Spider venom reveals new secret.


University of Arizona researchers led a team that has discovered that venom of spiders in the genus Loxosceles, which contains about 100 spider species including the brown recluse, produces a different chemical product in the human body than scientists believed.

The finding has implications for understanding how these spider bites affect humans and development of possible treatments for the bites.

One of few common spiders whose bites can have a seriously harmful effect on humans, brown recluse spider venom contains a rare protein that can cause a blackened lesion at the site of a bite wound, or a much less common, but more dangerous, systemic reaction in humans.

“This is not a protein that is usually found in the venom of poisonous animals,” said Matthew Cordes, an associate professor in the UA’s department of chemistry and biochemistry, who led the study, published today in the journal PLOS ONE.

The protein, once injected into a bite wound, attacks phospholipid molecules that are the major component of cell membranes. The protein acts to cleave off the head portion of the lipids, leaving behind, scientists long have assumed, a simple, linear, headless lipid molecule.

The research team has discovered that in the test tube, the venom protein causes lipids to bend into a ring structure upon the loss of the head portion, generating a cyclical chemical product that is very different than the linear molecule it was assumed to produce.

“The very first step of this whole process that leads to skin and tissue damage or systemic effects is not what we all thought it was,” said Cordes.

The lipid knocks off its own head by making a ring within itself, prompted by the protein from the spider venom, Cordes explained. “Part of the outcome of the reaction, the release of the head group, is the same. So initially scientists believed that this was all that was happening, then that became established in the literature.”

The research team is Cordes, fellow UA researcher Vahe Bandarian, an associate professor also in the department of chemistry and biochemistry, and collaborator Greta Binford, an associate professor of biology at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore. who completed her doctorate and a postdoc at the UA.

Cordes, Bandarian and Daniel Lajoie, a PhD candidate in Cordes’ lab, tested venom from three species of brown recluse spiders from North and South America. Binford, an arachnologist who has traveled the world in search of the eight-legged creatures, collected the spiders, isolated their DNA and milked their venom, which was then frozen and shipped to the UA labs for analysis.



“We didn’t find what we thought we were going to find,” Cordes added. “We found something more interesting.”

The cyclical shape of the headless molecule means that it has different chemical properties than the linear headless lipid believed to be generated by the protein, Cordes explained. The biological effects of either molecule in human membranes or insects aren’t completely known, he said, but they are likely to be very different.

“We think it’s something about that ring product generated by this protein that activates the immune system,” said Binford.

“The properties of this cyclic molecule aren’t well-known yet, but knowing that it’s being produced by toxins in venoms might heighten interest,” Cordes said. “Knowing how the protein is actually working and making this cyclic molecule could also lead to better insights on how to inhibit that protein.”

For those who do have a reaction to the venom, the most common response is an inflammation that after one to two days can develop into a dark lesion surrounding the bite site. The blackening, or necrosis, of the skin is dead skin cells, evidence of the immune system’s efforts to prevent spread of the toxin by preventing blood flow to the affected area.

“Our bodies are basically committing tissue suicide,” said Binford. “That can be very minor to pretty major, like losing a big chunk of skin. The only treatment in that case is usually to have a skin graft done by a plastic surgeon.”

About once every five years, Binford said, someone develops a serious systemic reaction to a brown recluse bite, which can be fatal. “If it goes systemic, then it can cause destruction of blood cells and various other effects that can in extreme cases lead to death by kidney failure or renal failure,” said Cordes.

However, it is believed that the vast majority of brown recluse bites are so minor that they go unnoticed by those who were bitten.

It’s not known what determines the type or severity of reaction a person is likely to get when bitten by a brown recluse, Cordes said, “but what is known is that this protein is the main cause of it.”

“I think if we know how the toxin works, it opens a new door to understanding how the syndrome is initiated as well as the possibility of blocking that process.”

“The discovery of this product may be crucial in understanding what exactly is going on in the human reaction,” Binford said.

For the spider biologists and chemists, the work has just begun.

“These spiders have been around with this toxin for over 120 million years,” Binford said. “I want to understand the full set of variation present in a single spider and across the entire genus and the activity of this compound.”

“People think about the brown recluse with fear,” she added. “When I think about a brown recluse or any other spider, I think about how a single spider can have 1,000 chemicals in its venom and there are about 44,000 species, so tens of millions of unique compounds in spider venom that we’re in the process of discovering. We have a lot to learn about how these venom toxins work and potential for understanding new chemistry and developing new drugs or treatments.”

Understanding how brown recluse venom produces harmful effects in humans is particularly relevant in Arizona, a hotbed for these spiders, Cordes said: “There are more variant species of Loxosceles here than anywhere else in the United States.”

 

Source: http://phys.org

 

 

Snake venom contains toxic clotting factors.


The powerful venom of the saw-scaled viper Echis carinatus contains both anticoagulants and coagulants finds a study published in the launch edition of BioMed Central‘s open access journal Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins including Tropical Diseases (JVATiTD). These may be a source of potent drugs to treat human disease.

 

The saw-scaled viper family Echis, responsible for most snake attacks on humans, are recognizable by the ‘sizzling’ noise they make, produced by rubbing together special serrated scales, when threatened. Echis venom causes coagulopathy, which can result in symptoms ranging from lack of blood clotting, hemorrhage, renal failure and stroke.

 

Researchers from the Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute, Iran led by Hossein Zolfagharian noted that treating plasma with venom from Echis carinatus actually causes it to coagulate. Splitting the venom by ion exchange chromatography showed that then venom contained both coagulants and anticoagulants. The clotting factors alone were toxic to mice.

 

The diametric effects of snake venom on blood are of interest because of medical applications, and although snakes can be considered as dangerous to humans – they may yet save lives.

 

In the auspicious Year of the Snake, BioMed Central, the open access publisher, is pleased to announce that the Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins including Tropical Diseases (JVATiTD), the official academic journal of the The Center for the Study of Venoms and Venomous Animals (CEVAP) of São Paulo State University (UNESP), based in Brazil, has moved to BioMed Central’s open access publishing platform.

 Also this journal marks growth of BioMed Central‘s portfolio of open access journals to 250.

Along with research into snakes JVATiTD publishes studies into all aspects of toxins, venomous animals, and their derivative products, as well as tropical diseases especially infectious diseases, parasites and immunology.

Source: http://phys.org

Invisible harms.


Focus on Poverty: We can create solar nations.


Solar power makes sense — if you can get it right. For many isolated rural communities, off-grid solutions are the best chance of accessing electricity. We assume too readily that such solutions have to be small-scale and expensive. Two major national projects from different world regions suggest this doesn’t have to be the case.

Peru recently announced a programme to supply solar power to two million of its six million people without access to electricity. The emphasis will be on poor rural areas, and the solar programme will contribute to the overall target of providing electricity to 95 per cent of Peru’s population of 30 million by 2016, up from 66 per cent now. [1]

The World Bank considers Peru to be “a country committed to poverty reduction and shared prosperity”, [2] but there is a major gap between urban and rural poverty rates — 18 and 56 per cent respectively. [3]

“Ambitious leadership and realistic financing plans make solar a genuine alternative for villages in hard-to-reach development contexts.”

Roger Williamson

The new National Photovoltaic Household Electrification Programme is partly a response to an International Finance Corporation report in 2011 that concluded that less than one per cent of the country’s possible solar power resources were being exploited . However, the national regulatory framework was updated to encourage use of renewable energy in the same year. [4]

In addition, there clearly is support at the top for the new drive, as Jorge Merino, the energy and mining minister, has featured prominently in the programme’s launch and subsequent publicity.

My awareness of the potential for solar energy to reach poor communities with little prospect of being connected to the grid was heightened some years ago when I met Dipal Barua, one of the founders of Grameen Bank, who has since branched out into an ambitious programme to make Bangladesh one of the first solar nations.

His vision is to provide solar power to rural families at no more than the cost of the kerosene that they would otherwise use for power. [5]

Bangladesh now has a renewable energy association [6] and Barua has updated his presentation: he told an international ‘off-grid’ conference in Ghana last year that 1.5 million home solar installations have now been made in Bangladesh, benefiting 15 million people. [7]

Of course, one must be cautious in evaluating plans and promises. I have visited neither Peru nor Bangladesh, so am unable to assess the reality of these programmes. But these two stories suggest that ambitious leadership and realistic financing plans make solar a genuine alternative for villages in hard-to-reach development contexts.

Roger Williamson is an independent consultant and visiting fellow at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, United Kingdom. Previous positions include organising nearly 80 international policy conferences for the UK Foreign Office and being head of policy and campaigns at Christian Aid. 

References

[1] Choudhury, N. Peru aims to deliver solar to 95% of country by 2016(Responding to Climate Change, 1 August 2013)

[2] World Bank Peru: A Country Committed to Poverty Reduction and Shared Prosperity (World Bank, 28 June 2013)

[3] World Bank Peru Overview (World Bank, accessed 21 August 2013)

[4] International Finance Corporation Assessment of the Peruvian Market for Sustainable Energy Finance (International Finance Corporation, October 2011) 

[5] Andani, A.A. Dipal Chandra Barua on How they are Covering 50% of Bangladeshi Population through Innovative Solar Project (Vimeo, video posted November 2012)

[6] Tordesillas  C. Bangladesh launches renewable energy platform (Asian Power.com, 9 April 2012)

[7] Barua, D. Creating A Solar World for 1.6 Billion energy starved people around the world (International Off-Grid Renewable Energy Conference & Exhibition, November 2012)

Source: www.scidev.net

How Sugar Can Become Toxic.


Story at-a-glance

  • Mice fed a diet containing 25 percent sugar – the equivalent of three cans of soda daily – were twice as likely to die as mice fed a similar diet without sugar
  • In 1700, the average Englishman ate four pounds of sugar a year. This has increased steadily to reach 77 pounds of sugar annually for the average American today
  • This excessive sugar consumption is being increasingly linked to health problems like high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, heart attack and more
  • It’s likely that the less sugar you eat, the better; I advise keeping your total fructose consumption below 25 grams per day

Mice fed a diet containing 25 percent sugar – the equivalent of three cans of soda daily – were twice as likely to die as mice fed a similar diet without sugar. 1

Such was the finding of a new 58-week University of Utah study, which once again highlights the early death sentence many Americans may receive for indulging far too often in this sweet treat.

While the mice did not display obvious signs of metabolic diseases, such as obesity, they were nonetheless significantly affected by the sugar. Male mice fed sugar were 26 percent less territorial and produced 25 percent fewer offspring, for example.

Said study author James Ruff in Time:2

“The [mice] are having fewer offspring because they are having a hard time competing, they’re less effective at foraging and raising young. That is due to lots of perturbations across their physiology.

Since most substances that are toxic in mice are also toxic in people,it’s likely that those underlying physical problems that cause those mice to have increased mortality are at play in people.”

sugar

A 19-Fold Increase in Sugar Consumption in Just Three Centuries

In Sugar Love: A Not so Sweet Story,3 author Rich Cohen chronicles the, often bloody, history of sugar and humans’ love affair with this sweet poison. One of the most noteworthy statistics is this: in 1700, the average Englishman ate four pounds of sugar a year.

This has increased steadily to reach 77 pounds of sugar annually for the average American today, which amounts to more than 22 teaspoons of added sugar daily.

And therein lies the problem. Consuming small amounts of sugar may not be a problem, but consuming sugar by the pound certainly is. As Dr. Richard Johnson, who was interviewed for the article, said:

“It seems like every time I study an illness and trace a path to the first cause, I find my way back to sugar. Why is it that one-third of adults [worldwide] have high blood pressure, when in 1900 only 5 percent had high blood pressure?

Why did 153 million people have diabetes in 1980, and now we’re up to 347 million? Why are more and more Americans obese? Sugar, we believe, is one of the culprits, if not the major culprit.”

This isn’t simply a matter of consuming ‘empty calories,’ either, as the American Heart Association would have you believe.

“It has nothing to do with its calories,” endocrinologist Robert Lustig stated. “Sugar is a poison by itself when consumed at high doses.”4

Why Calories from Sugar and Fructose May Increase Your Risk of Serious Disease

According to Dr. Lustig, fructose is “isocaloric but not isometabolic.” This means you can have the same amount of calories from fructose or glucose, fructose and protein, or fructose and fat, but the metabolic effect will be entirely different despite the identical calorie count.

This is largely because different nutrients provoke different hormonal responses, and those hormonal responses determine, among other things, how much fat you accumulate.

Half of the sugar the average American consumes in a day is fructose, which is 300 percent more than the amount that will trigger biochemical havoc. And many Americans consume more than twice that amount! Thanks to the excellent work of researchers like Dr. Robert Lustig, as well as Dr. Richard Johnson, we now know that fructose:

·         Is metabolized differently from glucose, with the majority being turned directly into fat.

·         Tricks your body into gaining weight by fooling your metabolism, as it turns off your body’s appetite-control system. Fructose does not appropriately stimulate insulin, which in turn does not suppress ghrelin (the “hunger hormone”) and doesn’t stimulate leptin (the “satiety hormone”), which together result in your eating more and developing insulin resistance.

·         Rapidly leads to weight gain and abdominal obesity (“beer belly”), decreased HDL, increased LDL, elevated triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, and high blood pressure—i.e., classic metabolic syndrome.

·         Over time leads to insulin resistance, which is not only an underlying factor of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but also many cancers.

This is why the general rule that you can lose weight only by counting calories simply doesn’t work. After fructose, other sugars and grains are likely the most excessively consumed foods that promote weight gain and chronic disease. 

This also includes food items that are typically viewed as healthy, such as fruit juice or even large amounts of high-fructose fruits. What needs to be understood is that when consumed in large amounts, these items will alsoadversely affect your insulin, which is a crucially potent fat regulator.

So even drinking large amounts of fruit juice on a daily basis can contribute to weight gain… In short, you do not get fat because you eat too many calories and don’t exercise enough. You get fat because you eat the wrong kind of calories. As long as you keep eating fructose and grains, you’re programming your body to create and store fat.

The Fat Switch: Unveiling the Five Basic Truths That Can Help You Lose Weight

Dr. Johnson discovered the method that animals use to gain fat prior to times of food scarcity, which turned out to be a powerful adaptive benefit. His research showed that fructose activates a key enzyme, fructokinase, which in turn activates another enzyme that causes cells to accumulate fat. When this enzyme is blocked, fat cannot be stored in the cell.

Interestingly, this is the exact same “switch” animals use to fatten up in the fall and to burn fat during the winter. Fructoseis the dietary ingredient that turns on this “switch,” causing cells to accumulate fat, both in animals and in humans. His latest book, The Fat Switch, dispels many of the most pervasive myths relating to diet and obesity. There are five basic truths that Dr. Johnson explains in detail in the book that overturn current concepts:

1.    Large portions of food and too little exercise are NOT solely responsible for why you are gaining weight

2.    Metabolic Syndrome is actually a healthy adaptive condition that animals undergo to store fat to help them survive periods of famine. The problem is most all of us are always feasting and never undergo fasting. Our bodies have not adapted to this yet and as a result, this beneficial switch actually causes damage to contemporary man

3.    Uric acid is increased by specific foods and causally contributes to obesity and insulin resistance

4.    Fructose-containing sugars cause obesity not by calories but by turning on the ‘fat switch’

5.    Effective treatment of obesity requires turning off your fat switch and improving the function of your cells’ mitochondria

I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book, which is a useful tool for those struggling with their weight. Dietary sugar, and fructose in particular, is a signifi

Is Any Amount of Sugar Safe?

Excess sugar consumption has been clearly linked to health problems like diabetes,5 heart attack6 and much more, so it’s likely that the less sugar you eat, the better, and this is particularly true when it comes to fructose. As a standard recommendation, I advise keeping your TOTAL fructose consumption below 25 grams per day. For most people, it would also be wise to limit your fructose from fruit to 15 grams or less, as you’re virtually guaranteed to consume “hidden” sources of fructose if you drink beverages other than water and eat processed food.

Fifteen grams of fructose is not much — it represents two bananas, one-third cup of raisins, or two Medjool dates. Remember, the average 12-ounce can of soda contains 40 grams of sugar, at least half of which is fructose, so one can of soda alone would exceed your daily allotment.  

I realize that there is a controversy over fructose from fruits. I believe that the average American will benefit from following these fructose restrictions, as many are seriously overweight. But for those who are fit and normal body weight, I suspect you could increase those levels significantly if the fructose is from WHOLE fruit, not juice, and not suffer any complications. More than likely you would receive health benefits from the phytonutrients in the fruit as long as you were fit and not overweight.

Sources and References:

·         Nature Communications August 14, 2013

·         Time August 14, 2013

·         National Geographic August 2013

·         National Geographic August 2013

·         PLoS ONE 8(2): e57873.

·         Circulation March 12, 2012

 

 

Why Coke is a Joke—New Ad Campaign DefendsCoke.


Story at-a-glance

  • Coca-Cola Co. has launched a new ad campaign to assure consumers that its no- or low-calorie beverages containing the artificial sweetener aspartame are a safe alternative
  • There are no studies showing the use of diet drinks for foods lowers ones weight. In fact, calorie counting as a weight loss strategy has been firmly debunked by research.
  • It is far more important to look at the source of the calories than counting them. You get fat because you eat the wrong kind of calories, and artificial sweeteners cannot fool your body
  • Despite being promoted for weight loss, foods and beverages with artificial sweeteners have never been proven to help weight loss. In fact studies that look at this actually find artificial sweeteners promote weight gain
  • Research has also demonstrated that aspartame worsens insulin sensitivity to a greater degree than sugar, which is quite the blow for diabetics who obediently follow the recommendation to switch to diet sodas to manage their condition
  • Aspartame has also been found to cause cancer, such as leukemia, lymphoma, and other tumors, in laboratory animals.

coke-joke

Earlier this year, Coca-Cola Company rolled out an ad campaign encouraging people to unite in the fight against obesity. The irony of the situation was not lost on most people however, and the ads drew fire from consumers, consumer advocates and obesity experts1,2 alike.

After all, there’s no doubt that soda is one of the primary beverages responsible for skyrocketing obesity rates, and Coke’s campaign was seen as little more than an effort in damage control.

Soda sales are down, and Coca-Cola should be applauding this fact as it is matched by some small improvements with our childhood obesity rates. Instead, they are marketing sodas harder than ever to make up for lost sales.

Coca-Cola believes a calorie is just a calorie, and if you consume more than you burn – that’s why you become obese. In other words, their products and marketing to children are not to blame – the problem is that Americans just don’t exercise enough.

Now, Coca-Cola Co. has launched another ad campaign—this time to assure consumers that its no- or low-calorie beverages containing the artificial sweetener aspartame are a safe alternative. As reported in the featured article by AdWeek3:

“It’s Coca-Cola’s first ad explicitly defending its use of artificial sweeteners in an ad, but the print execution is an extension of the company’s campaign, launched this January, to combat detractors who blame it for contributing to obesity, by pointing to the host of diet and other beverages it sells beyond traditional, sugary cola.”

According to the ad, aspartame is a “safe, high-quality alternative to sugar.” Clearly they’ve not reviewed the hundreds of studies on this artificial sweetener demonstrating its harmful effects… Center for Science in the Public Interest’s (CSPI) Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson issued the following statement in response to Coca-Cola’s new ad4:

“Aspartame has been found to cause cancer5  leukemia, lymphoma, and other tumors—in laboratory animals, and it shouldn’t be in the food supply.

We certainly want Coca-Cola to shift its product mix toward lower- and no-calorie drinks, but aspartame’s reputation isn’t worth rehabilitating with this propaganda campaign. The company would be better off phasing out its use of aspartame and accelerating its research into safer, natural sweeteners such as those extracted from the stevia plant.”

Sweet Beverages Linked to Skyrocketing Childhood Obesity Rates

As recently reported in the Guardian Express6, kids are 40 percent heavier today compared to just 25 years ago, and a growing number of studies have linked rising childhood obesity rates to increased consumption of sugary beverages—including those sweetened with no- or low-cal sweeteners:

“Aspartame has arguably been found to have the effects of increasing the appetite, fat storage stimulation, carbohydrate cravings and weight gain.

In addition to aspartame, one cup of your child’s favorite sugary drink contains nearly 11 teaspoons of sugar, at 128 calories per serving. If you equate that to a child having, on average, one cup of any soft drink containing these ingredients with each meal that is an additional 384 calories or more each day just in beverages,” the Guardian Expresswrites.

As a general rule, the beverage industry has denied or strongly downplayed its role in the childhood obesity epidemic, despite the fact that beverage companies spend over $1 billion annually on youth-targeted marketing—especially in school settings. According to the Guardian Express, 80 percent of American schools have contracts with Coke or Pepsi to stock their products in school vending machines.

It’s an untenable position, really. Clearly, marketing WORKS, or else they wouldn’t be doing it, and when ads target an audience of 2 to 17-year olds, it’s hardly an accident that kids in that age range opt for soda whenever they’re given a chance!

Americans currently get a majority of their daily calories from sugar, primarily in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in soda and other sweetened beverages.

Half of the US population over the age of two consumes sugary drinks on a daily basis7, and this figure does not even include 100% fruit juices, flavored milk or sweetened teas, all of which are sugary too, which means the figure is actually even higher.

Yet this is only one side of the equation. On the other, you have artificiallysweetened beverages (and other “diet” foods), which, contrary to popular belief, carry just as much responsibility for the stubborn rise in obesity. Your body simply isn’t fooled by the lack of calories in these sweetened products, and studies have repeatedly confirmed that artificial sweeteners appear to cause even greater weight gain than calorie-laden sweeteners.

Falling for Flawed Calorie-Counting Advice Is a Costly Mistake

Coca-Cola’s multi-million dollar “anti-obesity” campaign focuses on the outdated idea that all calories are equal, regardless of where they come from, and that consuming more calories than you burn off results in weight gain8. It’s well worth noting that this “conventional wisdom” has been firmly debunked by science. It is in fact FAR more important to look at the source of the calories than counting them. Even Weight Watchers, the world’s largest diet company, finally recognized this two years ago.

The truth is, you do not get fat because you eat too many calories and don’t exercise enough. You get fat because you eat the wrong kind of calories. At the end of the day, your consumption of carbohydrates, whether in the form of grains and sugars (especially fructose), will determine whether or not you’re able to manage your weight and maintain optimal health. 

This is because these types of carbs (fructose and grains) affect the hormone insulin, which is a very potent fat regulator. Meanwhile, fats and proteins affect insulin to a far lesser degree.

Unfortunately, calorie-counting is still a popular misconception, around which an entire industry of “diet” foods and beverages utilizing artificial no- or low-calorie sweeteners has been built. Alas, research has repeatedly shown that artificially sweetened “diet” drinks and foods actually tend to:

·         Stimulate your appetite

·         Increase cravings for carbs, and

·         Stimulate fat storage and weight gain

Artificial Sweeteners Actually INCREASE Weight Gain

It is my belief that the FTC should sue Coke and the other diet soda manufacturers, for fraudulent advertising as there are no studies showing that the use of diet sodas cause one to lose weight. In fact, they actually have been shown to cause weight gain. A 2012 study published in the journal Appetite9 showed that saccharin and aspartame both cause greater weight gain than sugar. In this study, rats were fed plain yogurt sweetened with either aspartame, saccharin, or sugar, plus their regular rat chow, for 12 weeks. According to the researchers10:

“Results showed that addition of either saccharin or aspartame to yogurt resulted in increased weight gain compared to addition of sucrose, however total caloric intake was similar among groups.”

The reason for the similar calorie consumption between the groups was due to increased chow consumption by the rats given artificially sweetened yogurt. This type of compensation has been found in previous studies11 as well, indicating that when your body gets a hit of sweet taste without the calories to go with it, it adversely affects your appetite control mechanisms, causing increased food cravings. This connection between sweet taste alone and increased hunger can be found in the medical literature going back at least two decades. These two studies, for example, dating back to the late 80s and early 90s, both showed this link between artificial sweeteners and increased hunger:

·         Physiology & Behavior, 198812 – In this study, they determined that intense (no- or low-calorie) sweeteners can produce significant changes in appetite. Of the three sweeteners tested, aspartame produced the most pronounced effects.

·         Physiology & Behavior 199013 – Here, they again evaluated whether or not the mere taste of “sweet” increases hunger, by having human subjects chew gum for 15 minutes containing various levels of aspartame (0.05%, 0.3%, 0.5%, or 1.0%).

Interestingly, although those who chewed artificially sweetened gum reported increased hunger compared to the control group who were given nothing or unsweetened gum base to chew, the increase did not directly correlate with the aspartame concentration in the gum. Women experienced the greatest increase in hunger after chewing gum containing 0.3 percent aspartame (the second lowest concentration amount), while men were the hungriest after chewing on gum containing 0.5 percent aspartame. The authors stated:

“The highest aspartame concentrations had a time-dependent, biphasic effect on appetite, producing a transient decrease followed by a sustained increase in hunger ratings. Thus, the concentration of the sweetener, the sex of the subject, and the time after chewing, were all important determinants of whether ‘sweetness’ increased hunger”.

Diet Soda Linked to Same Health Problems as Regular Soda

Artificial sweeteners also appear to cause many other health effects typically associated with high sugar consumption. Most recently, a report published in the journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism14 highlighted the fact that diet soda drinkers suffer the same exact health problems as those who opt for regular soda, such as excessive weight gain, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke15,16. The authors—who were “shocked” at the results—looked at studies published in the past five years that examine the relationship between diet soda consumption and health outcomes:

“This paper discusses these findings and considers the hypothesis that consuming sweet-tasting but noncaloric or reduced-calorie food and beverages interferes with learned responses that normally contribute to glucose and energy homeostasis. Because of this interference, frequent consumption of high-intensity sweeteners may have the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements,” they write.

Recent research has also demonstrated that aspartame worsens insulin sensitivity to a greater degree than sugar, which is quite the blow for diabetics who obediently follow the recommendation to switch to diet sodas to manage their condition. The researchers used a dosage of aspartame that approximates the ADI for aspartame in the US (approx. 50 mg/kg body weight), and not only was aspartame found to decrease insulin sensitivity compared to controls, it also wrought havoc on brain function.

The Biological Explanation Behind Aspartame’s Harmful Side Effects

According to the “aspartame safety” page 117 issued by the Coca-Cola Company Beverage Institute for Health & Wellness, “when aspartame is digested, your body breaks it down into aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol.” Methanol is one of the root problems with aspartame. However Coca-Cola (and many other food and beverage manufacturers) often misleadingly counter the claims of methanol being a harmful aspect of aspartame by pointing out that it also occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables.

For instance, Coca-Cola writes:

“Compared to amounts obtained from an aspartame-sweetened beverage, these components are consumed in much greater amounts from a variety of foods, including milk, meat, dried beans, fruits and vegetables… a serving of tomato juice provides about six times more methanol, compared to an equivalent serving of a beverage sweetened with aspartame.”

So why would methanol cause a problem in aspartame if it’s harmless in fruits and vegetables? There are two main points that need to be understood here:

1.    Aspartame is primarily made up of aspartic acid and phenylalanine. The phenylalanine has been synthetically modified to carry a methyl group, which provides the majority of the sweetness. That phenylalanine methyl bond, called a methyl ester, is very weak, which allows the methyl group on the phenylalanine to easily break off and form methanol. This is in sharp contrast to naturally-occurring methanol found in certain fruits and vegetables, where it isfirmly bonded to pectin, allowing the methanol to be safely passed through your digestive tract.

2.    Your body metabolizes methyl alcohol differently than every other animal. All animals, with the exception of humans, have a protective mechanism that allows methanol to be broken down into harmless formic acid. This is why toxicology testing on animals is a flawed model. It doesn’t fully apply to humans.

Here’s how this works: Both animals and humans have small structures called peroxisomes in each cell. There are a couple of hundred in every cell of your body, which are designed to detoxify a variety of chemicals. Peroxisome contains catalase, which help detoxify methanol. Other chemicals in the peroxisome convert the formaldehyde to formic acid, which is harmless, but this last step occurs only in animals. When methanol enters the peroxisome of every animal except humans, it gets into that mechanism. Humans do have the same number of peroxisomes in comparable cells as animals, but human peroxisomes cannot convert the toxic formaldehyde into harmless formic acid.

So, in humans, methanol ends up acting as a Trojan horse. It’s carried into susceptible tissues in your body, like your brain and bone marrow, where an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) converts it into formaldehyde. And since there’s no catalase present, the formaldehyde is free to cause enormous damage in your tissues.

Are Your Health Problems Related to Aspartame?

Symptoms from methanol poisoning include headaches, ear buzzing, dizziness, nausea, gastrointestinal disturbances, weakness, vertigo, chills, memory lapses, numbness and shooting pains in the extremities, behavioral disturbances, and neuritis. The most well known problems from methanol poisoning are vision problems including misty vision, progressive contraction of visual fields, blurring of vision, obscuration of vision, retinal damage, and blindness. Meanwhile, formaldehyde is a known carcinogen that causes retinal damage, interferes with DNA replication and may cause birth defects.

Symptoms of methanol poisoning are very similar to the side effects of aspartame. Unfortunately, aspartame toxicity is not well known by physicians, despite its frequency. Diagnosis is also hampered by the fact that it mimics several other common health conditions. It’s quite possible that you could be having a reaction to artificial sweeteners and not even know it, or be blaming it on another cause. To determine if you’re having a reaction to artificial sweeteners, take the following steps:

·         Eliminate all artificial sweeteners from your diet for two weeks.

·         After two weeks of being artificial sweetener-free, reintroduce your artificial sweetener of choice in a significant quantity (about three servings daily).

·         Avoid other artificial sweeteners during this period.

·         Do this for one to three days and notice how you feel, especially as compared to when you were consuming no artificial sweeteners.

·         If you don’t notice a difference in how you feel after re-introducing your primary artificial sweetener for a few days, it’s a safe bet you’re able to tolerate it acutely, meaning your body doesn’t have an immediate, adverse response. However, this doesn’t mean your health won’t be damaged in the long run.

·         If you’ve been consuming more than one type of artificial sweetener, you can repeat steps 2 through 4 with the next one on your list.

If you do experience side effects from aspartame, please report it to the FDA (if you live in the United States) without delay. It’s easy to make a report — just go to the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator page, find the phone number for your state, and make a call reporting your reaction.

Improve Your Health by Ditching Sweetened Drinks

Perhaps one of the most powerful scientific discoveries to emerge in the past several years is that the old adage “a calorie is a calorie” is patently false. The research clearly demonstrates that even if you control the number of calories you eat, if those calories come from fructose, you are at increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome, or prediabetes, which includes insulin resistance, fatty liver, high blood pressure and high triglycerides.

So please, do yourself and your family a huge favor, and don’t allow yourself to get swept up in Coca-Cola’s multi-million dollar ad campaigns, which are based on flawed, inaccurate, misleading, and patently false conventions of thinking about obesity and the role of aspartame. Let’s not forget: Coca-Cola spent $1.2 million to defeat California Proposition 37 last November, which would have required genetically engineered (GE) foods to be labeled as such (which could have included soda containing GE high fructose corn syrup). That, in and of itself, is proof positive that Coca-Cola has no concern for health conscious consumers.

Sweetened beverages, whether it’s sweetened with sugar, HFCS, naturally-occurring fructose, or artificial sweeteners like aspartame, are among the worst culprits in the fight against obesity and related health problems, including diabetes, heart and liver disease, just to name a few. Ditching ALL of these types of beverages can go a long way toward reducing your risk for chronic health problems and weight gain. So what should you drink?

Your best most cost effective choice is to drink filtered tap water. The caveat though is to make sure you filter your tap water. I’ve written a large number of articles on the hazards of tap water, from fluoride to dangerous chemicals and drugs, to toxic disinfection byproducts and heavy metals, so having a good filtration system in place is more of a necessity than a luxury in most areas.

Remember, nothing beats pure water when it comes to serving your body’s needs. If you really feel the urge for a carbonated beverage, try sparkling mineral water with a squirt of lime or lemon juice.

Another option to consider is to bottle your own water from a gravity-fed spring. There’s a great website calledFindaSpring.com where you can find natural springs in your area. This is a great way to get back to nature and teach your children about health and the sources of clean water. The best part is that most of these spring water sources are free! Just remember to bring either clear polyethylene or glass containers to collect the water so no unsafe chemicals can contaminate your water on the way home. If you choose to use glass bottles, be sure to wrap them in towels to keep them from breaking in the car.

Tell Coke They’re a Joke!

Obesity is a serious public health problem in the United States, and you are being sorely misled by companies pretending to have a solution that, in reality, only worsen the problem. I strongly urge you to let the Coca-Cola Company know how you feel by telling them to stop their deceptive marketing of soda products.

Source : mercola.com

Why Coke is a Joke—New Ad Campaign Defends Aspartame.


Story at-a-glance

  • Coca-Cola Co. has launched a new ad campaign to assure consumers that its no- or low-calorie beverages containing the artificial sweetener aspartame are a safe alternative
  • There are no studies showing the use of diet drinks for foods lowers ones weight. In fact, calorie counting as a weight loss strategy has been firmly debunked by research.
  • It is far more important to look at the source of the calories than counting them. You get fat because you eat the wrong kind of calories, and artificial sweeteners cannot fool your body
  • Despite being promoted for weight loss, foods and beverages with artificial sweeteners have never been proven to help weight loss. In fact studies that look at this actually find artificial sweeteners promote weight gain
  • Research has also demonstrated that aspartame worsens insulin sensitivity to a greater degree than sugar, which is quite the blow for diabetics who obediently follow the recommendation to switch to diet sodas to manage their condition
  • Aspartame has also been found to cause cancer, such as leukemia, lymphoma, and other tumors, in laboratory animals
  • coke-joke

Earlier this year, Coca-Cola Company rolled out an ad campaign encouraging people to unite in the fight against obesity. The irony of the situation was not lost on most people however, and the ads drew fire from consumers, consumer advocates and obesity experts1,2 alike.

After all, there’s no doubt that soda is one of the primary beverages responsible for skyrocketing obesity rates, and Coke’s campaign was seen as little more than an effort in damage control.

Soda sales are down, and Coca-Cola should be applauding this fact as it is matched by some small improvements with our childhood obesity rates. Instead, they are marketing sodas harder than ever to make up for lost sales.

Coca-Cola believes a calorie is just a calorie, and if you consume more than you burn – that’s why you become obese. In other words, their products and marketing to children are not to blame – the problem is that Americans just don’t exercise enough.

Now, Coca-Cola Co. has launched another ad campaign—this time to assure consumers that its no- or low-calorie beverages containing the artificial sweetener aspartame are a safe alternative. As reported in the featured article by AdWeek3:

“It’s Coca-Cola’s first ad explicitly defending its use of artificial sweeteners in an ad, but the print execution is an extension of the company’s campaign, launched this January, to combat detractors who blame it for contributing to obesity, by pointing to the host of diet and other beverages it sells beyond traditional, sugary cola.”

According to the ad, aspartame is a “safe, high-quality alternative to sugar.” Clearly they’ve not reviewed the hundreds of studies on this artificial sweetener demonstrating its harmful effects… Center for Science in the Public Interest’s (CSPI) Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson issued the following statement in response to Coca-Cola’s new ad4:

“Aspartame has been found to cause cancer5  leukemia, lymphoma, and other tumors—in laboratory animals, and it shouldn’t be in the food supply.

We certainly want Coca-Cola to shift its product mix toward lower- and no-calorie drinks, but aspartame’s reputation isn’t worth rehabilitating with this propaganda campaign. The company would be better off phasing out its use of aspartame and accelerating its research into safer, natural sweeteners such as those extracted from the stevia plant.”

Sweet Beverages Linked to Skyrocketing Childhood Obesity Rates

As recently reported in the Guardian Express6, kids are 40 percent heavier today compared to just 25 years ago, and a growing number of studies have linked rising childhood obesity rates to increased consumption of sugary beverages—including those sweetened with no- or low-cal sweeteners:

“Aspartame has arguably been found to have the effects of increasing the appetite, fat storage stimulation, carbohydrate cravings and weight gain.

In addition to aspartame, one cup of your child’s favorite sugary drink contains nearly 11 teaspoons of sugar, at 128 calories per serving. If you equate that to a child having, on average, one cup of any soft drink containing these ingredients with each meal that is an additional 384 calories or more each day just in beverages,” the Guardian Expresswrites.

As a general rule, the beverage industry has denied or strongly downplayed its role in the childhood obesity epidemic, despite the fact that beverage companies spend over $1 billion annually on youth-targeted marketing—especially in school settings. According to the Guardian Express, 80 percent of American schools have contracts with Coke or Pepsi to stock their products in school vending machines.

It’s an untenable position, really. Clearly, marketing WORKS, or else they wouldn’t be doing it, and when ads target an audience of 2 to 17-year olds, it’s hardly an accident that kids in that age range opt for soda whenever they’re given a chance!

Americans currently get a majority of their daily calories from sugar, primarily in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in soda and other sweetened beverages.

Half of the US population over the age of two consumes sugary drinks on a daily basis7, and this figure does not even include 100% fruit juices, flavored milk or sweetened teas, all of which are sugary too, which means the figure is actually even higher.

Yet this is only one side of the equation. On the other, you have artificiallysweetened beverages (and other “diet” foods), which, contrary to popular belief, carry just as much responsibility for the stubborn rise in obesity. Your body simply isn’t fooled by the lack of calories in these sweetened products, and studies have repeatedly confirmed that artificial sweeteners appear to cause even greater weight gain than calorie-laden sweeteners.

Falling for Flawed Calorie-Counting Advice Is a Costly Mistake

Coca-Cola’s multi-million dollar “anti-obesity” campaign focuses on the outdated idea that all calories are equal, regardless of where they come from, and that consuming more calories than you burn off results in weight gain8. It’s well worth noting that this “conventional wisdom” has been firmly debunked by science. It is in fact FAR more important to look at the source of the calories than counting them. Even Weight Watchers, the world’s largest diet company, finally recognized this two years ago.

The truth is, you do not get fat because you eat too many calories and don’t exercise enough. You get fat because you eat the wrong kind of calories. At the end of the day, your consumption of carbohydrates, whether in the form of grains and sugars (especially fructose), will determine whether or not you’re able to manage your weight and maintain optimal health. 

This is because these types of carbs (fructose and grains) affect the hormone insulin, which is a very potent fat regulator. Meanwhile, fats and proteins affect insulin to a far lesser degree.

Unfortunately, calorie-counting is still a popular misconception, around which an entire industry of “diet” foods and beverages utilizing artificial no- or low-calorie sweeteners has been built. Alas, research has repeatedly shown that artificially sweetened “diet” drinks and foods actually tend to:

·         Stimulate your appetite

·         Increase cravings for carbs, and

·         Stimulate fat storage and weight gain

Artificial Sweeteners Actually INCREASE Weight Gain

It is my belief that the FTC should sue Coke and the other diet soda manufacturers, for fraudulent advertising as there are no studies showing that the use of diet sodas cause one to lose weight. In fact, they actually have been shown to cause weight gain. A 2012 study published in the journal Appetite9 showed that saccharin and aspartame both cause greater weight gain than sugar. In this study, rats were fed plain yogurt sweetened with either aspartame, saccharin, or sugar, plus their regular rat chow, for 12 weeks. According to the researchers10:

“Results showed that addition of either saccharin or aspartame to yogurt resulted in increased weight gain compared to addition of sucrose, however total caloric intake was similar among groups.”

The reason for the similar calorie consumption between the groups was due to increased chow consumption by the rats given artificially sweetened yogurt. This type of compensation has been found in previous studies11 as well, indicating that when your body gets a hit of sweet taste without the calories to go with it, it adversely affects your appetite control mechanisms, causing increased food cravings. This connection between sweet taste alone and increased hunger can be found in the medical literature going back at least two decades. These two studies, for example, dating back to the late 80s and early 90s, both showed this link between artificial sweeteners and increased hunger:

·         Physiology & Behavior, 198812 – In this study, they determined that intense (no- or low-calorie) sweeteners can produce significant changes in appetite. Of the three sweeteners tested, aspartame produced the most pronounced effects.

·         Physiology & Behavior 199013 – Here, they again evaluated whether or not the mere taste of “sweet” increases hunger, by having human subjects chew gum for 15 minutes containing various levels of aspartame (0.05%, 0.3%, 0.5%, or 1.0%).

Interestingly, although those who chewed artificially sweetened gum reported increased hunger compared to the control group who were given nothing or unsweetened gum base to chew, the increase did not directly correlate with the aspartame concentration in the gum. Women experienced the greatest increase in hunger after chewing gum containing 0.3 percent aspartame (the second lowest concentration amount), while men were the hungriest after chewing on gum containing 0.5 percent aspartame. The authors stated:

“The highest aspartame concentrations had a time-dependent, biphasic effect on appetite, producing a transient decrease followed by a sustained increase in hunger ratings. Thus, the concentration of the sweetener, the sex of the subject, and the time after chewing, were all important determinants of whether ‘sweetness’ increased hunger”.

Diet Soda Linked to Same Health Problems as Regular Soda

Artificial sweeteners also appear to cause many other health effects typically associated with high sugar consumption. Most recently, a report published in the journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism14 highlighted the fact that diet soda drinkers suffer the same exact health problems as those who opt for regular soda, such as excessive weight gain, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke15,16. The authors—who were “shocked” at the results—looked at studies published in the past five years that examine the relationship between diet soda consumption and health outcomes:

“This paper discusses these findings and considers the hypothesis that consuming sweet-tasting but noncaloric or reduced-calorie food and beverages interferes with learned responses that normally contribute to glucose and energy homeostasis. Because of this interference, frequent consumption of high-intensity sweeteners may have the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements,” they write.

Recent research has also demonstrated that aspartame worsens insulin sensitivity to a greater degree than sugar, which is quite the blow for diabetics who obediently follow the recommendation to switch to diet sodas to manage their condition. The researchers used a dosage of aspartame that approximates the ADI for aspartame in the US (approx. 50 mg/kg body weight), and not only was aspartame found to decrease insulin sensitivity compared to controls, it also wrought havoc on brain function.

The Biological Explanation Behind Aspartame’s Harmful Side Effects

According to the “aspartame safety” page 117 issued by the Coca-Cola Company Beverage Institute for Health & Wellness, “when aspartame is digested, your body breaks it down into aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol.” Methanol is one of the root problems with aspartame. However Coca-Cola (and many other food and beverage manufacturers) often misleadingly counter the claims of methanol being a harmful aspect of aspartame by pointing out that it also occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables.

For instance, Coca-Cola writes:

“Compared to amounts obtained from an aspartame-sweetened beverage, these components are consumed in much greater amounts from a variety of foods, including milk, meat, dried beans, fruits and vegetables… a serving of tomato juice provides about six times more methanol, compared to an equivalent serving of a beverage sweetened with aspartame.”

So why would methanol cause a problem in aspartame if it’s harmless in fruits and vegetables? There are two main points that need to be understood here:

1.    Aspartame is primarily made up of aspartic acid and phenylalanine. The phenylalanine has been synthetically modified to carry a methyl group, which provides the majority of the sweetness. That phenylalanine methyl bond, called a methyl ester, is very weak, which allows the methyl group on the phenylalanine to easily break off and form methanol. This is in sharp contrast to naturally-occurring methanol found in certain fruits and vegetables, where it isfirmly bonded to pectin, allowing the methanol to be safely passed through your digestive tract.

2.    Your body metabolizes methyl alcohol differently than every other animal. All animals, with the exception of humans, have a protective mechanism that allows methanol to be broken down into harmless formic acid. This is why toxicology testing on animals is a flawed model. It doesn’t fully apply to humans.

Here’s how this works: Both animals and humans have small structures called peroxisomes in each cell. There are a couple of hundred in every cell of your body, which are designed to detoxify a variety of chemicals. Peroxisome contains catalase, which help detoxify methanol. Other chemicals in the peroxisome convert the formaldehyde to formic acid, which is harmless, but this last step occurs only in animals. When methanol enters the peroxisome of every animal except humans, it gets into that mechanism. Humans do have the same number of peroxisomes in comparable cells as animals, but human peroxisomes cannot convert the toxic formaldehyde into harmless formic acid.

So, in humans, methanol ends up acting as a Trojan horse. It’s carried into susceptible tissues in your body, like your brain and bone marrow, where an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) converts it into formaldehyde. And since there’s no catalase present, the formaldehyde is free to cause enormous damage in your tissues.

Are Your Health Problems Related to Aspartame?

Symptoms from methanol poisoning include headaches, ear buzzing, dizziness, nausea, gastrointestinal disturbances, weakness, vertigo, chills, memory lapses, numbness and shooting pains in the extremities, behavioral disturbances, and neuritis. The most well known problems from methanol poisoning are vision problems including misty vision, progressive contraction of visual fields, blurring of vision, obscuration of vision, retinal damage, and blindness. Meanwhile, formaldehyde is a known carcinogen that causes retinal damage, interferes with DNA replication and may cause birth defects.

Symptoms of methanol poisoning are very similar to the side effects of aspartame. Unfortunately, aspartame toxicity is not well known by physicians, despite its frequency. Diagnosis is also hampered by the fact that it mimics several other common health conditions. It’s quite possible that you could be having a reaction to artificial sweeteners and not even know it, or be blaming it on another cause. To determine if you’re having a reaction to artificial sweeteners, take the following steps:

·         Eliminate all artificial sweeteners from your diet for two weeks.

·         After two weeks of being artificial sweetener-free, reintroduce your artificial sweetener of choice in a significant quantity (about three servings daily).

·         Avoid other artificial sweeteners during this period.

·         Do this for one to three days and notice how you feel, especially as compared to when you were consuming no artificial sweeteners.

·         If you don’t notice a difference in how you feel after re-introducing your primary artificial sweetener for a few days, it’s a safe bet you’re able to tolerate it acutely, meaning your body doesn’t have an immediate, adverse response. However, this doesn’t mean your health won’t be damaged in the long run.

·         If you’ve been consuming more than one type of artificial sweetener, you can repeat steps 2 through 4 with the next one on your list.

If you do experience side effects from aspartame, please report it to the FDA (if you live in the United States) without delay. It’s easy to make a report — just go to the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator page, find the phone number for your state, and make a call reporting your reaction.

Improve Your Health by Ditching Sweetened Drinks

Perhaps one of the most powerful scientific discoveries to emerge in the past several years is that the old adage “a calorie is a calorie” is patently false. The research clearly demonstrates that even if you control the number of calories you eat, if those calories come from fructose, you are at increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome, or prediabetes, which includes insulin resistance, fatty liver, high blood pressure and high triglycerides.

So please, do yourself and your family a huge favor, and don’t allow yourself to get swept up in Coca-Cola’s multi-million dollar ad campaigns, which are based on flawed, inaccurate, misleading, and patently false conventions of thinking about obesity and the role of aspartame. Let’s not forget: Coca-Cola spent $1.2 million to defeat California Proposition 37 last November, which would have required genetically engineered (GE) foods to be labeled as such (which could have included soda containing GE high fructose corn syrup). That, in and of itself, is proof positive that Coca-Cola has no concern for health conscious consumers.

Sweetened beverages, whether it’s sweetened with sugar, HFCS, naturally-occurring fructose, or artificial sweeteners like aspartame, are among the worst culprits in the fight against obesity and related health problems, including diabetes, heart and liver disease, just to name a few. Ditching ALL of these types of beverages can go a long way toward reducing your risk for chronic health problems and weight gain. So what should you drink?

Your best most cost effective choice is to drink filtered tap water. The caveat though is to make sure you filter your tap water. I’ve written a large number of articles on the hazards of tap water, from fluoride to dangerous chemicals and drugs, to toxic disinfection byproducts and heavy metals, so having a good filtration system in place is more of a necessity than a luxury in most areas.

Remember, nothing beats pure water when it comes to serving your body’s needs. If you really feel the urge for a carbonated beverage, try sparkling mineral water with a squirt of lime or lemon juice.

Another option to consider is to bottle your own water from a gravity-fed spring. There’s a great website calledFindaSpring.com where you can find natural springs in your area. This is a great way to get back to nature and teach your children about health and the sources of clean water. The best part is that most of these spring water sources are free! Just remember to bring either clear polyethylene or glass containers to collect the water so no unsafe chemicals can contaminate your water on the way home. If you choose to use glass bottles, be sure to wrap them in towels to keep them from breaking in the car.

Tell Coke They’re a Joke!

Obesity is a serious public health problem in the United States, and you are being sorely misled by companies pretending to have a solution that, in reality, only worsen the problem. I strongly urge you to let the Coca-Cola Company know how you feel by telling them to stop their deceptive marketing of soda products.

Source : mercola.com

The Quest for a Male Contraceptive.


John Amory, a doctor at the University of Washington, has been developing a male contraceptive for 15 years. Turns out, it’s harder than it sounds. We spoke with him to find out why.

PopSci: Why is it taking so long to produce a birth-control pill for men?

John Amory: Women make one egg a month, but men make 1,000 sperm every second of every day, from puberty until the day they die. Turning that off is difficult.

PS: How does hormone contraception work?

JA: If you give a man enough testosterone, the brain will shut down the secretion of gonadotropins, which are the hormones that signal the testes to make sperm. This is why most bodybuilders are infertile, by the way. But it doesn’t work in all men.

PS: How many men does testosterone work for?

JA: We have never been able to get more than 95 percent effectiveness. It’s possible to identify who testosterone won’t work for, but it involves getting a lot of sperm counts. It would be much nicer if you could just say, “Take this and it will work.” Women don’t have to undergo ovulation detections and testing to see if the Pill is going to work for them.

PS: The World Health Organization funded a study across eight countries for hormone-based contraception, but last year, it shut down the study early. What happened?

JA: There were side effects, including severe depression. Some men don’t take hormonal shifts very well.

PS: What other approaches might work?

JA: Sperm have a pretty daunting mission. There’s a lot that can go wrong. Researchers have injected monkeys with eppin, a protein that coats sperm so they can’t swim. There’s also the process by which sperm make energy. If you can block that, you’d get tired sperm. Also, the testes need vitamin A to produce sperm, and there’s an enzyme that converts vitamin A to its active metabolite, retinoic acid. No retinoic acid, no sperm. I’m developing drug inhibitors that stop retinoic-acid production in the testes. I’m hopeful that we’ll have something approved in five years.

PS: Do you expect much demand for the male pill?

JA: Yes. Men are interested in having sex. Most of the time they’re not as interested in fathering a pregnancy.

http://www.popsci.com

World’s Smallest Drone Autopilot System Goes Open Source.


The Lisa/S chip is 4 square-centimeters — about the same size as a Euro coin. But this 1.9-gram sliver of silicon includes everything you need to autopilot an aerial drone.

It’s the world’s smallest drone autopilot system — over 30 grams lighter than its predecessor — according to the chip’s designers at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. And best of all, both the hardware and the software is open source, meaning anyone can copy and use it — for free.

lisa_s_helicopter-660x436

“The main reason we chose open source is that we want to make it available for society,” says the project’s leader, Bart Remes. He envisions open source drone technology enabling a wider range of civilian drone applications, from agriculture to search and rescue.

“Before, only the military had access to this type of technology,” he says. “My vision is that within a few years, every fireman [will have] a drone in his pocket.”

Remes says he’s been flying remote-controlled aircraft since he was six years old. About 10 years ago, as a student at Delft, he started building his own drones, attracted to the challenges of programming and electronics. It turned out that very small drones — called micro air vehicles, or MAVs — are a great way to teach aerospace engineering because they’re relatively cheap, safe and easy to program.

“At university, a lot of students are working in a compute simulation and never see the real world,” Remes says. “With MAVs, they get to see the real world.” His student work turned into a full-time job as the head of the university’s MAV Laboratory, which is responsible for projects like DelFly, a small wing-flapping drone that resembles a dragonfly.

 

The Lisa/S is the MAV Laboratory’s latest project. The chip’s software is based on Paparazzi, an open source drone autopilot system that’s been around since 2003. The real innovation is the hardware. The tiny chip packs in everything you need for an autopilot system, including a gyroscope, accelerometer, altimeter, GPS, and an ARM processor — the same sort of CPU you might find in your smartphone. The Lisa/S can be used with any type of drone, from quadcopters to fixed-wing systems, Remes says.

The one limitation, he says, is that it can’t provide a continuous data link to its operators. “For us, it’s not a limitation, because it’s autonomous,” he says. “But I can understand that some people need constant data connection to the autopilot, so they’d need a slightly larger link.”

The chip was designed with the help of a U.S.-based electronics company called 1Bitsquared, which will sell Lisa/S chips starting in January 2014. But since both the hardware and software is open source, Remes says any company will be able to sell chips based on the technology.

Source: http://www.wired.com

Chinese adults hire wet nurses to provide human breast milk on demand as ‘Mother Nature’s smoothie’.


The South China Morning Post is now reporting that adults in China are paying good money to breastfeed on wet nurses who are well paid for providing their milk. The wet nurses are paid around US$2,700 per month, and clients are offered the ability to consume the beverage directly. As in mammary consumption.

Woman-Self-Exam-Breast-Cancer-Skin

(Pause to let this sink in for a minute…)

A lot of people think this is ultra-creepy. And that was my first reaction, too. After all, the image of a 35-year-old adult man or woman feeding on the breasts of another woman somehow doesn’t seem normal. Then again, in a culture where pop music celebrities parade around in slutty porn gear, nearly having sex on stage at music awards ceremonies as audiences applaud, I’m not sure anybody remembers what “normal” looks like anymore. Somehow, a 35-year-old business man feeding on the breasts of a well-paid wet nurse seems a lot less bizarre than the stage antics of Miley Cyrus, pop culture’s newest deviant whose disturbing public perversions have set a new low for vulgarity.

It turns out, though, that there’s more to this breastfeeding story than the mere shock factor. Some of these people who hire the wet nurses are 
chronically diseased and can’t find sufficient nourishment in all the processed, contaminated foods that now characterize China. The Chinese people are starving for real nutrition and living in a country of unequalled chemical contamination. When real food is hard to come by, it just so happens that human breast milk is Mother Nature‘s smoothie. No one can deny that breast milk contains a miraculous assortment of immune-boosting, health-enhancing substances, many of which modern science can’t even begin to understand but which every mom innately knows sustains and nourishes life.

When considered from this perspective — in light of a malnourishment victim seeking the world’s best source for human nutrition — it suddenly seems acceptable… possibly even therapeutic.

It all depends on the intention of the person hiring the wet nurse, of course. If it’s done for entertainment and novelty purposes, it’s weird. If it’s done as a desperate measure for lifesaving nutrition, it’s commendable.

Most people, however, can’t get past the shocking imagery of it. 
Dr. Tim Stanley of The Telegraph, for example, seems appalled at the idea that adult humans might drink human breast milk. “It’s revolting,” he says. “It’s every bit as wrong as prostitution.”

cows_milk_600

Yet I’m willing to bet Dr. Stanley drinks 
bovine breast milk (i.e. “milk”), a beverage that’s far more bizarre because it’s cross-species and nutritionally inferior to human breast milk. If you’re going to drink Mother Nature’s infant formula, it makes far more scientific sense to drink it from your own species and not get it from some hooved, furry creature that weighs four times as much as a human.

The only reason the consumption of human breast milk seems so bizarre to people like Dr. Stanley is because we’ve all gotten used to the far more revolting idea of sucking at the teat of an 800-pound cow. Of course, the dairy industry takes that milk and homogenizes it and pasteurizes it, turning the healthy beverage of raw cow’s milk into a monstrosity of autoimmune disease, digestive disorders, acne and constipation. Pasteurization, it turns out, destroys the fragile lactase enzymes that allow humans to digest lactose. This is why so many people are wildly allergic to pasteurized cow’s milk.


Capitalism gone wild? Or commonsense solution for a sick society?

“If China’s oligarchs treat their people like cattle, that’s exactly where capitalism without morality ends,” Dr. Stanley argues.

And I say whoa, hold on there, ‘pardner! Have you taken a look recently at GlaxoSmithKline and the criminality of the pharmaceutical empires that treat everybody on the planet like cattle? Or how about Merck and their HPV vaccines that sacrifice the lives of teenage girls for corporate profits?

Let’s get real about this: The USA is the home of “capitalism without morality!” How else do you get a fast food industry that serves toxic, chemically-altered, nutritionally-depleted foods that cause widespread chronic disease? How else do you get a soda industry whose products cause diabetes and whose refined sweeteners laced with mercury?

If there’s an encyclopedia entry for “capitalism without morality,” it should feature the pictures of all the Goldman Sachs insiders who always seem to end up running the Fed, or the Treasury, or other investment firms. Wall Street is the epitome of capitalism without morality.

By comparison, a woman who accepts honest money to deliver an honest product — human breast milk — is sitting atop a mountain of morality compared to a typical Wall Street bankster who loses other people’s money for profit. What on Earth is immoral about selling Mother Nature’s nutrition to people who need it? Isn’t that actually a pure form of honest capitalism?

 

Breast milk can be toxic if the mom is exposed to heavy metals

You have to give Dr. Stanley some leeway on this issue, however. He’s an historian, not a nutritionist. He may not have considered this topic from the angle I’ve covered here, and I hope he reconsiders his view after seeing this article.

I agree with his view, however, if this breastfeeding is purchased as some weird, twisted form of entertainment. But my understanding is that these arrangements are being pursued by people who are simply seeking nutrition, not entertainment. They sure aren’t going to get that nutrition from Ensure or other canned dead protein vitamin drinks (made mostly from altered milk proteins, sugar and synthetic vitamins). Getting real nutrition directly from the source makes a lot more sense.

Of course, human breast milk is often heavily contaminated with heavy metals, PCBs, pesticides, BPA and a cocktail of other toxic substances due to the environmental exposure of the woman. So if the woman eats a poor diet herself, her breast milk is going to be more of a toxic brew than a nourishing smoothie.

Ideally, a truly capitalist system would recognize a higher value in women who follow cleaner diets and who allow their breast milk to be subjected to heavy metals tests. Those with the cleanest milk would command the highest premiums in a free market exchange with full transparency of the “product” quality. It’s much like paying a premium for certified organic strawberries versus conventional, pesticide-ridden strawberries.

In fact, I believe there should be a free market for human breast milk as long as it’s regulated for basic safety and honesty. But in the United States where nutrition is practically considered criminal, the FDA has outlawed the selling of human breast milk, even to those who really, really need it. That’s the real crime in all this — the denial of access to human nutrition… even for babies who are fed government-subsidized junk infant formula made with corn syrup and soy protein (both of which are GMO).

This is also the core reason behind the FDA’s armed raids on raw milk producers in California and elsewhere. Raw milk farmers have been subjected to armed raids, prison torture, outrageous prosecutions by insane district attorneys, and much more. It seems that people who provide unadulterated, nutritious food to customers are increasingly seen as criminals by the police state government. It is no coincidence that nearly all the government’s health policies promote ongoing chronic disease, pharmaceutical dependence and a lifetime of servitude to a system of “sick care” that doesn’t want people to have access to real nutrition.

 

I encourage more discussion on this issue

Ultimately, everyone who calls themselves “pro choice” must, by definition, support a woman’s right to voluntarily choose to sell her own breast milk in a free market exchange. It’s her choice, after all, right? And isn’t her milk her property to do with as she pleases?

Coincidentally, that’s also the libertarian angle in all this: since when did the state have any right to tell you what you can and can’t do with your own body fluids? Is not every man or woman free to sell his or her own regenerative body fluids, or hair, or even their own blood to someone else who values it? Don’t blood banks offer money for people who choose to sell their blood for payment? Don’t some women sell their hair to wig companies who make “real hair” wigs for chemotherapy victims?

After all, some women sell their voices as music stars. Other sell their bodies as models. Some sell their brains in exchange for a corporate salary. Why can’t moms who are particularly gifted with breast milk sell that milk to someone who needs it and values it? This sacred right to own and control your own body is fundamental to a free society. If you don’t believe you own your own body (and all its fluids), then you by definition believe in statist slavery.

Dr. Stanley probably agrees with the principle of what I’m explaining here, by the way. And I don’t have any beef with Dr. Tim Stanley. He’s actually a really bright and entertaining writer, and this topic of business men breastfeeding on wet nurses probably caught him off guard. I actually like Dr. Stanley’s writing style, and I laugh out loud at some of his hilarious headlines such as, “North Korea is running out of virgins for Kim Jong-un’s dance troupe. It’s every dictator’s nightmare.” As far as I’m concerned, we need more journalists with the flair of Dr. Stanley, regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum.

I just hope he’ll rethink his position on human breast milk, even for sick adults who are desperately seeking nutritional support. It’s not as weird as it first seems once you consider the science…

For the record, if any of this milk is being taken by adults at the expense of infants and babies, I would be completely against it. In my view, infants and babies should get this nutrition first. Only if there’s excess should adults be next in line.

Source:
http://news.sina.com.cn/