. They are a good tool to use in the beginning, but like they say on Pirates of the Caribbean, they’re more like guidelines than strict rules. Trust your instincts! As you become more savvy and experienced, you’ll learn what you want in a wine. Remember, not everyone is going to love the same thing, and that includes the so-called experts. A good example of what I’m talking about, happened at a wine-tasting given by my local shop. I saw a gentleman thoroughly enjoying one of the samples. But when he consulted his guide book, he decided not to buy it.

That isn’t to say a little knowledge can’t help inform what your taste buds are telling you. Think back to when you were small. You could feel the entire range of human emotions, but you didn’t know the right words to express them. With wine too, there will be a bit of confusion until you learn the basics. Let’s start with the wine itself.

Just browsing through a wine shop, right away you’ll notice a big difference: color. Wine is either Red or White. [Rose or Blush, although pink in color and technically made from red grapes, should be treated is as a white wine.] White wine is more Acidic, and tends to be lighter, brighter, and dryer in taste. Also more refreshing, as it is drunk chilled (but not ice cold!). Whereas Red wine usually has a more complicated flavor, mostly because the skins are involved during the fermentation process, giving it a Tannic taste. Tannin is the stuff in the skins (and sometimes the barrels) that give you that drying-out feeling in your mouth when you take a sip of red wine. If you’re having trouble distinguishing between Tannic and Acidic, try paying attention to how your mouth feels after you’ve swallowed the wine. Both Acid and Tannin will leave your mouth dry, but Acid will make your mouth salivate as a response (like when you bite a wedge of lime), whereas Tannin will stay dry.

There are about as many ways to group wine as there are ways to organize your music collection. My favorite belongs to wine guru Heidi Yorkshire:

‘There are three types of wine in the world: 1) I like it, 2) I don’t like it, and 3) I’ll drink it if someone else is paying for it.’

That’s as simple as it gets. But if you want to get a little more technical, here are two basic ways to look at wine: The Grape: the species or blend of grapes; or The Place: where the grapes grow.

Old Country (mostly European) wine is named after the region where the grapes are grown, like Burgundy or Riesling. New Country wine (pretty much everywhere else) is named after the type of grapes used to make it. You may think this is kind of silly, and you’d be right. But stop and think: the place where the grapes grow gives them their unique taste. Some grapes need a specific climate, so you would expect only certain grape varieties to grow in certain places. Wines labeled by the names of the grapes are called Varietal Wines to distinguish them from wines named after geographic region.

Here are some of the major White Wines:

Chardonnay: By far the most popular of the white wines, Chardonnay is typically rich, full-bodied, and dry.

Riesling: A very classy German wine (but also made in the Alsace region of France), Riesling tends to be more light-bodied and refreshing, with high acidity levels and a fruity/flowery flavor.

Sauvignon Blanc: A crisp, controversial wine, Sauvignon Blanc is complex with mineral aromas. Though not to everyone’s taste, this is also grown in France under the names Bordeaux Blanc and Sancerre (Bordeaux and Loire Valley).

Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio: Believed to be a mutation of the Pinot Noir grape, is an important wine throughout Italy, Germany, France, Oregon, and California. This Pinot is low in acidity, often with subtle fruit flavors.

Here are the big Reds:

Cabernet Sauvignon: The King of the Red wines, Cab is grown all over the world, but the two most important regions are Bordeaux and California. Fairly tannic, Cab is a rich, firm, and full-bodied tipple, that is often blended with other grapes.

Merlot: Don’t believe everything you see in the movies; Merlot is a great wine in its own right. Full bodied, but low in tannins, the aromas and flavors of Merlot are plum-like and chocolaty. It is the most-planted grape in Bordeaux, and also important in Washington state and California.

Pinot Noir: Considered the Holy Grail of connoisseurs, Pinot Noir is the difficult, troublesome grape that keeps winemakers up at night. But it can also make a genius wine: complex, mellow, with a range of flavors from fruity to woodsy.

Syrah/Shiraz: This full-bodied wine (my personal favorite!) can be made in a variety of ways all over the world. In the Rhone Valley, Syrah is firm and smoky. In Australia, Shiraz is softer and fruitier. This wine is more reliable than Pinot, but is also a bit of a maverick and may surprise you.

Now, these lists are by no means exhaustive. This is just a place to start. Once you’ve got the bug, you will definitely want to branch out and explore the many other wonderful varietals. The great thing about the world of vines is that it is always changing. Even the experts are constantly revising what they know. The important thing is to be adventurous. Unless you’ve found an absolute gem, don’t get the same wine each time you visit the shop. Find a friendly and knowledgeable wine merchant; usually they are more than willing to help you out and talk shop. Experiment to find out which wines compliment your favorite meals. Have your wine-curious friends over for a tasting and ask them each to bring a bottle. This way you get to compare smell and taste impressions with others. Don’t be embarrassed by the silly wine-tasting ritual you read about in so many books; think of it as a way to broaden the experience of wine. And you’ll be very glad to know that the majority of wines are meant to be drunk young,. ‘Old’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘Better,’ so there’s no need for delayed gratification.

But whatever you do, don’t listen to someone who makes blanket statements like, “Stay away from Italian wines,” or “Don’t buy anything with an animal on the label.” These people are putting their own ignorance on display with such remarks, because the label design is not the wine, and Italy produces some rather fine wines, usually more reasonably priced because they are undervalued.

The worst thing you can do is to let yourself be persuaded out of your own opinion. So don’t be so concerned with what you ‘should’ like. Just enjoy what you do like. You’re the one that has to drink it. For years, I’ve been trying to convince my mother not to chill her red wine, but serve it at the recommended ‘room temperature.’ But that’s the way she likes it, so who am I to argue? Ultimately, wine is meant to be enjoyed, not revered or analyzed under a microscope.

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The Step-By-Step Thanksgiving Action Plan

By Glen Waggoner

Turkey on Plate

Tom Grill/ Iconica

Steps 1-12: Roasting the Turkey

Figure five-and-a-half-to-six-and-a-half-hours roasting at 325 degrees for a twenty- to twenty-two-pound unstuffed moderately chilled turkey.

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Lightly cook one cup each chopped carrots and onions for five to eight minutes; chop and set aside two cups each raw carrots and onions.

3. Dry the turkey inside and out with paper towels.

4. Sprinkle the cavity with two teaspoons salt and add cooked vegetables, along with a handful each of parsley and celery tops.

5. With a large needle and strong string, sew down the neck and cent flaps, and truss the legs and wings (nothing looks so indecent as a turkey with legs akimbo and cavity gapping; it deserves a more dignified fate).

6. Rub the turkey all over with soft butter, and place it breast up on a rack in a roasting pan.

7. Insert a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, but not against bone.

8. Dip a double thickness of cheesecloth (enough to cover the turkey’s breast) in cooking oil and drape it over the turkey.

9. Roast in a preheated 325-degree oven five-and-a-half-to-six-and-a half-hours (see below, step 12).

10. Baste every thirty minutes, at first with cooking oil, then with pan drippings.

11. About one-and-a-half hours before the end of the estimated cooking time, add raw carrots and onions to the pan.

12. The turkey is done when the mean thermometer reads 180 to 185 degrees. (Some signs that it’s getting there: juices run from turkey into pan… drumstick moves fairly easily in socket… lower part of thigh, when penetrated deeply with fork, exudes clear yellow juice… people crowd around the stove saying “I think it’s done” and “looks right to me.”) Remember: the turkey should rest, partially covered by foil, for about forty-five minutes after it comes out of the oven before you start carving it.

Steps 13-24: Making the Gravy

I once celebrated Thanksgiving at the home of a friend who threw out the giblets and made no gravy because she couldn’t bear the thought of toughing gizzards and livers and hearts. She might as well have thrown out the turkey.

13. Chop the neck into two-inch pieces, quarter the gizzard, and halve the heart.

14. Brown the giblets in four tablespoons of cooking oil, drain, and remove from the pan.

15. Cook one cup each chopped carrots and onions in same oil five to eight minutes until tender.

16. Return the giblets to the pan, add one cup dry white wine, two cups chicken broth, and enough water to cover by an inch or so.

17. Add one teaspoon salt, one bay leaf, and one-half teaspoon sage.

18. Simmer partially covered for two and a half to three minutes.

19. Strain, degrease the pan, and return the stock into it.

20. Blend three tablespoons cornstarch with one-fourth cup chicken broth, beat the mixture into the stock, and simmer three to five minutes.

21. Remove from the heat but keep warm on the back of the stove until the turkey is done.

22. When you’re removed the turkey to the platter, spoon fat out of the roasting pan, add the turkey stock, and stir over moderately high heat for five minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

23. Strain into a saucepan, degrease, correct the seasoning, reheat, and pour into a gravy boat.

24. Prepare for a standing ovation.

Adapted from "The Modern American Thanksgiving" by Glen Waggoner, from Esquire's November 1984 issue.

Original here

New honeycomb tire is 'bulletproof'

Posted by Mark Rutherford

The University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Wausau, Wis., company have come up with a 37-inch, bullet and bomb-proof Humvee tire based on a polymeric web so cool looking there's no need for hub caps.

Resilient Technologies and Wisconsin-Madison's Polymer Engineering Center are creating a "non-pneumatic tire" (no air required) that will support the weight of add-on armor, survive an IED attack, and still make a 50 mph getaway. It's basically a round honeycomb wrapped with a thick, black tread.

The military wants an alternative to the current Humvee "run flat" tires, which despite the name, still need a minimal amount of air pressure to roll and can leave troops stranded after being shot or blown out.

"You see reports all the time of troops who were injured by an IED or their convoys got stranded because their tires were shot out," said Resilient's General Manager Mike Veih. "There's all sorts of armor on the vehicle, but if you're running in the theater and get your tire shot out, what have you got? You've got a bunch of armor in the middle of a field."

In developing the design, the Wisconsin team studied other airless tires, like the Michelin "Tweel," but in the end settled on lessons learned from nature.

The patent-pending design mimics the precise, six-sided cell pattern found in a honeycomb and best duplicates the "ride feel" of pneumatic tires, according to the developers.

"The goal was to reduce the variation in the stiffness of the tire, to make it transmit loads uniformly and become more homogenous," said mechanical engineering professor Tim Osswald. "And the best design, as nature gives it to us, is really the honeycomb."

This particular geometry also does a great job of reducing noise and heat levels while rolling-two common problems with past models.

Costs per tire are expected to be the same or less than current units. Delivery is anticipated for 2011.

Mark Rutherford is a West Coast-based freelance writer. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network, and is not an employee of CNET. Email him at Disclosure.

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