Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Mode-Gakuen Spiral Towers: a New Twist on School Design

mode gakuen spiral towers, nikken sekkei, sustainable architecture, green building, natural ventilation skyscraper, nagoya japan skyscraper, green high-rise

Scholastic architecture doesn’t get much better than these stunning Mode-Gakuen Spiral Towers in Nagoya, Japan. The shimmering towers corkscrew 36 stories [170 m] above the busy streets of Nagoya, Japan, and house educational facilities for three different disciplines in three tapered ‘wings’ - fashion design, computer programming and a medical support. Architectural group Nikken Sekkei included a host of ecological features in the towers including a double-glassed air flow window system and a natural air ventilation system.

mode gakuen spiral towers, nikken sekkei, sustainable architecture, green building, natural ventilation skyscraper, nagoya japan skyscraper, green high-rise

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Building green can be a challenge in major metropolitan areas due to significant political, social and practical hurdles; the double-glassed ventilation system in the Spiral Towers is certainly a step in the right direction. Though certainly not new, a typical double-glassed air flow system significantly reduces heating and cooling loads by passing indoor/outdoor air (exhaust air/return air) between two panes of glass. The cavity between the panes typically includes blinds which can be shut according to heating/cooling requirements. It’s a system that has been hugely successful at significantly reducing heating and cooling loads in large buildings and one that continues to spread across the globe.

But how does it stay up? The Spiral Towers appear quite precarious from the street, but their basic structure is simple; a strong inner truss tube acts as a central pillar supporting the three, gently tapering wings. The truss tube is constructed of concrete-filled, steel tubular columns with structural braces affixed around the base and the entire structure is fitted with some of the most robust seismic engineering in the region.

The Spiral Towers are stunning, and the concept behind the design adds yet another layer of beauty. The twisting glass and steel spiral is meant to evoke, “the enthusiasm of students from three schools, twining and rising up to the sky then departing to the real world.” Students from the three schools: Nagoya Mode Gakuen , HAL Nagoya and Nagoya Isen —are sure to benefit from the both the gorgeous design and the green measures that have gone into this great new building.

+ Nikken Sekkei

Via World Architecture News

Photos by Robin White and Tsutomu Hamada

mode gakuen spiral towers, nikken sekkei, sustainable architecture, green building, natural ventilation skyscraper, nagoya japan skyscraper, green high-rise

mode gakuen spiral towers, nikken sekkei, sustainable architecture, green building, natural ventilation skyscraper, nagoya japan skyscraper, green high-rise

mode gakuen spiral towers, nikken sekkei, sustainable architecture, green building, natural ventilation skyscraper, nagoya japan skyscraper, green high-rise

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Ask the Experts: Why are octuplet births so rare in humans?

By Brendan Borrell

A litter of one: Evolutionary Biologist Robert Sikes explains why humans are not designed to have a gaggle of newborns.

Late last month, a team of 46 doctors and nurses in the Los Angeles suburb Bellflower pulled eight babies from the belly of a 33-year-old woman. The octuplets—the second known set to have been born in the U.S.—were nine weeks premature and were delivered in just five minutes via caesarean section.

The feat shifted from a source of biological wonderment to opprobrium as it was revealed that the mother, Nadya Suleman, an unemployed, graduate student who lives with her parents, already had six other children, ages two to seven. Many people expressed outrage that taxpayers had been footing the bill for her other children (through Social Security disability payments and food stamps) when the Associated Press estimated her medical costs could be $1.3 million in addition to the $2.7 million estimated to raise all 14 children to the age of 17. Police are even investigating death threats against her, and the once-celebrated mom of many has reportedly gone into hiding.

Although humans typically give birth to a single child per pregnancy, twins, triplets and larger "litters" have become more common with the rise of in vitro fertilization, the technique Suleman undertook whereby eggs are fertilized by sperm in a laboratory and later implanted into the uterus. Because of the cost of each implantation and the likelihood that one or more embryo will not survive, doctors typically implant three fertilized eggs into a woman's womb to up the chances of a viable birth. Some believe that Suleman's fertility doctor, Michael Kamrava, implanted more than that, violating professional ethical guidelines, although not breaking any U.S. laws. Kamrava, a general practitioner who lacks board certification for obstetrics and gynecology, has one of the worst records for successful in vitro implantations in the country, according to Forbes.

Economic and ethical considerations aside, humans are not biologically equipped to handle so many offspring per birth. Suleman's babies ranged in weight from 1.5 to three pounds (0.7 to 1.4 kilograms), and low-birth weight correlates with lower intelligence and a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to BBC reports. Premature infants, common in multiple births, face a greater risk of breathing problems, brain and organ damage and, later in life, developmental problems and cerebral palsy.

Meanwhile, other mammals, like dogs and rodents, are perfectly capable of having more than 10 babies in a litter. What makes them different from primates? To find out more about the evolution of litter size, we spoke to Robert Sikes, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, who has studied the northern grasshopper mouse, an animal that has between one and six offspring at a time.

[An edited transcript of the interview follows]

How many offspring do most mammals have at a time? What about other animals?
Lots and lots of mammal species have singletons (a litter of one), and a few have large litters. The lab rat has litters of 10 or more, although part of that may have been a result of breeding in the lab. Many dogs will have litters in the mid-teens.

If you look at animals like salmon, they are going to produce hundreds of thousands of eggs. Many invertebrates are going to produce lots of eggs, as well.

How has variation in litter size evolved?
Organisms that have large litters or a large number of offspring tend to live in an unstable, boom-or-bust environment. They produce many offspring, and many don't make it. If you look at salmon, that's a great example: maybe a couple of eggs are going to survive. If the population is constant over time, each individual is replacing itself in the next generation. Whereas a female may produce 1,000 eggs, only two survive.

On the other hand, organisms that inhabit stable environments have fewer offspring and they allocate more energy to those offspring. Mammals certainly do this. Even within mammals, species that have large litters tend to inhabit more variable environments than those that inhabit more stable environments.

Those mammals that inhabit stable environments tend to have very altricial young: they are born naked with the eyes closed and they are helpless without the mom. Precocial young are well-furred at birth, eyes open, and don't need a lot of attention from mom.

What are some examples of this?
Cotton rats are small rodents common throughout the U.S. They are kind of a "weedy" species. Their litter size is highly variable. They have lots of young when resources are plentiful and smaller litters when resources are scarce.

On the other hand, wood rats have a much smaller and very stable litter sizes, but they allocate a heck of a lot more energy to each individual offspring. Cotton rats don't nurse as long and their pups are weaned at much smaller sizes and the size at which they are weaned is quite variable. Wood rats nurse for a longer period of time and are weaned at a larger size.

Humans are altricial and fit in pretty far toward the 'stable environment' side of the spectrum. We usually have a single offspring. That offspring is helpless at birth. It requires a long period of complete maternal dependence.

The evolutionary lineage we came from—the great apes—are similar in that respect.

So we are not built to have octuplets?
Humans are ill equipped to handle large litters. Evolution has simply not set us up to do that well.

Typically, litter size in nature is matched by the number of mammary glands we have. We have two. How do you nurse the additional offspring?

If you look at the energetic cost of offspring, as the litter size increases, the cost of nursing those young increases dramatically. In the grasshopper mice I work with, a mother rearing a litter of one is going to increase her food intake by 50 percent. A mouse mother rearing the maximum number of offspring, six, is going to triple her food intake. It takes a lot of energy to produce this milk. Do the mice compensate? Yes, but they cannot completely meet those needs. The mouse mother is eating three times as much and eating so much, she can't process any more food. These mice are at the upper end of their digestive efficiency during lactation, and the intestine lengthens to help extract as many nutrients as they can. Young from a litter of two are generally larger than animals from a litter of three and those are typically larger than a litter of six; the larger the young, the better the chance of survival. If the mother mouse is nursing that much longer, then she has to be foraging longer, and when mothers are out foraging they are subject to predation.

What happens in humans? If we were subject to natural selection, octuplets would be a tough load to bear. Obviously, with our technological abilities, we can step outside of those physical constraints. Human mothers rearing two, four, six and eight offspring are almost certainly not just nursing enough to meet the energetic demands of those young. [They will likely be using infant formula.]

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Scientists warn of first ever case of human mad cow disease from blood plasma

By Patrick Hennessy and Laura Donnelly

Cows - Scientists warn of first ever case of human mad cow disease from blood plasma
Scientists fear there could be a second wave of the human variant of mad cow disease, which was caused by cattle being fed the remains of other cattle in the 1980s Photo: EPA

The man was one of thousands of haemophiliacs who received blood plasma transfusions in the years before strict controls were brought in to eliminate the spread of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).

Until now, scientists had maintained that the 4,000 people who may have received plasma from infected donors were at very low risk of developing the fatal brain disease. Warnings were issued to them as a "highly precautionary measure".

But the Health Protection Agency is expected to announce on Tuesday that an elderly man, who died from other causes, contracted vCJD from plasma.

Although vCJD has been transmitted by blood donations in the past, leading to three deaths, no cases of infection had ever been linked to plasma, which is used to clot blood. Scientists had believed the processing and dilution of the product before it is injected into patients significantly reduced the risks.

BSE expert Professor Hugh Pennington, Emeritus Professor of Bacteriology at Aberdeen University said the findings would have "significant implications" for thousands of people who had been given plasma before the dangers were suspected.

"This looks like pretty grim news for a group of people who have been through fire and water for so long; they have already had increased exposure to hepatitis B and HIV," he said.

Warnings were sent to 4,000 haemophiliacs, and patients suffering from other rare blood conditions in 2004 to warn them that they had had received transfusions from 200 batches of blood products at risk of contamination with vCJD. The plasma was collected from nine people who went on to develop the brain-wasting disease.

All 4,000 were advised not to give blood or donate organs and to warn doctors and dentists that they had been put at risk by the use of plasma.

To date, 164 people have died from vCJD in Britain, with most cases linked to eating meat infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

Prof Pennington said details of the way the new link had been detected would be crucial in determining further investigations.

"There is a lot more we still need to know. The fact that this person is elderly, when most of the deaths from vCJD have been young people, and that they died from another cause, is another area for research," he said, suggesting that it might mean that the disease progressed more slowly in some people.

He said restrictions over blood donation, which mean anyone who has had a transfusion cannot donate, and that all plasma is now taken from stocks in the United States, meant the risks to those receiving blood or plasma now were "vanishingly low".

The brain-wasting disease vCJD was first detected in the mid 1990s. Most vCJD patients have been infected after eating BSE contaminated meat. The number of deaths peaked in 2000, when there were 28 deaths. That number has dropped to about five cases a year since 2005.

The epidemic of BSE in the 1980s and 1990s was caused by cattle being fed the remains of other cattle in the form of meat and bone meal, causing an infectious agent to spread.

More than 4 million cattle were slaughtered after almost 200,000 were infected with the fatal neurodegenerative disease.

Scientists recently warned that Britain could see a second wave of the vCJD, affecting as many as 300 people, after discovering that genetic differences can affect how long it takes a person to incubate the disease.

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Thousands of unconscious eye movements stop us from going blind

Eyeball: Thousands of unconscious eye movements stop us from going blind
Eyeball: Evidence suggested that flickering movements were necessary for normal vision Photo: GETTY

The imperceptible jumps and jiggles known as "microsaccades" mean that a really steady stare is impossible.

Even when trying to fix a gaze on a stationary target, the eyes are always moving.

Experts have long dismissed these movements as the accidental result of spurious nerve signals. But new research shows they are actively controlled by the same brain region used to scan newspaper columns or track a moving object.

Scientists now think these "microsaccades" provide a vital function by "refreshing" images on the retina which would otherwise fade away.

Dr Richard Krauzlis, from the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, focused on the "command centre" in the brain responsible for eye-tracking.

He found that the brain region played an integral part in the mechanism that controlled the movements.

The evidence suggested that the flickering movements were necessary for normal vision, said the researchers, whose findings are reported in the journal Science.

Co-author Dr Ziad Hafed, also from the Salk Institute, said: "Because images on the retina fade from view if they are perfectly stabilised, the active generation of fixational eye movements by the central nervous system allows these movements to constantly shift the scene ever so slightly, thus refreshing the images on our retina and preventing us from going 'blind'."

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Cancer Miracles

Robert Langreth

A cancer patient, given just months to live, stages a miraculous recovery. Doctors dismiss it as a fluke. Yet the mystery may offer crucial clues to fighting cancer.


Charles Burrows was given two months to live in 2005. Then, with no treatment, his liver tumor vanished. 'I won a lottery,' he says.

Charles Burrows noticed a strange lump on his stomach in the summer of 2005. By November the pain was so bad it felt like a knife was stabbing him in the stomach. A ct scan and a biopsy confirmed Burrows' worst fears: He had inoperable liver cancer.

Few cancers have a worse prognosis. His tumor, the size of a baseball, was already starting to strangle the portal vein going into the liver. Doctors at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System told Burrows, then 56 years old, there was nothing they could do. "They said, 'Get your affairs in order because you have 30 days to live, maybe 60,'" recalls Burrows, who is divorced with three grown kids.

Burrows quit his carpentry job and spent the next two months in a fog. Then things got very strange. In February 2006 Burrows developed abdominal bloating, shaking, chills and nausea. Soon after that he noticed that the lump on his stomach was gone. By then his daughter had found a doctor in private practice willing to consider treating him. But the doctor couldn't find a tumor. He went back to the VA, where gastroenterologist Nooman Gilani was flabbergasted when computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging scans showed no sign of cancer. Where the tumor had once been, there was "literally empty space," Gilani says.

Burrows remains free of cancer three years later and still seems dazed by the turn of events. "I won a lottery, and I don't understand why," he says. "I would like someone to explain to me what the heck happened."

Ole Nielsen Schou also looked like a goner. In 2002 the Danish pharmaceutical production manager (now 69 and retired) found out that his melanoma had spread to his liver, abdomen, lungs, bones and ten spots in his brain. The abdominal tumor was surgically removed, but doctors at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen had no treatment for his other tumors. He took a strange cocktail of 17 vitamins and supplements, including shark cartilage pills, and imagined the metastases were rats and he was chasing them with a club. In Depth: 6 Miracle Cancer Survivors.

Four months later he went back for a new scan and found that 90% of his tumors had melted away. Soon they were gone. Co-workers hugged and kissed him when they heard the news. Plastic surgeon Vennegaard Kalialis, who detailed his case last year in Melanoma Research, doubts it was the vitamins. "It is a complete mystery," she says. "Nobody has seen anything like this."

Spontaneous tumor regressions are among the rarest and most mysterious events in medicine, with only several hundred cases in the literature that can be considered well documented. Regressions have most often been reported in melanoma and in kidney cancer. But the phenomenon may, in fact, be an everyday one, taking place beyond doctors' eyes. A recent study suggests that as many as 1 in 3 breast tumors may vanish on their own before being detected by a doctor.

Why do some patients get lucky? Scientists are finding tantalizing evidence that the immune system, the body's defense against disease-causing microbes, kicks in to play a critical role in combating cancer. If that's the case, then Schou and Burrows are more than just lucky patients. They are clues to how doctors may someday save thousands of lives.

The evidence includes the fact that some unexplained remissions have occurred after infections, which may propel the immune system into high gear--possibly attacking the cancer tumor as well as the infection. Burrows' remission seemed to begin after his strange illness. Schou's abdominal tumor when removed was swarming with white blood cells, the lead weapon in the body's immune system. It's also possible that ordinary cancer survivors, people who beat the disease after getting radiation, chemotherapy or surgery, get an assist from their own immune systems.

Big drug companies, including Pfizer (nyse: PFE - news - people ), Bristol-Myers Squibb (nyse: BMY - news - people ) and Sanofi-Aventis (nyse: SNY - news - people ), are doggedly pursuing drugs that aim to boost the immune system to fight cancer. GlaxoSmithkline is in final-stage tests of a vaccine to prevent lung cancer from coming back after surgery. In an early trial it slashed the probability of cancer recurrence by 27%. "It is all about educating the patients' natural defenses against cancer," says GlaxoSmithkline's Vincent Brichard. Easier said than done, of course. Some patients, apparently, need only a small trigger to propel a massive anticancer attack. With nearly all others, however, the cancer cells fight back successfully and even co-opt immune cells to aid their growth. Why some patients respond better than others to certain drugs is a focus of furious scrutiny.

The role of the immune system in controlling cancer has been hotly debated for decades--and indeed many scientists remain unconvinced. But Jedd D. Wolchok, an oncologist at New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, thinks there is a connection. A spontaneous remission, he says, is "either divine intervention or the immune system." While few researchers directly study such cases--they are far too rare--they provide hints of what the immune system might be able to do if we could harness it.

The immune system work is part of a new twist on the war on cancer. For decades cancer researchers have focused mostly on killing cancer cells with drugs and radiation, or removing them with surgery. But this is often impossible to accomplish. So scientists are studying the environment around tumors in order to invent drugs that will halt their spread. Such drugs, like Genentech (nyse: DNA - news - people )'s Avastin, would be the medical equivalent of cutting terrorist-cell supply lines or putting up security checkpoints to stop them from getting into vital areas.

One of the first scientists to try to trigger the immune system to attack cancer was the New York surgeon William Coley. He was inspired by a patient with sarcoma who recovered after suffering an acute bacterial infection. In the 1890s Coley started vaccinating other patients with killed bacteria. He claimed that his toxins spurred the immune system to destroy tumors in a minority of cases.

In the 1980s the natural immune protein interleukin-2 was touted as a breakthrough. But it turned out to help only a small minority of cancer patients and to sport an array of nasty side effects. Over the years numerous trials of anticancer vaccines designed to train the immune system to recognize cancer have shown mostly lackluster results. None of these new therapeutic vaccines is approved in the U.S.

But intriguing data suggest that the immune system can combat cancer sometimes. "To the body, a tumor looks like the biggest bacteria it has ever seen," says Robert Schreiber, an immunologist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He has found that mice lacking key components of their immune system are far more likely to develop cancers. In one experiment 60% of mice missing something called the gamma interferon receptor on their cells got tumors after being exposed to a carcinogen, versus only 15% of normal mice.

Schreiber theorizes that many early cancers arising in the body are killed off by the immune system. Over time, however, some develop mutations that allow them to thwart the immune system, and a long stalemate ensues. Eventually some tumors escape the control of the immune system entirely.

Moreover, a 2006 study by the University of Paris Descartes' Wolf H. Fridman found that the number of certain kinds of white blood cells inside colon tumors is a stronger predictor of a relapse than criteria pathologists traditionally use, such as whether cancer cells have spread to the lymph nodes. He analyzed tumor samples from 415 people who had been operated on for early-stage colon cancer over the last two decades. Those with the highest number of these cells in their tumor rarely relapsed; those with few immune cells almost always did.

No broad-based anticancer antidotes have emerged from the immune system work yet. In trials to date, immune-boosting drugs have generally helped only a minority of patients, particularly those with melanoma. But when they do work, it can be spectacular.

By the odds, 27-year-old Sharon Belvin should no longer be alive. The North Carolina resident found out that she had melanoma in her lung a week before her wedding when she was only 22. That sort of tumor usually sprouts like a weed once it has migrated beyond the skin to internal organs, and it resists most chemotherapy. By the time she turned 24 the few standard treatments had failed, and she had tumors in both lungs.

But then Memorial's Wolchok put her on an experimental drug called ipilimumab that aims to trigger the immune system. Within four months her lung tumors started to shrivel. By late 2006 they were gone. Today Belvin remains free of cancer and off treatment. She spends her time caring for her husband and 1-year-old daughter, whom she calls "a miracle baby, after all we have been through." Her case is so unusual that during a recent appointment the radiologist called Wolchok in disbelief. "He said, 'What did you do for this patient? Am I reading the diagnosis correctly?'"

Seven years ago Los Angeles high school social studies teacher Joseph Rick spotted a purple pimple on the small of his back. Too late: The melanoma soon spread into his colon. Nine surgeries and 40 chemo rounds over two years failed to stop it. By fall 2004 dozens of tumors riddled his body. Doctors gave Rick, then 43, four months to live. Rick bought a grave site for himself and went home to his L.A. condo to die. By December his weight had plummeted to 90 pounds from 240. He could barely walk.

Then he heard about a new immune-system-boosting drug being tested at UCLA, similar to the one Belvin received. A week after his first infusion visible brown tumors on his neck and thigh began to fade and his appetite returned. By March his tumors had shrunk 25%, and by early 2006 they were gone. When he could go back to work, he broke into tears watching the sunrise. Says Rick: "I would have been dead [years ago] without this drug."

Belvin's drug, from Bristol-Myers Squibb and Medarex (nasdaq: MEDX - news - people ), shrank tumors in about 10% of melanoma patients in a 2007 trial--not enough to get approval without more study. A larger trial that could lead to approval will wrap up late this year. Rick's drug is being tested by Pfizer. In a recent final-stage trial it failed to beat chemotherapy, and Pfizer sent it back a grade; the drug will start over at an earlier stage of trials. Both drugs turn off a natural brake on immune system activity called CTLA4 (cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4). They are part of a new breed of drugs that hit specific molecular components of the immune system.

Other treatments that aim to amplify the immune system report similar patterns--scattered amazing success stories combined with a failure on the broad stage. Last summer Cassian Yee at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center reported eradicating tumors in a 52-year-old man with advanced melanoma by plucking out the rare white cells from his blood that seemed to be active against cancer, painstakingly growing them in the lab and then injecting billions of them back into him. The man is free of cancer three years later. On eight other patients the procedure helped temporarily or not at all. "It's the hallmark of immune therapy--it doesn't happen often, but once it happens, those patients live years," says UCLA oncologist Antoni Ribas.

One famous researcher, the National Cancer Institute's Steven Rosenberg, says his immune cell therapy, roughly similar to Yee's, helps 72% of melanoma patients when given after chemo and radiation. Rosenberg, whose work was inspired by a patient whose stomach cancer vanished on its own, is now expanding the method to colon and breast cancer. But his procedure is far too complex for most hospitals to do.

What is special about the miracle survivors? Why do a minority of outliers live years longer than most? Is it something in their blood? Their genes? Are their tumors weaker than some? Or do they have unusually strong immune systems that just need a slight nudge?

The immune system is "phenomenally complicated," says oncologist Jeffrey Weber of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. "Nobody knows how to pick out the patients that will respond." Complicating matters further: Some people get mysteriously delayed responses to immune-boosting drugs, as if a trigger has finally gone off. In the past some responses may have been missed because therapy was stopped too soon, says Bristol-Myers Squibb Vice President Renzo Canetta.

Some patients' tumors have mutations that make them particularly sensitive to one drug or another. Another reason that drugs get spotty results may be that some tumors are simply more visible to the immune system than others. Some 30% to 40% of melanoma tumors contain a rare protein called NY-ESO-1 that looks particularly suspicious to the immune system. Wolchok at Memorial has analyzed blood from eight patients for whom Bristol-Myers' CTLA4 drug worked; in five of them it appeared to rouse or amplify an immune response against this particular protein.

Another reason for perplexing results is that there are numerous molecular brakes inside the body that keep the immune system from rampaging out of control; cancer cells evade the immune system by manipulating these brakes. The drugs that Belvin and Rick took release one of those brakes (CTLA4), thereby allowing the fury of the immune system to be unleashed on the tumor. But tumors can quell the immune system by activating other brakes. Patients who don't respond to the CTLA4 drugs may have other brakes that are still engaged. Researchers may have to do many small trials of various combinations of immune-boosting drugs until they find which combos work best on which patients, says Dana Farber Cancer Institute's Glenn Dranoff.

Even as some researchers puzzle over the mystery of rare responders, others are finding that the immune system may play a crucial role in how patients react to bestselling antibody drugs. These drugs--such as Herceptin for breast cancer (Genentech) and Erbitux for colon cancer (Eli Lilly (nyse: LLY - news - people ))--were designed to bind to signaling molecules on tumors and disrupt cell growth signals. But it turns out that they perform a second role, which drug companies have paid scant attention to until recently: flagging the immune system to kill cancer.

Rockefeller University researcher Jeffrey Ravetch has shown that antibody drugs like Herceptin no longer work well in lab mice when the portion of the antibody that flags the immune system is damaged--even through they still bind perfectly well to the tumor. Genetic differences in people's immune systems may also explain why some people respond much better to antibody drugs than others. Last year an Italian study of 54 breast cancer patients found that patients whose white blood cells had certain gene variants were far more likely to respond to Herceptin than those who had different variants. Similar results have been found with some other antibody drugs.

Biotech company researchers are now trying to devise second-generation antibodies that send stronger signals to the immune system, in hopes that far more cancer patients will benefit. "We are very intrigued by this," says Genentech biochemist Mark Sliwkowski, who cautions that the precise role of the immune system in the response to antibody drugs is unclear.

If the new thrust in immune system research goes somewhere, it could mean there will be more survivors like Barbara Bradfield of Puyallup, Wash. In 1992 her breast cancer came roaring back only two years after she'd had a double mastectomy. She had a marshmallow-size tumor on her neck and 16 spots in her lungs. She refused more heavy-duty chemotherapy and faced the fact she was going to die. Then she found out she qualified for a trial of a drug called Herceptin, which targets 25% of patients whose breast tumors have a certain mutation. She was one of the first patients to take it. Typically, it extends life by five months. But within six months of when she started Herceptin in 1992, Bradfield's tumors had all melted away. They have never come back, and now, at age 66, she is considered cured.

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Exercise 'cuts colon cancer risk'

Bowel cancer scans
Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death

Taking exercise can cut the risk of the most common kind of bowel cancer by a quarter, research suggests.

US scientists, who reviewed 52 previous studies, calculated the most active people are 24% less likely to develop colon cancer than the least active.

Colon cancer is the most common form of bowel cancer, a disease which affects more than 36,500 people a year in the UK, causing 16,000 deaths.

The study appears in the British Journal of Cancer.

These results give us a very reliable calculation of the positive effect that exercise can have on reducing colon cancer risk
Dr Kathleen Wolin
Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis
The study took into account many different types of physical activity including occupational activity like manual labour, as well as more traditional leisure-time activity such as running or going to the gym.

Lead researcher Dr Kathleen Wolin, from the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis said: "These results give us a very reliable calculation of the positive effect that exercise can have on reducing colon cancer risk.

"It's very positive to see that exercise has such a clear benefit in reducing cancer risk and we hope it will encourage people to enjoy a healthy active lifestyle as well as treating it as a way to minimise their colon cancer risk."

Dr Wolin said she hoped it would eventually be possible to give individuals a detailed breakdown of how they could reduce their chances of cutting their risk of bowel cancer tailored to their own specific circumstances.

Sara Hiom, director of health information at Cancer Research UK, said: "One hundred people a day are diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK alone, so it's imperative that we do all we can to prevent the disease.

"We know that around half of all cancers could be prevented by changes to lifestyle.

"Maintaining a healthy bodyweight is one of the best ways to lower the risk of bowel and other cancers - potentially helping to avoid an estimated 13,000 cases each year."

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5 Reasons to Have Sex Today!

posted by Veronica Peterson

What would Valentine’s Day be without an opportunity to mention the three-letter word that gets everyone so riled up? Yes, you guessed it–I’m talking about at a little S-E-X. So, let’s chat, shall we? Beyond being just one-heck-of-good-time, medical studies report that an active sex life contributes to a longer and more fulfilling life. So come on, everybody’s doing it (or at least the lucky ones), and here are five reasons for you to join in:

1. Sex boosts your immune system. “Honey, I have a headache,” may now be the best reason to have sex! A startling number of physicians are now recognizing how sexual and emotional health affect our entire well being. In other words, how our brain directly impacts our immune system. “We know that people who enjoy a regular, satisfying sex life (i.e. regular orgasms) are less stressed, less depressed and generally more well physically, mentally and emotionally,” says Wendy Strgar, loveologist and CEO of Good Clean Love. In a recent article, Dr. Paul Pearsall, director of Behavioral Medicine at Detroit’s Beaumont Hospital, concludes that many of his patients had experienced sexual dissatisfaction prior to a heart attack. He also claims that sexual contentment leads to less severe headaches and reduced discomfort from arthritis in both genders.

2. Sex burns calories. Oh yeah, forget those fad diets and get busy gettin’ busy. A mere 30-minutes of sex burns 90 calories and while that may not sound impressive, at an average of three times a week, you’re burning 5 pounds in a year! Or, according to Forbes magazine, having sex just twice a week for a year will burn off the equivalent of seven huge spaghetti dinners. Seconds, anyone?

3. Sex relieves pain. Orgasm is one serious narcotic! Oxytocin, a naturally occurring chemical in the body surges during and after climax while working in conjunction with a few other endorphins to make sure you feel no pain. In his book, How to Treat Arthritis, rheumatologist Carter V. Multz asserts that sex can reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation associated with arthritis, headaches and menstrual cramps.

4. Sex decreases aging. “Use it or lose it” has never been more applicable. Regular sex releases a plethora of “happy” chemicals into your bloodstream, including testosterone. As we age, our testosterone levels decrease. Sex is a wonderful way to build your reserves back up, helping build new bones and muscles while putting a youthful glow on your face. According to a study by Dr. David Weeks, a clinical neuropsychologist at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital in Scotland and co-author of Superyoung, men and women who reported having sex an average of four times per week looked approximately 10 years younger than they really were.

5. Sex is great for depression. “The release from orgasm does much to calm people. It helps with sleep, and that is whether we talk about solo sex or sex with a partner,” says Jennifer Bass, the head of information services at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction in Bloomington, Ind., in a recent MSNBC article. Researchers believe that sex helps the brain produce serotonin which, in turn, prompts new neurons to grow. Most chemical, antidepressant medications, like Zoloft, work to increase serotonin levels. These drugs take three to four weeks to begin working–about the same amount of time required for new neurons to form. One reason these drugs could be an effective treatment is because they increase cell growth–just as sex does.


In honor of St. Valentine, Wendy at Good Clean Love has donated three sets of, ahem, “fun products” for you to use with the one you love. Her Passionate Nights Gift Sets come beautifully wrapped and include a mood-setting candle, all-natural personal lubricant and massage oil. A $45 value! With her help you should be able to turn any night in to a passionate night. Just enter a comment below and we’ll pick three winners randomly. The winners will be announced Friday, Feb. 20. GOOD LUCK!

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Foods That Boost Your Libido: 9 Sexy Aphrodisiacs

Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and you’re wondering how to show her you care. Before you pick up the phone to make a dinner reservation, consider last year’s Valentine’s Day dinner: crowded restaurant, crappy service, mediocre food. This year, why not stay in and cook up a hot and steamy meal on your own? We’ve combed through the latest scientific studies to come up with a list of foods guaranteed to boost your libido. These food aphrodisiacs are easy to find -- and some you don’t even have to cook. So what are you waiting for? Check out our list, head to the store, and get ready for your steamiest Valentine’s Day yet.

Image courtesy of Creative Commons user F10N4


We know, chocolate on Valentine's Day isn't exactly a ground-breaking idea. But getting the good stuff -- the darkest, richest chocolate you can find -- is important. Why? Real cocoa releases a stimulant that boosts the same neurotransmitters in your brain that make you feel euphoric during sex. (The cheap stuff just fills you up with fat and artificial coloring.) In fact, a recent study conducted by the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that women who ate chocolate on a regular basis got it on more often -- and enjoyed it more when they did -- than non-chocolate lovers. Another bonus: the combination of sugar and caffeine will give you a quick energy boost between the sheets.

See Depths of Sin Hot Chocolate recipe

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There's a reason these mollusks have a steamy reputation. For one thing, oysters are packed with zinc, which promotes healthy sperm and testosterone production. But that's not even the best part. In 2005, scientist released evidence that oysters contain rare -- and effective -- amino acids that amp up the release of sex hormones in both men and women. Legendary lover Casanova is said to have consumed 50 oysters every morning for breakfast. What more proof do you need?

See Oysters on the Half Shell with Mignonette Sauce recipe

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Rare, expensive, decadent…truffles are like diamonds to foodies. (And, OK, they're not so easy to find, but they're worth it if you can find them.) Some food experts also claim that the earthy gems are aphrodisiacs because truffles have a musky aroma that resembles the scent men release when they’re sexually aroused. Madame de Pompadore, an influential member of the French court and believer of that theory, converted to a truffle, vanilla, and celery diet with the sole purpose of igniting her love life. You, however, need not go quite that far. Try adding truffle oil, which is easier to find than actual truffles, to your meal for a bit of sensual flair.

See Risotto with Chives and Truffle Oil recipe

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Thanks to a remarkable likeness to, well, you know, figs have long been linked to fertility and sex. The temptress Cleopatra declared figs her favorite fruit, and Greeks celebrated the arrival of the fig crop with ritual copulation. Historically, both Roman and Japanese brides indulged in figs as part of their nuptial celebration. Whether it's all that history, or perhaps their high content of magnesium (an essential nutrient for getting your juices flowing), the erotic status of figs hasn't faded yet. Take it upon yourself to see if they live up to their reputation.

See Figs with Port Glaze recipe

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It may sounds like a bit of a stretch. After all, how could the veggie you hated as a kid be sexy? But, in fact, early Middle Eastern monarchs were such big believers in the seductive power of carrots that they had them served routinely at royal feasts. On a more scientific note, carrots provide a jumbo dose of beta-carotene that increases sex hormones (like progesterone) and amps up sperm count. Maybe that explains the whole rabbit analogy…

See Orange Glazed Carrots recipe

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Packed with a powerful cocktail of nutrients associated with boosting sexual power this fruit could be your key to a memorable night. A generous dose of potassium revs up your muscles, while vitamin B-6 aids in the release of sex hormones. Not a fan of hangovers? Swap out your favorite liquid courage for a banana -- the fruit is also said to reduce sexual inhibitions and increase self confidence. For bonus points, serve the fruit dripping with chocolate.

See Rum-Laced Chocolate Fondue recipe

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Honey's popularity as an aphrodisiac comes from the libido-boosting power of the ancient honey-laced alcohol called mead. Providing a quick rush of natural sugar, honey is also rich in B vitamins which aid in the function of the neurotransmitters responsible for sexual arousal. The term "honeymoon" even derived from the legendary sexual power of this sensual sweetener. Incorporate honey into your dessert for an easy transition into the bedroom.

See Lavender-Honey Cakes recipe

pine nuts

Pine Nuts
A key ingredient in ancient love potions, the pine nut contains the magic sex-nutrient, Zinc. One Arabian scholar recommended eating 100 pine nuts before going to bed. Not that ambitious? Try this easy appetizer recipe, or toss a handful on a salad, and see what happens.

See White Bean and Pine Nut Dip recipe

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Perhaps the most cliché of all aphrodisiacs, strawberries are known as the favorite fruit of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. The high vitamin C content of these heart-shaped fruits is known to help rev things up. Women love them, and they go great with two other proven aphrodisiacs: bubbly and chocolate. It's a win-win situation.

Posted by MixingBowlEditors MixingBowlEditors

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A Tribute to Fallen Sodas

By Zach

ecto-cooler-slimer-hi-cA few months back I posted a Top Ten Ghost list in honor of Halloween. Contained in the article was a mention of Slimer, the floating green blob from the Ghostbusters movies. I’m sure it is no surprise for Slimer to appear in such a list. What was a bit of a surprise, at least for me, was how many people clicked on the link for Ecto Cooler in the post. If you’re not familiar, Ecto Cooler was the Hi-C tangerine and orange flavored drink featuring a picture of Slimer plastered on each box or can. Unfortunately, it’s long since ceased production, or at least ceased to exist under the Ecto Cooler brand. But the reminiscing of all drinks got me thinking, why not profile some of the hits, or more accurately misses, of the drink world? Good or bad, sometimes remembering such things can be fun. So this is a great look back on some of the sodas and soft drinks of years past:

The Pepsi Division


Crystal Pepsi (1992-1993)

I think we’d have to start any kind of discussion about dead soda with Crystal Pepsi (or Pepsi Clear as it sometimes known by). Sparked by a marketing fad that equated clarity with purity, Pepsi decided they wanted in and generated their infamous Crystal Pepsi drink. Dubbed as a caffeine-free “clear alternative” to normal colas, it was backed by a large marketing campaign, including a television advertisement featuring Van Halen’s hit song “Right Now” that premiered during Super Bowl XXVII:

Despite initial success, maybe due to the novelty of it all, sales for Crystal Pepsi quickly fell. Was America not ready for clear cola? I remember trying it, and it seemed to taste like flat Pepsi, but maybe I got a bad can? The drink certainly has its fans. Pepsi pulled it off the market, and revamped the soda several months later with a reformulated citrus drink titled “Crystal From Pepsi”. Alas, Crystal From Pepsi failed as well. No word on how Crystal Gravy fared.


Slice (1984-2000)

Slice was supposed to be Pepsi’s answer to Sprite (at least in the U.S. market where they don’t have a license for 7 Up). Although interestingly enough, Sprite was originally Coke’s response to the popularity of 7 Up. Every one’s imitating someone else, right? The Sprite brand was created in 1961 and took over the number one spot in lemon-lime drinks in 1978 thanks to Coke’s market dominance. Pepsi, as Coke’s main competitor, decided to branch out beyond cola and Slice was born.

Not that Slice was just lemon lime soda. Varieties of Slice have included Apple, Fruit Punch, Grape, Passionfruit, Peach, Mandarin Orange, Pineapple, Strawberry, Cherry Cola, “Red“, Cherry-Lime, Pink Lemonade, and Dr. Slice. But the lemon line version was the original that spawned it all. It existed until it was usurped in most markets by Sierra Mist around the summer of 2000. By 2003, Sierra Mist became a national brand, and the remaining varieties of the Slice line faded away or were replaced by 2006. One exception is Dr. Slice, which can still be found in some fountains.


Josta (1995-1999)

josta-unleash-itJosta was Pepsi’s “high-energy drink” that was predominately fruit and berry like, with a bit of spice, and a touch of the key mysterious ingredient guaraná. The reddish brown drink was introduced in 1995, but pulled from stores due to a “change in corporate strategy” in 1999. Shortly before the beverage was discontinued, an “Association for Josta Saving” was started and the Save Josta Campaign declared April 4, 2007 “National Josta Day” in hopes of resurrecting the dead soda. It hasn’t worked, although I will say the use of the panther, the fancy foreign ingredients, and the marketing slogan “Unleash it” gives me flashbacks of Sex Panther. I wonder if guaraná was actually bits of real panther?


Pepsi’s Wild Bunch (1991-1991)

Well that didn’t last long, now did it? The Pepsi Wild Bunch is actually three different sodas: Strawberry Burst Pepsi, Raging Razzberry Pepsi, and Tropical Chill Pepsi. These were basically test products that were fruit-boosted Pepsi variations. After all, Cherry Coke worked, right? That principle can apply to all fruits with colas, right? To further hurt matters, Pepsi actually sold the new flavors in a boxed three-pack and the Razzberry has been said to not really taste like raspberries. At least it was a good effort.


Pepsi Blue (2002-2004)

Undeterred by the Wild Bunch fiasco, Pepsi was determined to mix a berry-flavor with Pepsi. Granted it took them over a decade to do so, but they got it done. Sort of. Apparently Pespi Blue was the result of taste-testing over 100 flavors spanning a nine month period. It was launched in mid-2002 and designed to compete with Coca-Cola’s Vanilla Coke. Pepsi was also riding high on the success of Mountain Dew Code Red. Unfortunately, some consider Pepsi Blue to be the company’s equivalent of New Coke. Well, either it or Crystal Pepsi.

So what was the problem? It might start with the fact it really didn’t taste like Pepsi. It might have been better marketed as simply a berry drink. Anyone thinking this was going to be like Cherry Coke (i.e. flavored cola) was disappointed. In fact, Coke decided to release their own version of the drink called Fanta Berry. Also, it looked like Windex. That’s probably not a good thing. And to top it off, it was tinted using Blue 1, a highly-controversial coloring agent banned in numerous countries at the time. But Pepsi Blue lovers fear not, there is talk of resurrecting the soda in 2009.


Mr. Green (2002-2003)

SoBe is a subsidiary of Pepsi and briefly sold Mr. Green as their first and only soda. It was along the lines of Dr. Pepper, but infused with ginseng. And of course it was green, although it kinda looked like raw sewage. The name comes from the SoBe lizard, which graces bottles of most SoBe products. The marketing force behind Mr. Green was the in-your-face-Xtreme type of advertising that has been used so often during that time (more on this later). And like most SoBe products, there was message under the cap (if you got a bottle) along the lines of: Get a Job, Exercise your Brain, or Brush Your Teeth.


Pepsi Fire & Pepsi Ice

Alright, this one may be cheating a little bit. Yes, these flavors did exist, but you could fill pages upon pages full with weird variants of any soda. Particularly Coke and Pepsi, which have had numerous flavor variations, many of which were only available overseas or for limited times. For example, did you know there was a Pepsi Ice Cucumber? Other odd examples include Pepsi Twist Mojito, Pepsi White (with yogurt flavoring), Pepsi Holiday Spice, and Pepsi Carnival. So why single out these two?

I guess I’m amused with the idea of Pepsi flavors available in the same flavors I can buy mouthwash in. And they taste pretty much the same way. Fire was a cinnamon like drink, ice has that minty flavor. Or maybe I’m fascinated by the simple question, what happens when you combine Pepsi Fire and Pepsi Ice together? Is that like Pop Rocks and Coke? Some things just shouldn’t be put together.

The Coca-Cola Division


Coke II (1985-1992)

Let me set the scene for you. Once upon a time, Coca-Cola basically had a monopoly on the soda market. Not that there weren’t alternatives, but Coke destroyed them in market share. Along comes Pepsi, which slowly begins to eat away at Coke’s dominance. As time passes Pepsi gets bigger and bigger, and by the early 1980s Pepsi had begun to outsell Coke in supermarkets, with Coke managing to maintain its overall edge through fountain sales. Coke executives got worried and believed people wanted a sweeter Pepsi-like soda. Hence “New Coke” is created. This was not a good decision.

Although the product tested well and was liked by more people than history may remember, a number of consumers did not like the New Coke and these people were very vocal. There was a backlash to the new drink and Coca-Cola Classic was revived. Even Fidel Castro, a long time Coke drinker, contributed to the backlash, calling New Coke a sign of American capitalist decadence. I guess we can say that Max Headroom was not able to get consumers to “Catch the Wave”.

Coca-Cola executives announced the return of the original formula on July 10, less than three months after New Coke’s introduction. On the floor of the U.S. Senate, David Pryor called the reintroduction “a meaningful moment in U.S. history.” The new product continued to be sold and retained the name Coca-Cola until 1992, when it was officially renamed Coca-Cola II. The older product was brought back as Coca-Cola Classic and eventually just Coke.


Surge (1996-2003)

mello-yellow-cole-trickleIt was the mid 1990s and Mountain Dew was very popular. Problem was, Coca-Cola didn’t have an equivalent to compete with the Pepsi product. Well, that’s not entirely true. Coke had Mello Yello. You might remember it from the movie Days of Thunder, in which Tom Cruise’s character, Cole Trickle, drove a Mello Yello-sponsored car to victory in the Daytona 500. As a kid I always loved Mello Yello, it was just that you couldn’t really find it anywhere. At least not where I was. That would change when the family would go on vacation. There was always a chance the soda would appear in the hotel vending machines, sort of a soft drink lottery. I often looked forward to the prospect of Mello Yello more than the vacation. Turns out Mello Yello is popular in certain areas of the South, I even saw a Mello Yello Slurpee in Mississippi. It just doesn’t have nationwide appeal apparently.

Enter Surge, a citrus soft drink introduced to compete with Pepsi’s Mountain Dew. Except it was green, not yellow. It actually first debuted in Norway under the moniker Urge. Not sure on reason behind the name change, but it hit the U.S. backed by a heavy marketing campaign that focused on “extreme” stuff and people yelling “Surge!”. Here’s an example:

and another…

And then there’s this parody:

But like all the beverages on this rundown, it has since ceased production. Coca-Cola now makes Vault, a similar soda that veers a little more towards energy drinks like Red Bull than pure soda. If you’re feeling nostalgic, you can visit, or listen to this song, or go to Norway where Urge apparently is still around and kicking.


OK (1993-1995)

OK Soda was a soft drink created by Coca-Cola that aggressively courted the Generation X demographic with unusual advertising tactics, including endorsements and even outright negative publicity. There is an OK manifesto, and on each can one of the ten statements from the manifesto was printed around it. Also, the design of the can would be in the style of underground comics. Despite all the “coolness”, the soda did not sell well in select test markets and was officially declared out of production by 1995. The drink’s slogan was “Things are going to be OK,” and you could even call their toll free 1-800-I-FEEL-OK hotline. As an added bonus, here’s the whole Manifesto for you:

OK Soda Manifesto

1. What’s the point ok OK? Well, what’s the point of anything?

2. OK Soda emphatically rejects anything that is not OK, and fully supports anything that is.

3. The better you understand something, the more OK it turns out to be.

4. OK Soda says, “Don’t be fooled into thinking there has to be a reason for everything.”

5. OK Soda reveals the surprising truth about people and situations.

6. OK Soda does not subscribe to any religion, or endorse any political party, or do anything other than feel OK.

7. There is no real secret to feeling OK.

8. OK Soda may be the preferred drink of other people such as yourself.

9. Never underestimate the remarkable abilities of “OK” brand soda.

10. Please wake up every morning knowing that things are going to be OK.


Citra (1996-2004)

Citra was a grapefruit-flavored soft drink released into by Coca-Cola Company around the same time as Surge. Think of it as akin to Squirt or Fresca, at least foreign Fresca. In the United States Fresca is a diet soda, but not elsewhere. The original marketing campaign had the theme “Curiously crisp Citra”. Although not completely dead, Citra was rebranded as Fanta Citrus in 2004. Although finding Fanta Citrus is another endeavor on its own.


Sprite Remix (2003-2005)

We mentioned of few Pepsi’s ill-fated attempts at flavor variants, so it’s only fair to mention at least one of Coca-Cola’s. Although ill-fated wouldn’t be the right word to describe the Sprite Remix sodas. They had their fans, particularly the Aruba Jam (Cherry) flavor. You’ll also notice Tropical and Berryclear varieties. Granted we could have highlighted Sprite Ice or Sprite on Fire, but we already did those variations with Pepsi and the Remix flavors actually got themselves a following in the U.S. Not only did they work as a soda, they apparently work well in mixed drinks too.


Mr. Pibb (1972-2001)

private-air-force-for-mr-pibbMr. Pibb, or Mr. PiBB as it’s often spelled, isn’t exactly gone, it was replaced by Pibb Xtra in 2001 with a slightly tweaked formula. That hasn’t stopped the Internet petitions or an entire episode of American Dad constructed around the soda’s disappearance. When Pibb Xtra came out, bottlers were allowed to use up their remaining stocks of real-deal Mr. Pibb. By 2003, all Mr. Pibb was gone and replaced with Xtra. Anything sold as “Pibb” to this day is “Pibb Xtra”. That’s how Mr. Pibb quietly ended, but let’s go back to the beginning. In 1972 Coke came up with the promotional campaign dubbed, “Private Air Force for Mr. PiBB” which came complete with free swag. I guess Coke was trying to “rally the troops” behind it’s new creation, their answer to Dr. Pepper.

mr-pibb-sloganOf course the later ad slogan became “Put it in your Head”. You decided which one is better. Maybe it doesn’t really matter, as I’ll refer to the late Mitch Hedberg. He once said, “Mr. Pibb is a replica of Dr. Pepper but it’s a BS replica because the dude didn’t even get his degree. Why’d you drop out of school and start making pop so soon?” Although I will offer a counter argument to Mr. Hedberg, which is: Mr. Pibb + Red Vines = Crazy Delicious.

The Wild Card Division


Hubba Bubba

What? They made a soda based on bubble gum? Yes, Sir! Hubba Bubba Bubble Gum Soda and the diet version were pink soft drinks manufactured thanks to The Wrigley Company, maker of Hubba Bubba bubble gum. The drink was actually the brainchild of Steve Roeder, who came up with the bubble gum soda concept by using snow cone flavoring with soda water. Legend has it that he approached Bazooka gum first, before getting the go ahead from Wrigley. If you’re interested in bringing this bad boy back, you can sign the online petition. Or if you’re jonesing for bubble gum soda now, you can try and hunt down Bubble Yum soda.



Rondo was a citrus-flavored soft drink available in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Marketing dubbed it a soda which was “blended from fine essences” and also “lightly carbonated”. The best part about the soda, its slogan: Rondo, The Thirst Crusher. Its commercials featured people crushing the cans in various ways, something like this:

If that’s not enough, there’s a parody of the drink in the movie Idiocracy. Instead of Rondo, it is Brawndo: The Thirst Mutilator. That in turn lead to a real Brawndo energy drink and ad campaigns like this:


Red Fusion (2002-2004)

Sporting an alluring red color and the use of a variety of fruit flavors, Red Fusion was a cherry variant of Dr. Pepper. It was also the first new flavor added to the Dr. Pepper family of beverages in the company’s 122-year history. Too bad it was more or less cancelled one year into its run, even if it lingered around a little longer. It tasted like a a sweeter, cherry flavored, watered down Dr. Pepper, although some compared it to Cherry NyQuil.



Not too much to say on this one. Kick was RC Cola’s attempt at a citrus soda to compete with Mountain Dew. Damn that Mountain Dew, so popular is spawned a couple of imitators. And neither was up to the challenge of taking down the Dew. This version was an even more sugary, syrupy one, with caution tape imprinted upon the can telling me how dangerously ass-kicking it was. In fact, it was the “psycho nitro drink…in a can.” The Kick name came from the (also) failed sports drink line, Quick Kick.



Orbitz is not your traditional soft drink. From the Clearly Canadian Beverage Corporation, it’s a non-carbonated fruit-flavored beverage. The fact it had no fizz in it is not its most significant feature. That would be the small edible balls floating in it. As you can see above, colored globular gelatin balls are floating in the liquid, and combined with the packaging it gives off the vibe of a Lava Lamp. And who wouldn’t want to drink a Lava Lamp? Though I will say that when I see something floating in a drink, I’m reminded of Skittle Bräu. That’s not all bad.


Orbitz was introduced around 1996 and came in six flavors: Raspberry Citrus, Blueberry Melon Strawberry, Pineapple Banana Cherry Coconut, Vanilla Orange, Black Currant Berry, and Charlie Brown Chocolate. The latter two were introduced after the initial launch. The marketing campaign went some thing like this, “Set gravity aside and prepare to embark on a tour into the bowels of the Orbiterium.” Too bad people didn’t want the Canadian drink with slimey balls in it. But it couldn’t have just been the balls, people drink Bubble Tea. Either that or Orbitz was a head of its time.

Although Orbitz may be dead, it lives on in a bastardized form.


Lifesaver Drink

Like Orbitz, this may stretch the definition of soft drink a bit. It wasn’t carbonated, but it was sure full of sugar. And who doesn’t want to drink their Halloween candy? It would be stupid not to do it! I stumbled upon these bad boys in high school, and remember them tasting like drinking an unfrozen Flavor Ice. That may not appeal to many of you, but I wanted more. Unfortunately, as quickly as I found them they disappeared from local supermarkets. Most people I talk to are not even aware they existed. But they did, I have visual proof (and in 5 flavors)!


Super Mario Soda

Nothing is better after a hard session of video gaming then throwing back a cold drink. So why not make that drink Mario related? Shasta Cola thought it was a great idea and made this soda in four different flavors, each featuring a Mario World character on the can. Choices were as follows: Mario Punch, Luigi Berry, Princess Toadstool Cherry (how did this one not become Peach?) and Yoshi Apple (speaking of which, how did Yoshi not get the Berry flavor?). Also goes great with Sonic the Hedgehog potato chips.


7-Up Gold (1988-1988)

7 Up Gold was a Dr. Pepper invention, but was unveiled under the 7 Up brand after the companies merged. It was marketed for a short time in 1988 as a spice-flavored beverage, similar in taste to Vernor’s Ginger Ale. It seemed to be quite popular with people who actually tasted the stuff. However, there was a certain amount of irony in 7 Up’s marketing slogan of “Never had it, never will”. That was pretty much how consumers viewed the product. The slogan was actually made in reference to caffeine, although that didn’t make much sense either since 7 Up Gold did list caffeine as one of its ingredients.


dnL (2002-2005)

No, that’s not just a 7-Up can that’s upside down. It’s dnL Soda, a Cadbury Schweppes beverage that was part of the 7-Up family of drinks. Basically it was the polar opposite of 7-Up as it was a caffeinated green drink in a clear bottle (as opposed to a caffeine-free colorless drink a green bottle). Although that didn’t translate as well to the can versions. dnL has a citrus-like flavor and was marketed by the slogan, “Turn your thirst upside-down.” The story is that dnL is more lime than lemon, hence the green color and hard to pin down taste.

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