Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Mutilation as a Chastity Belt

"Those who practiced it [female genital cutting] felt it was their private issue. People can be very angry, like us, in the beginning. No one wants their tradition to be judged negatively."
"[When Molly Melching, community worker] brought this information, [the harmful effects of genital cutting], I was very defensive and angry. After a few backs and forths with her, I realized it was very harmful."
"At the beginning, people would rather die than abandon it [the practise of genital cutting]. No one would believe this could happen, to stand publicly against family, government."
"[But], we were very diplomatic. Sometimes we felt shy or wanted to run away. But even if I was rejected, I went back [to each village visited]. You have to persevere."
"My advice is to be patient and analyze each situation and not to impose your thoughts on people. If you impose, people can be defensive."
Demba Kiawara, 80, village imam, Keur Simbara, Senegal

"[Trying to influence people whose custom it was that female genital cutting was an absolute religious requirement had to be done patiently and carefully, otherwise ending the practise] would involve severe sanctions against any girl who is not cut and would even mean she might be ostracized."
"Mr. Diawara's effectiveness in urgently informing small communities of the dangers inherent in continued female cutting resulted because] he is not judgemental and does not impose. Rather, he explains that this is not a religious obligation and that it has harmful health consequences."
Molly Melching, 67, American community worker, educator, Senegal

"People like me who started school but didn't finish are stubborn and hard to convince."
"At first I was against ending cutting. But we hold Demba dear [and eventually] we came to know what he was saying was grounded in truth."
Mamadou Konate, 59, Keur Simbara

"I was very surprised because we got it from our ancestors."
"When we got all the details, we then said, 'This is something we need to abandon to protect our girls'."
Dusu Konate, 53, Keur Simbara
Senegal's anti-FGM campaigner: 'My child won't be cut'
Students huddle around a traditional clay pot that they draw their FGM stories on [Fatma Naib/Al Jazeera]

When the message was disseminated, bit by bit, it was received with shock. A highly respected elder, a religious figure of renown, a Muslim imam, was informing villagers that the ages-old custom of cutting the genitals of young girls resulted in direct, long-term physical harm done them, quite aside from the psychological trauma suffered by girls of all ages, held down forcibly while someone took a sharp piece of metal, a knife, or a glass, to cut away her clitoris, the pleasure-source of a female during intercourse.

In tribal, primitive, authoritarian, patrilineal societies across Africa and the Middle East, mostly Muslim societies, this was viewed as a measure that would tame female sexuality. Suffering pain, not pleasure during sexual intercourse, pain throughout the menstrual cycle, pain during childbirth, women's natural sense of sexual arousal would be tamped down, to ensure they would remain chaste, avoiding any kind of extramarital relations, completely loyal to a husband. That often children bled to death in the process or sustained lethal infections failed to warn of the consequences of the practise.

There are various types of genital cutting; in some societies it is minimal, in others it is quite viciously dangerous, but any type of practise of this kind represents a patriarchal attack on women's sexuality, the end result being to treat girls and women as chattels, not independent human beings with sovereign human rights attached to them. In Senegal, the most extreme type of genital mutilation traditionally takes place where the clitoris and parts of the labia are removed, the vagina sealed partly closed.

In the 1980s, American Molly Melching arrived in Senegal for the purpose of educating villagers in Senegal who had had he benefit of little formal education. She and her team of community workers taught classes in basic literacy in health, sanitation, governance and human rights. She had gained the trust of those she taught and her reputation preceded her. A decade after her first appearance, local women broached the topic of genital cutting during discussions of women's reproductive health.

And that led to a more wide and general discussion incorporating the practise of genital cutting, when the women appear to have been introduced for the first time to the dangers inherent in genital cutting. It seems they had never on their own linked that custom with the problems they all experienced with menstruation, childbirth and sex. And when that link was made and the discussions explored all of these details and links, a storm of controversy ensued. After all, if a marriageable girl or woman had never been 'cut', she was considered undesirable as a wife.

But this information came from someone who spoke their language, who lived among them, whom they had learned over the years to trust. This was a wise woman, a woman who listened to their stories, went out of her way to help solve their problems. Ms. Melching had founded a nonprofit whose purpose was to educate the poor, to reduce poverty, and eventually Tostan was recognized for its work to end genital cutting. Eventually the Senegalese government adopted the approach taken by Tostan to educate villagers in their native language to surrender the age-old practise.

Images from the anti-FGM 'It Happens Here' campaign
Images from the award-winning but controversial anti-FGM charity 'It Happens Here' ad campaign Photo: Ogilvy and Mather/28 Too Many

A 2014 survey undertaken in Senegal concluded that among women aged 15 to 19 years, 21 percent had undergone cutting; that number less than the 25 percent in 2005. In one region, however the rate of cutting among all ages proved as high as 92 percent. Tostan has since expanded its service and purpose to an additional seven African countries where over 200,000 people participated in its three-year education program, leading 80,000 communities to publicly abandon female cutting, child marriage and forced marriage.

Without influential local leaders like Imam Diawar the challenge would have been more formidable than it turned out to be. He travelled by foot or horse cart to 359 villages, making use of extended family links and social networks to help deliver his message. He has since spoken to international audiences in Egypt, New York, the United Kingdom, Sweden and the United States, with Ms. Melching often accompanying him to translate from his native language.

Sister Fa, a Senegalese rapper, has been conducting workshops with children, parents, local rappers and the wider community to raise awareness about children's rights - especially for girls - and the dangers of cutting. [FatmaNaib/Al Jazeera]

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Alien Species Invasion Aftermath

"The best explanation for the rapid decline of most mammals throughout southern Florida is pythons."
"We've known that this is really bad [the presence of vectors carrying a virus potentially seriously harmful to humans] for some time."
"You can't completely alter an ecosystem and not expect that there won't be other implications that will impact humans."
Bob McCleery, professor of wildlife ecology, University of Florida

"I don't think that anyone could have predicted that this large snake, decimating some native mammals in a relatively wild area, could have some kind of cascading impact for human health."
Invasive species have consequences beyond economic costs and disrupting community function. They can affect ecosystems in ways that even impact human health. Here we show that an invasive predator (the Burmese python) alters the mammal community in a way that shifts a vector mosquito's feeding patterns towards the host of a human pathogen. This theoretically increases human risk for the mosquito-borne pathogen.

Read more at:
Invasive species have consequences beyond economic costs and disrupting community function. They can affect ecosystems in ways that even impact human health. Here we show that an invasive predator (the Burmese python) alters the mammal community in a way that shifts a vector mosquito's feeding patterns towards the host of a human pathogen. This theoretically increases human risk for the mosquito-borne pathogen.

Read more at:
Invasive species have consequences beyond economic costs and disrupting community function. They can affect ecosystems in ways that even impact human health. Here we show that an invasive predator (the Burmese python) alters the mammal community in a way that shifts a vector mosquito's feeding patterns towards the host of a human pathogen. This theoretically increases human risk for the mosquito-borne pathogen.

Read more at:
"As far as I am aware, this is the first time that researchers have found that an invasive predator (such as the python) has caused an increase in contact between mosquitoes and hosts of a human pathogen."
"Hopefully, this work could spur more research focused on the impact of invasive species for human (and wildlife) health."
"Voters and policy makers need to understand how human activities that affect the environment can have unintended consequences, which can increase our risk of infection with dangerous pathogens."
Nathan Burkett-Cadena, assistant professor of entomology, University of Florida
Image: Python
University of Florida researchers hold a 162-pound Burmese python captured in Everglades National Park, Fla. Therese Walters, left, Alex Wolf and Michael R. Rochford, right, are holding the 15-foot snake shortly after the python ate a six-foot American alligator in 2009.

In the 1980s a new kind of pet became popular for people living in Florida, snakes and other reptiles from Madagascar, Egypt or Burma, exotic animals that hold a fascination for people who enjoy keeping 'pets'. Among other reptiles the Burmese python was particularly sought-after. What could be cuter than a baby python, 25 centimeters long? Until they begin growing, and growing and growing... It's been hypothesized that pet-owners faced with the mature size of these snakes grew desperate about having them around; nothing cute about a python wrapping itself around one's neck, after all.

And then these pythons began showing up in the Everglades. There's no estimation of how many of them wound up there, but there they flourished and they multiplied, and their numbers became a problem as they found their new homes quite to their liking. As hunters they strangled, crushed and ate all other animals, birds and anything remotely edible in their new home. The introduced species succeeded in clearing out native species by the early 2000s.

No more foxes, no more rabbits; gone, devoured. Deer, raccoon and opossum were scarcely to be seen. A four-meter python was known to have consumed a two-meter alligator, a meal more than the snake was able to contend with. It exploded. In 2015, professor of wildlife ecology from the University of Florida, Bob McCleery, equipped 26 rabbits with tracking devices and loosed them into the Everglades. Before long they too were gone, with the tracking deices signalling from the snakes' stomachs.

While vulnerable prey was demolished altering the ecology of the unique preserve of the Everglades, one species appeared to be exempt from what was occurring; not as cuddly as the rabbits, the hispid cotton rats' presence was preserved. The species that once hunted the rats, foxes and bobcats were no longer there, and presumably the rats are great reproducers. What they also are is hosts of a strain of the Venezuelan equine encephalitis complex, more colloquially known as the Everglades virus, mosquito-spread.
Culex cedecei biting the tail of a hispid cotton rat. The rat happens to be one of the only known natural hosts of Everglades virus, a pathogen that causes encephalitis - inflammation of the brain. In additon, C.cedecei is the only mosquito known to transmit Everglades virus
Culex cedecei biting the tail of a hispid cotton rat. The rat happens to be one of the only known natural hosts of Everglades virus, a pathogen that causes encephalitis - inflammation of the brain. In additon, C.cedecei is the only mosquito known to transmit Everglades virus

The native Everglades mosquito which once had ample warm-blooded victims in the presence of foxes, rabbits, deer and raccoons suddenly found itself reduced to feeding on the rats. The runaway presence of the mosquitoes, the rats and the Everglades virus resulting from that combination threatens human health. The Everglades virus can cause fever, headache and a swelling of the brain; encephalitis. Fortunately, as yet there have been no human outbreaks of the disease.

Anticipating just such a scenario, Dr. Burkett-Cadena and his research team from University of Florida studied data from Venezuela, Guatemala and Mexico where incidents of viruses in the same family of the Venezuelan equine encephalitis complex were thought to have spread from rats to people. They then published their research findings in the hope that the prospect of a virus outbreak could be avoided if action were taken based on their study.

Although over two thousand of these snakes, the largest species in the world, have been removed from the Everglades, experts feel that this represents a minuscule proportion of the numbers remaining in the preserve's snake population.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission non-native Wildlife Technician, holds a North African Python during a press conference in the Florida Everglades about the non-native species on January 29, 2015 in Miami, Florida
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission non-native Wildlife Technician, holds a North African Python during a press conference in the Florida Everglades about the non-native species on January 29, 2015 in Miami, Florida

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

The "Silent" Killer Cancer

"It has become almost a forgotten cancer, and yet it's so devastating to the people who get it."
"The reality is that there have been very few advances in the last 40 years. So basically what you would be told 40 years ago is what you're told today."
Michelle Capobianco, executive director, Pancreatic Cancer Canada Foundation

"New research conducted at the Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research in Liverpool, New South Wales, has found a new approach to treating pancreatic cancer. The research, published in Oncotarget, suggests that a combined approach that targets tumor cells with chemotherapy while inhibiting specific pathways that mediate stromal-tumor interactions may represent a novel therapeutic strategy to improve outcomes in pancreatic cancer patients."
"This research, funded by the Hirshberg Foundation, aims to find new approaches to treating pancreatic cancer, because targeting cancer cells alone has failed to substantially improve patient outcomes."
"It is now acknowledged that the microenvironment surrounding pancreatic cancer cells plays an important role in cancer progression. Pancreatic stellate cells, found in the microenvironment surrounding pancreatic tumors, facilitate pancreatic cancer progression through increased tumor growth and metastasis. This study has shown that a two-pronged approach that combines standard chemotherapy with compounds that cut off the communication between cancer cells and pancreatic stellate cells greatly reduces tumor growth and virtually eliminates tumor spread to distant sites."
November 13, 2017, Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, Los Angeles, California

"In many cases, it's silent until it's already metastatic. Only about 20 percent of patients are eligible for surgery because the other 80 percent have metastatic disease when we meet them for the first time."
"...The convincing factor that's definitely associated [with pancreatic cancer onset] is smoking."
Dr. Steven Gallinger, surgical oncologist, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto
The pancreas in the digestive system
The pancreas in the digestive system
The pancreas is a long, flat gland that lies horizontally behind your stomach. It has a role in digestion and in regulating the level of sugar in your blood.
Cancer of the pancreas can afflict people of any age, but roughly 90 percent of people who do develop pancreatic cancer are aged over 55 years. The average age of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is about 90. There is a genetic component to the onset of pancreatic cancer, but lifestyle certainly plays a big role in its onset. Excess alcohol intake, consuming a diet high in red meat and low in fibre appear to be additional risk factors for the disease. Smoking raises the risk of this cancer by two to three times.

As malignant diseases go, pancreatic cancer ranks as the fourth-deadliest of the cancers. In Canada, it accounts for six percent of all cancer deaths occurring in the country. Lethal profile aside, there is a low public awareness of this kind of cancer. Yet it accounts for a mere seven percent of patients surviving five years from the time of diagnosis. As for research into this lethal disease, it ranks low on the totem pole of cancer research funding as the most poorly funded of all, where about two percent of all money raised for cancer research ends up.

In 2017 an estimated 5,500 Canadians will be diagnosed with this form of cancer, and about 4,800 of that number will die from pancreatic cancer. As for the United States, 53,670 people were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2017, and of that total 43,000 failed to survive (The U.S. has a population ten times that of Canada's). The function of this slender, oval organ is to release enzymes into the small intestine for digestion purposes, along with the hormone insulin from the Islets of Langerhans located in the pancreas as a control on the use of energy-producing glucose derived from food in our diet.

Placed deep within the abdominal cavity, typically symptoms of pancreatic cancer fail to become evident until that time when the disease has had ample time to become advanced. Over 60 percent of tumours associated with this cancer are diagnosed at a late stage, after having spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body. This type of cancer, unfortunately, is also problematic in the treatment process since it is highly resistant to chemotherapy.


Signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer often don't occur until the disease is advanced. They may include:
  • Pain in the upper abdomen that radiates to your back
  • Loss of appetite or unintended weight loss
  • Depression
  • New-onset diabetes
  • Blood clots
  • Fatigue
  • Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)

Risk factors

Factors that may increase your risk of pancreatic cancer include:
  • Chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of genetic syndromes that can increase cancer risk, including a BRCA2 gene mutation, Lynch syndrome and familial atypical mole-malignant melanoma (FAMMM) syndrome
  • Family history of pancreatic cancer
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Older age, as most people are diagnosed after age 65
Mayo Clinic Pancreatic cancer

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Enjoying Food ... Slowly

"Eating more slowly may be a crucial lifestyle change to help prevent metabolic syndrome."
"When people eat fast they tend not to feel full and are more likely to overeat. Eating fast causes bigger glucose fluctuation, which can lead to insulin resistance."
Dr. Takayuki Yamaji, cardiologist, Hiroshima University

"It's a reminder that many of us have hectic lifestyles which may include eating quickly at the desk over lunchtime, or in a rush commuting home."
Professor Jeremy Pearson, British Heart Foundation

"Being overweight increases your risk of ischemic stroke by 22 percent, and if you are obese, the risk increases by 64 percent, so tackling obesity is crucial."
"There are a number of steps we can all take ... including eating a balanced diet, taking regular exercise, and having a regular blood pressure check."
Esmee Russell, British Stroke Association
Taking time over food could help prevent obesity 
Taking time over food could help prevent obesity  Credit: Getty

Scientists conclude as a result of their studies that eating too quickly results in the brain not 'noticing' when too many calories have been taken in. The body then stores those calories that are unneeded, extraneous to energy needs, as fat. And the eventual build-up of fat, particularly in the region of the abdomen, places internal pressure on the viscera, the heart and other internal organs. It has become evident through studies that eating too quickly appears to cause blood-sugar spikes.

Maturity-onset (Type 2) diabetes occurs when people in their mid-years of adulthood are sedentary and overweight. The combination of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity not only can damage blood vessels, but any body hosting all three of these health conditions spells a dangerous threat to longevity. Recently, research was presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2017 that point out people eating food too quickly are five times likelier to develop symptoms raising the risk of a heart attack, than those who eat their food thoughtfully and leisurely.

Japanese scientists discovered that people who take the time to deliberately eat slowly are also less likely to put on weight, or to develop metabolic syndrome, representing a group of dangerous health problems, exemplified by high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. These are symptoms that lead to other, even more serious health conditions, threatening to life and limb, literally. Diabetic neuropathy is the cause of serious eye failure and neuropathic conditions that can lead to amputations.

For their study, the Japanese researchers tracked over a thousand middle-aged men and women for a five-year period, where their eating patterns and general health were monitored. That led to a finding that 2.3 percent of the slow eaters developed metabolic syndrome, while 6.5 percent of medium-speed (normal) eaters, and a whopping 11.6 percent of the fast eaters came away with metabolic syndrome, reflective of the manner in which they consumed their food.

The obvious conclusion is that those who eat taking the least amount of time to do so turned out to be five times likelier to develop symptoms raising the risk of a heart attack, diabetes and stroke. Average weight gain of roughly 19 pounds was also three times more likely to occur in the speedy eaters.

man gobbling down pasta

Eating too fast may be bad for both your heart and your figure.  MedicalNewsToday

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Unnatural Breeding

"Three healthy reclones of Snuppy are alive, and as with Snuppy we do not anticipate that the reclones will go through an accelerated rate of aging or will be more prone to develop diseases than naturally bred animals."
"Animal cloning has gained popularity as a method to produce genetically identical animals or superior animals for research or industrial uses."
South Korean scientists, report published in the journal Nature

"We do not imagine using these technologies for cloning humans."
"[The three puppies now about a year old] will be closely watched. Almost every aspect of their life will be measured -- their disease development, their immune system and growth and metabolism."
"[When Snuppy was born], the major concern was whether these guys [cloned dogs] would live [a natural life] or not."
"[Today], “there is lots of pet cloning going on right now. Owners are concerned whether their clones will live [a normal lifespan] or if they will experience accelerated aging and die early. So, there is some business concern."
CheMyong Jay Ko, University of Illinois

"[The] battle over humans [that will continue to surface through cloning will focus on genetic engineering, not pure replication]."
"What we'll see is more attempts to engineer humans [through gene-editing techniques like CRISPR]."
"There may be an occasional single oddball that wants to clone themselves to reproduce, but it’s going to be on the margins."
“If you have a lot of people cloning animals, it’s the same problem we have now — who’s going to want the stray or the mutt?"
"[And] If you’re paying a whole lot of money for a cloned dog, disappointment becomes a big issue around cloning because you’re paying for, ‘I want this product'.’ It makes them a little more like manufactured goods."
Arthur Caplan, Professor of Bioethics, Langone Medical Center, New York University
The three surviving reclones at two months of age. They were dervived by SCNT of adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ASCs) taken from Snuppy at five years of age.  PST
Snuppy, the original Snuppy named for 'Seoul National University puppy', was born with the use of somatic cell nuclear transfer, in 2005. An embryo was created through the use of a nucleus removed from a somatic cell and transferred to an unfertilized egg, stripped of its own nucleus. The resulting embryo that was to become the world's first cloned dog, an Afghan Hound, was inserted into a surrogate female dog, to produce Snuppy. Who lived for ten years.

South Korean scientists recloned Snuppy with the use of stem cells taken from his body fat at five years of age. A special type of stem cells called mesenchymal cells, capable of differentiating to several types of cells were used to create Snuppy's clones. Taken from Snuppy's belly fat then frozen, to go through a thawing process recently, placed in a culture to grow, and injected into eggs( with their nucleus removed) from female canine donors. And then, as with the original, the cloned embryos transferred to surrogate female dogs to carry through gestation to birth.

The health of clones has been a matter of some controversy, that they were more susceptible to early onset of diseases. Snuppy, however was healthy until he developed cancer, just as his predecessor from whom the original stem cells were taken to produce Snuppy had. But ten years reflects the average lifespan of a large hound such as Afghans. According to the report the researchers published in Scientific Reports journal, the second generation of Snuppy clones will lead to a "new era" in studying the health and longevity of cloned animals.

Snuppy's predecessor-cloned animal, Dolly the sheep, died of the effects of severe osteoarthritis along with a disease of the lungs, at just six years old, representing half the normal expected lifespan for a Finn Dorset sheep. Birth defects have commonly been reported for some cloned puppies, as the researchers pointed out in their paper, published in Scientific Reports. On the other hand, other dogs that have been cloned were born defect-free and were able to reproduce naturally.

Afghan hounds have a mortality rate from cancer of 31 percent, while cancer is common in dogs of all breeds who contract a kind of cancer seen exclusively in dogs; hemanglosarcoma. When Snuppy's clones were created, a total of 94 retrofitted embryos had been transferred to recipient female dogs to carry through to birth. Four of them were born by Cesarean section, but It appears that only three survived.

Snuppy walks on the grass as South Korean stem cell researcher Dr. Hwang Woo-Suk announces the first successfully cloned Afghan hound at the Seoul National University on August 3, 2005 in Seoul, South Korea. Chung Sung-  Jun/Getty Images

 It was actually a discredited South Korean stem cell scientist, Hwang Woo-Suk, who pioneered the cloning of dogs. He had advanced himself as having created human stem cells from a cloned embryo, his claim causing a sensation in the world of science and bioethics. Until it was discovered that his research findings were faked. After experts in the field verified the reality of his work resulting in Snuppy, he now focuses on his Sooam Biotech Research Foundation specializing in dog cloning "No matter its age, size and breed", a purely commercial venture for which the rewards are high; up to $100,000 for a cloned puppy for grieving dog owners.

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Heart-Stopping Sex

"This [sex partners' reluctance to attempt CPR] likely explains the relatively low survival rates despite mostly shockable initial cardiac arrest rhythms."
"It is also recognized that sexual activity may trigger nonfatal acute cardiac events such as myocardial infarction [heart attack]."
Research study: Journal of the American College of Cardiology

"There is plenty of evidence that performing CPR by bystanders until the ambulance arrives translates to significantly better survival for cardiac arrest."
"By definition, a cardiac arrest occurring during sexual activity is witnessed by a partner, and if CPR would have been initiated by the partner this would have been likely to save the lives of some of these [studied] patients."
Aspo Aro, cardiologist, Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, Los Angeles, study lead author

"There was no data out there to tell them whether their risk is low, medium or high [heart patients' risk of having sex]."
"Here's a situation where you have a captive audience ... I mean, it's tough not to have a partner for sexual activity."
"Maybe the setting was not great and the shock was too much. And, you know, who knows who the partner was -- if it's your spouse, or it isn't. We really didn't study those things."
"[Regardless], clearly we have to increase the awareness of doing CPR, no matter what the circumstances are."
"[For bystanders], just try to get out of your shock and get to it. Here is someone who is a loved one -- all you have to do is put your hands on the chest and put your muscles to work. It increases the chance of them making it out of this whole thing alive."
Dr. Sumeet Chugh, cardiologist, director, heart rhythm centre,  Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute
seniors in bed

Sex does not pose a significant risk for cardiac arrest, study finds   MedicalNewsToday

One of the issues discussed in group discussions in preparing open-heart surgery patients for resumption of their normal lives post-surgery while still recovering in hospital, is the resumption of sexual activities. And while care is cautioned, patients are generally informed there is no reason not to resume their normal lives in all respects. The issue of potential heart-stopping situations in the post-recovery period or after is not necessarily broached. And likely that is because that potential remains relatively uncommon and doctors do want their patients to realize a full recovery and to maintain their normal lifestyles.

Dr. Chugh, the senior author of this newly published study and his research colleagues, undertook an examination of the records relating to over 4,500 instances of sudden cardiac arrest, to discover that of that total 34 were linked to sexual activity, with 94 percent of that number being male. What dismayed and shocked the doctors is their conclusion that the men's sex partners appeared unwilling to swing into CPR mood and action.

Dr. Aro wrote in the study the observation that sex is not without risk. In a German study of the issue, 0.2 percent of autopsied natural deaths were found to have been linked with sex. Sudden cardiac arrest -- as distinct from a heart attack when blood supply to the heart is stopped or diminished because of a blockage -- occurs when the heart stops beating, abruptly. This represents a "mostly lethal condition" whose result is over 300,000 deaths in the United States annually; between 35,000 to 45,000 in Canada.

Dr. Chugh acknowledges that patients themselves are known to make enquiries about the risk of having sex, but that a dearth of information was available. Which led the researchers to analyze data from the Oregon Sudden Unexpected Death Study, initiated in 2002 and ongoing, representing the largest community-based study involving a population of roughly a million people, in Portland. Past medical history, blood, genetic and allied risk markers from people who "literally drop dead in their homes or anywhere outside hospital" was collected for the study.

The result was to enable the researchers to identify 4,557 sudden cardiac arrests in Portland occurring between 2002 and 2015, of which 34 occurred during or in the minutes after sex with those affected likely on average to be male, middle-aged and with a  history of heart disease. One in 100 instances of cardiac arrest in men was found to be associated with sex; the comparable number in women was one in 1,000. And while the absolute risk is taken to be "extremely low", even among the heart disease community, the researchers deplored the finding that the sex partner was loathe to respond.

Men, accounted for 70 percent of all sudden cardiac arrests, and women 30 percent in the cardiac arrests related to sex, so it was concluded that while men appear grossly over-represented, the reason is unclear. The researchers theorized that men might have been using medications, stimulants or possibly had consumed alcohol before sex. Alternately, they might have been more ill, as a result of their heart disease, and as a result, more vulnerable.

The discovery that bystander CPR was performed in 11 heart stoppages involving sex appears a useful explanation for the survival of only six of the 34 people. In August, another study found men to be four times likelier to die from a cardiac arrest if it occurs during sex; French researchers found that these men waited twice as long for resuscitation, spending an average of 8.4 minutes with no assistance, compared to men who experienced a cardiac arrest while involved in sports, walking or gardening, according to the Independent newspaper.

The chance of survival decreases about ten percent for every minute passing without the administration of CPR and defibrillation when an abnormality in the heart's electrical system causes a cardiac arrest.
(Please try to attend a CPR training course)  CLICK HERE FOR A VIDEO DEMONSTRATION
1. CALL Check the victim for unresponsiveness. If the person is not responsive and not breathing or not breathing normally. Call 911 and return to the victim. If possible bring the phone next to the person and place on speaker mode. In most locations the emergency dispatcher can assist you with CPR instructions.
If the victim is still not breathing normally, coughing or moving, begin chest compressions.  Push down in the center of the chest 2-2.4 inches 30 times. Pump hard and fast at the rate of 100-120/minute, faster than once per second.

3. BLOW Tilt the head back and lift the chin. Pinch nose and cover the mouth with yours and blow until you see the chest rise. Give 2 breaths.  Each breath should take 1 second.
NOTE: This ratio is the same for one-person & two-person CPR.  In two-person CPR the person pumping the chest stops while the other gives mouth-to-mouth breathing.

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Iceland's Future Forests

"At the time of human settlement almost 1150 years ago, birch forest and woodland covered 25-40% of Iceland's land area. The relatively tall (to 15 m) birch forests of sheltered valleys graded to birch and willow scrub toward the coast, on exposed sites and in wetland areas and to willow tundra at high elevations."
"As in agrarian societies everywhere, the settlers began by cutting down the forests to create fields and grazing land. Sheep were important as a source of wool from the outset, but by about 1300 they had become a staple source of food for Icelanders as well"

"An important contributor to Iceland's mitigation policy is planting trees."
"It's a big discussion here."
"[Roughly 40 percent of the country is desert] but there's plenty of rainfall -- we call it 'wet desert'."
Gudmundur Halidorsson, Soil Conservation Service of Iceland

"The aim now is that in the next fifty years we might go up to five percent [coverage in forest growth in barren Iceland's environment]."
But at the speed we're at now, it would take 150 years to do that."
Saemundur Thorvaldsson, Iceland government forester
Iceland has a spectacular and most unfortunate lack of trees. It is a northern, volcanic island; a group of islands to be more precise, the largest, main island on which the capital Reykjavik stands. It suffers from severe soil erosion. Unsurprising, given the lack of forests in the country since any kind of vegetation struggles to set down roots and a lasting presence. Raising livestock is impracticable under the circumstances; where and what would they graze? Similarly farming presents its own dilemma with the loose soil swept away by wind of which Iceland has an abundance.

The population of Iceland is about 350,000 people living in a small geography, estimated at 39,000 square miles. A volcanic eruption occurs on average every four years. Quaintly in this most peculiar of environments, which is said to be the last on Earth to have been inhabited by settlers, there is a popular and firm belief in the presence of elves.  The native language spoken is that of ancient Norse. It is outstanding as a whale-watching venue, earning the country tourist dollars for that very purpose. Unsurprisingly for an isolated population, more films are viewed in Iceland than anywhere else in the world.

The country uses geothermal energy and hydro power to solve its energy needs, yet still faces high per capita emissions of greenhouse gases, as a result of transportation and heavy industries such as aluminum smelting. That there is an absence of trees to perform the vital function of absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide within their trunks, roots and tissues spells a huge dilemma for a country anxious to meet climate change goals through offsetting its industrial emissions..

There are no trees -- at least there is a huge dearth of trees -- because a thousand years ago Viking settlers axed the forests that had once been hosted on 24 percent of the countryside. Not that Iceland hasn't been trying to regenerate forests. "It's definitely a struggle", explained Jon Asgeir Jonsson who has been planting trees in the barren landscapes of his country, with the understanding that the return of forests would go far to improve and stabilize the harsh soils reflecting desertification resulting from deforestation. Jóhannesson
At the very least, three million trees have been planted in the recent past in a landscape that doesn't lend itself to nourishing them to swift maturity. An estimated one percent of Iceland was covered in forest at the turn of the 20th Century at a time when the country viewed reforestation as a priority. That pitiable percentage has barely budged, since then. Mr. Jonsson, a forester working for the private Icelandic Forestry Association, plants saplings alongside volunteers from local forestry groups. "We have gained maybe half a percent in the last century", he states gloomily.

Volcanic ash and rock spewed by ongoing eruptions contributes to severe soil erosion. Loose soil and strong winds make for sandstorms further damaging the land. Sandstorms fierce enough to blast the paint off cars. Thick layers of volcanic material leave ash rich in nutrients, but representing fragile soil unable to hold water, which shifts about with the blowing wind. Mr. Thorvaldsson considers the tree species to plant in Iceland is birch, reflecting the original species, 30 percent dominant when the land was settled.

Birch's ability to tolerate poor soil provides shelter for other species as it grows. Sitka spruce, lodgepole pine, black cottonwood -- all originated in Alaska, now growing as well in Iceland as saplings in greenhouses. Trees imported from elsewhere are prohibited by law. These trees grow quicker than birch but even they grow slowly. In comparison southeast Alaska sees its trees reaching three times the height of spruces planted in the 1940s, now reaching 15 meters in height.
The northern lights are a common source for complaints and ...
Viewing the Northern Lights   --

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