Without fire?

IN 2009 Richard Wrangham, an anthropologist at Harvard, published an intriguing thesis. He was trying to answer a question that had long puzzled workers in his field: how could the evolution of an organ as energetically expensive to sustain as the human brain have happened?

Before Dr Wrangham’s work the conventional answer was: “meat-eating”. Archaeological evidence such as a lack of tool marks on animal bones suggests humanity’s ancestors, the Australopithecines, were largely vegetarian. By contrast Homo erectus, the first widespread human being (pictured below), also ate meat, which is a more compact source of calories than most plant matter, and might thus have provided the extra brain-food needed.

Dr Wrangham, however, had a different answer: “cooking”. He showed that the ease of digestion and additional nutritional value made available by treating food with fire (which alters starch and protein molecules in ways that make them easier to digest) boosts its calorific value enough for a reasonable daily intake to power both brain and body—so much so that modern humans who attempt to live only on raw foodstuffs (there are a few who try) have great difficulty remaining well-nourished. On top of this, the softening brought about by cooking could explain a second evolutionary trend, that toward smaller teeth and less-powerful jaws.

Just when Homo erectus did start cooking is controversial. The oldest definitive evidence dates back only 500,000 years, though the species evolved 1.9m years ago. But the Wrangham thesis does not depend only on the beginning of heat-treating food. It also includes food preparation using tools to chop or pound meat and vegetables. This presumably makes them easier to digest. It also makes them easier to chew, which might account for the reduction in jaw and tooth size.

A paper published in this week’s Nature by Katherine Zink and Daniel Lieberman, two of Dr Wrangham’s colleagues at Harvard, brings some evidence to bear on these questions, particularly that of chewing. Dr Zink and Dr Lieberman used replicas of the stone tools available to Homo erectus to process food, and looked at the consequences for those who attempted to masticate the result.

The pseudo-Palaeolithic diet the two researchers chose comprised beets, carrots and yams as root vegetables, and goat as meat. They prepared the vegetables four ways: raw and unprocessed; raw and hit six times with a copy of a Palaeolithic hammerstone; raw and cut into small slices; and roasted for 15 minutes. The goat was also served four ways: raw and unprocessed; raw and pounded 50 times by a hammerstone; raw and cut into small slices; and cooked on a grill for 25 minutes. Dr Zink and Dr Lieberman then fed each preparation to a group of volunteers, to see how easy it was to chew.

To measure this, they wired up the skin of their volunteers’ jaws using electrodes which recorded the force a volunteer exerted chewing. Once wired, volunteers were given samples to chew and asked to do so until they felt what they were chewing was ready to swallow. Sometimes the volunteers were then allowed to swallow. On other occasions, though, they were asked to spit the sample out, so that the bits could be analysed. (The raw meat was always spat out, to prevent foodborne illness.)

Dr Zink and Dr Lieberman found, in line with Dr Wrangham’s original thesis, that chewing cooked root vegetables required a third less force than was needed to chew an equivalent amount of raw and unprocessed root. Slicing the vegetables did not provide any benefit, but pounding them reduced the force required to chew by about 9%. Pounding meat, by contrast, brought no benefit, whereas slicing it did. As with cooking the vegetables, it reduced the chewing force needed by around a third. Intriguingly, roasting meat actually increased the masticatory force required.

On top of this, when Dr Zink and Dr Lieberman examined food spat out by their volunteers at the point it was deemed ready to swallow, they found that the unprocessed and the pounded meat usually came back as a single large lump that would be hard for the gut to break down. In contrast, when the meat was sliced or cooked before being chewed, participants were consistently able to chew it into tiny, digestible particles.

Putting all their results together, Dr Zink and Dr Lieberman conclude that a diet of one-third sliced meat and two-thirds pounded vegetables, such as Homo erectus might reasonably have been expected to consume even in the absence of fire, would need 27% less effort to chew than an unpounded all-vegetable diet. Specifically, the inclusion of meat contributed a 15% reduction and the slicing and pounding a 12% reduction, which Dr Lieberman calculates equates to 2.5m fewer chews a year.

That could certainly account for the shrinkage of jaws and teeth undergone by Homo erectus. As to its consequences farther down the digestive tract, those remain the province of further research.

Food poisoning: Why a top expert won’t ever eat these foods

Bill Marler, a specialist in food-borne illness, has been involved in many high profile outbreaks over the past 30 years

In the aftermath of an E. coli outbreak at Chipotle, which sickened dozens of people across the United States last fall, and led to an overhaul of the company’s food safety practices, Americans reacted by avoiding the beloved fast food chain. Restaurants that once sported long lines were suddenly empty, a phenomenon that was almost surely happening nationwide.

The risks, in other words, were simply too great in people’s minds for them to continue frequenting the Mexican-inspired favorite, because Chipotle had a food safety problem.

But the outrage was at least partly misplaced, according to Bill Marler, a lawyer specialising in food-borne illness. The outbreak, he says, was less of an anomaly specific to the chain than a symptom of the American food system, which isn’t as safe as it could be and really should be.

Marler, who has been involved in many high profile outbreaks over the past 30 years, including the 1993 E. coli outbreak at Jack in the Box, which killed several children and forced the government to administer a zero tolerance for the presence of the pathogen in food, reminds that problems like the one at Chipotle are far more common than most people realize. Food recalls, of which there are many, frequently fly under the radar. In 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, more than 8,000 food products were recalled by the Food and Drug Administration and nearly 100 were recalled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The problem touches organic foods, too.

The industry, Marler says, does a good job of nudging people to forget about all this, and we all do a good job of obliging, because food safety isn’t the sort of thing anyone likes to think about.

The way in which the American food system works is often perplexing if not entirely nonsensical, according to Marler. For this reason, he takes precautions people less familiar with food safety oversight might find absurd. In a recent piece, published in Bottom Line Health, he lists six foods he no longer eats, because he believes the risk of eating them is simply too large. The list includes raw oysters and other raw shellfish, raw or under-cooked eggs, meat that isn’t well-done, unpasteurized milk and juice, and raw sprouts.

Bill Marler specialises in food-borne illness .

“You wouldn’t believe some of the things I have learned over the years,” he said. “I have some crazy stories.”

I spoke with Marler to hear some of these stories, learn about the things we might want to think twice about eating, and better understand what exactly it is that people don’t understand about food safety in the United States. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Would the average person be horrified if they knew what you know about the food system?

I think there are a lot of things about the food system that the general public would find completely nonsensical—not necessarily frightening, but definitely nonsensical. Like how E. coli is considered an adulterant in hamburgers, but salmonella and many other pathogens are not. How salmonella is allowed on chickens, which the USDA oversees, but salmonella is not allowed in any product that the FDA oversees.

There are a lot of disparate pieces in the food safety system in the United States, and there is no one really who is fully in control of it. And the public health system is made up of 51 separate departments of public health—the CDC and 50 states—and they’re not necessarily playing from the same sheet of music.

I know a lot more about the flaws in the system than the average person, and these would be incredibly perplexing to most people. If people knew these kind of things, I’m pretty sure they would question why the system is built the way it is.

So it isn’t safe?

From a safety standpoint, I don’t necessarily think that we’re the safest food system in the world, but neither do I think that we’re the worst food safety system in the world. We do have a fairly amazing ability to surveil foodborne illnesses. Not necessarily to find out why they happened, or what we could do to prevent them, but we’re pretty good at keeping track of people who have positive stool cultures. I speak all over the world on food safety issues, and almost everyone around the world uses the CDC foodborne illness statistics, and then just extrapolates those onto their populations.

This Habit Increases Diabetes Risk

As if your inability to get to bed before midnight didn’t already haunt you, new research suggests your sleep problems are seriously upping your risk of type 2 diabetes. Numerous studies have linked problems like sleep apnea, insomnia, and even working the night shift with a higher diabetes risk, but new research suggests even just regularly having trouble falling or staying asleep—something we’re willing to bet most of us would consider totally normal—can increase your risk of developing diabetes by 45%. (Try these 11 ways to get a better night’s sleep.)

After taking into account other concerns that could increase diabetes risk, like hypertension and body mass index, women who reported this type of sleep difficulty had about a 22% increased risk of developing diabetes, explains Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and coauthor of the study. It’s the largest study so far about sleep difficulty and type 2 diabetes, thanks to data from both the Nurses’ Health Study and the Nurses’ Health Study II, two of the longest-running studies of women’s health. Hu and his colleagues were able to analyze answers from more than 133,000 women about their sleep between 2000 and 2011.


This Habit Increases Diabetes Risk
“Sleep difficulty itself may have biological effects, like increased stress hormone, which has been associated with increased insulin resistance,” he says. “Or sleep difficulty may be related to stress, which may contribute to increased risk of diabetes.” (Balance your hormones and lose up to 15 pounds in just 3 weeks; here’s how!)

It gets worse before it gets better: Women with that sleep difficulty as well as three other sleep problems—frequent snoring, sleep apnea or working the night shift, getting 6 or fewer hours of sleep a night—were more than 400% more likely to develop diabetes. Women with any one of those problems had a 47% increased diabetes risk, compared with women with no sleep problems whatsoever.

“Bottom line, both sleep quality and quantity are important for the prevention of diabetes,” Hu says.
There is some good news, at least. For starters, you don’t have to panic about the occasional exhaustingly short night of sleep. “A couple of nights of not getting enough sleep isn’t going to do much,” says Robert S. Rosenberg, DO, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley, AZ. It’s chronically sleeping less than 6 hours a night that’ll get you in the most trouble.

Also, according to another recent study, in the case of diabetes risk, it is possible to catch up on sleep if you’re only skimping now and then. The small lab study restricted the sleep of 19 healthy men to just 4.5 hours for 4 nights in a row. Their insulin sensitivity, a measure of how well insulin regulates sugar in the blood, decreased and their diabetes risk increased. However, after just 2 nights of extra sleep—they logged more than 9.5 hours in dreamland on average on these recovery nights—both measures returned to normal. The authors caution that this was done in a lab setting, and more research will need to be done to see how recovery sleep affects diabetes risk in real-world scenarios, aka Saturdays and Sundays, but it’s a promising sign for those of us troubled by tossing and turning.

To try to at least limit that tossing and turning, don’t forget the essential rules of good sleep hygiene, Rosenberg says. “Get the electronics out of the bedroom 60 to 90 minutes before bed and go through a more relaxing routine, whether that’s meditation, listening to music, reading—it should get you into a state where you are ready to go to sleep,” he says. Stick to a regular sleep schedule as much as possible, too. (Yes, even on the weekends.)

If you already follow all the rules and you’re still inexplicably groggy when the alarm goes off, bring it up with your doc. “I think there is now sufficient evidence to indicate sleep needs to be considered as carefully as other lifestyle factors,” Hu says. “Doctors should ask whether patients have any sleep problems, whether they sleep too much or not enough, whether they snore with regularity or have difficulty falling asleep or maintaining sleep. Those are relatively simple questions doctors can ask that can be very helpful in terms of advising patients about potential preventive strategies for reducing risk of obesity and diabetes.”


Read This If You Take Melatonin To Sleep At Night

Researchers at MIT said the proper dosage of melatonin is 0.3 milligrams, but many supplements contain much higher dosages.

Melatonin is a very popular sleep aid. It’s naturally produced in your body. You don’t need a prescription for it and can buy it in gummy form or in a fruity drink. But is it as effective and safe as we think?

Natural melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland, helps humans fall asleep — and synthetic melatonin has been available as a sleep aid for nearly three decades. But the synthetic version’s effects have not been extensively studied, and since it’s classified as a “dietary supplement,” it is almost completely unregulated by the FDA.

As we mark World Sleep Day, which promotes the prevention and management of sleep disorders, it’s important to take a closer look at this common supplement.

“Any person in the sleep world will tell you the same thing: melatonin is not harmless, is vastly overused and should not be used as a sleep aid to treat insomnia,” Michael Grandner, a sleep researcher at the University of Arizona, told The Huffington Post.

Melatonin is meant to reset the body’s internal clock — for example, it’s appropriate to use the supplement to counter the effects of jet lag, or help someone sleep if they have an unusual work schedule or suffer from a circadian rhythm disorder. It should not be used for general insomnia.

The proper dosage, according to a seminal 2001 study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technologyis 0.3 milligrams. The research was conducted by Richard Wurtman, who pioneered the pharmaceutical use of melatonin as a sleep aid in1994. Pills and supplements often sell 10 times that suggested amount in a single dose. This can lead to higher plasma melatonin levels the next day, which can cause a “hangover” effect that leaves users groggy.

Any person in the sleep world will tell you the same thing: Melatonin is not harmless, is vastly overused and should not be used as a sleep aid to treat insomnia.Michael Grandner, University of Arizona

According to a 2005 meta-analysis of melatonin studies from MIT, also led by Wurtman, researchers found that the widely available high doses of melatonin are ineffective. “After a few days, it stops working,” wrote Wurtman, in a press release accompanying the study. When the brain’s melatonin receptors are exposed to too much of the hormone, they become unresponsive, he said.

Melatonin may also be unsafe for children. David Kennaway, the director of thecircadian physiology lab at the University of Adelaide in Australia, told Science Daily that the use of melatonin to treat children’s sleep disorders is “rather alarming.” He said there is “extensive evidence from laboratory studies that melatonin causes changes in multiple physiological systems, including cardiovascular, immune and metabolic systems, as well as reproduction in animals,” and its effects on children’s developing bodies is yet unstudied.

“The word ‘safe’ is used very freely and loosely with this drug,” said Kennaway, “but there have been no rigorous, long-term safety studies of the use of melatonin to treat sleep disorders in children and adolescents.”

Even for adults, the unregulated nature of the supplement gives cause for reconsideration. Although synthetic melatonin is “chemically identical” to natural melatonin, commercially available supplements “often contain fillers, inert and other ingredients that may cause effects that would not be expected with natural melatonin,” Clete Kushida, a sleep researcher at Stanford University School of Medicine, told HuffPost in an email.

“This is a concern that clinicians should relay to patients, especially since the contents of the supplements are not regulated by the FDA,” said Kushida. “And since it’s not regulated by the FDA, the long-term effects/consequences have not been studied in a controlled and systematic manner.”

The word ‘safe’ is used very freely and loosely with this drug.David Kennaway, University of Adelaide

So why do people still use it?

“Unfortunately, it’s acquired a reputation as a safe, ‘natural,’ over-the-counter quick-fix for sleep that will be hard to shake,” said Grandner.

That conviction may explain why melatonin is so popular even though it’s apparently not that effective.

Consumer Reports said melatonin supplements helped users fall asleep “only 7 minutes faster and sleep 8 minutes longer on average,” according to a 2013 analysis. And the same report notes that “about 20 percent of users in our survey reported next-day grogginess,” and recommended that users exercise caution before driving the next day.

“Melatonin is not an insomnia cure,” Grandner emphasized. “The main reasons regular people find it hard to sleep — tossing and turning, ruminating in bed — will not be affected by melatonin.” He suggested that the vast majority of people who struggle to fall asleep would be better served by establishing a consistent routine, practicing good sleep hygiene in the bedroom and getting lots of daytime light exposure.

And for those who do continue to use melatonin, he said to be mindful of the dosage. “A little nudge is as effective as a big push,” he said.


You’ve heard “the eyes are the window to the soul”, but science has found a way to turn that phrase into a reality.

You know those online quizzes that ask you to choose a door and then “reveal” unknown information about your personality? Yeah those are sort of fun, but not very accurate. Our eyes are a physical part of us, and therefore, can tell us more about ourselves.

According to a study done by scientists at Orebro University in Sweden, patterns in the iris can give an indication of whether we are warm and trusting, or neurotic and impulsive. The researchers compared the eyes of 428 subjects with their personality traits to see if these structures in the iris reflected their characters. What they found was that our eye color is affected by the same genes that form our frontal lobes, relating that there are distinctly shared behaviors in people with similarly-coloured irises.

“Our results suggest people with different iris features tend to develop along different personality lines,” said Matt Larsson, a behavioural scientist who led the study at Orebro University.”These findings support the notion that people with different iris configurations tend to develop along different trajectories in regards to personality.”

Another study from Edinburgh University, conducted by Dr. Anthony Fallone, looked at the connection between eye-colour and personality as well. Fallone says, “The eye is so closely linked neurologically to the brain that you might call it the only part of our brain you can see from the outside. It seems to hold vital clues to our brain function.”

We used to think that there was one type of a gene for light eyes and another for dark eyes, but we now know that isn’t true. Dr. Jari Louhelainen, a senior lecturer in biomolecular sciences at Liverpool John Moores University says, “What we know now is that eye colour is based on 12 to 13 individual variations in people’s genes.”

The following descriptions of personality traits based on eye-colour are fascinating, to say the least. I have brown eyes, but they change from light brown to dark brown, depending on my mood. I found that both the explanations of dark brown eyes and brown eyes fit me perfectly. Look at the descriptions below and tell us if you think these studies have got you pegged!

Dark Brown Eyes

n likely, you are a natural leader. If you don’t think that description is accurate, you may be surprised to know that that’s how people see you.

Those with eyes that almost appear black they are so dark, have the rarest eye colour. With that being said, they are often thought of as secretive or mysterious. However, a study in Current Psychology reported by Medical Daily found that those with darker eyes are generally thought of as agreeable.

The more melanin in your system, the darker your eyes are. Personality and Individual Differences published a study that says, “people with very dark eyes tend to drink considerably less than those with lighter eyes.” Another study, by Fort Hays State University, found that people with darker-cloloured eyes are better at sports which require hitting targets (such as tennis).

Melanin operates as an insulator for connections between brain cells. The more melanin, the quicker the brain reacts.

Brown Eyes

According to The Charles University in Prague, those with brown eyes are seen as being loyal, trustworthy, respectful, and gentle- but certainly not submissive.

And if you disagree with those descriptions, maybe you are cranky from not getting enough sleep.

Chronobiology International published a study which showed that those with brown eyes tend to sleep two hours less than those with light-coloured eyes, and they generally have poorer sleep cycles. They also found that those with brown eyes have a harder time waking up in the morning.

Personally, I am a morning person. But I think the magnesium salt baths at night help with that.

Blue Eyes

Inner strength and physical strength are two traits you posses, but many people may not see that about you. In fact, most people don’t often see the real you and might negatively judge you before getting to know you. People may see you as shy, untrustworthy, or weaker than you really are.

The Daily Mail reported, “in 2006, German psychologists found that blue-eyed children tended to be wary of new things and were considerably less open around their peers.”

Do you find that people treat you a certain way because you have blue eyes? It was reported in Medical Daily, “many people perceive people with blue eyes as being ‘competitive’ and even ‘egotistical’.”

Regardless of all these negative estimations, a pilot study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicinediscovered that women with lighter-colored eyes seem to tolerate pain better during childbirth than those with darker eyes. They also appear to handle the stress of childbirth better.

Dr. Inna Belfer of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine says, “In a study involving 58 pregnant women — 24 with dark-colored eyes and 24 with light-colored eyes — those with lighter eyes achieved greater reductions in postpartum anxiety, depression, and catastrophizing/rumination.”

If you are someone with blue eyes, maybe it’s possible that your curious yet cautious nature comes across as being aloof to others.

Grey Eyes

It is rare to have grey eyes. They are a variation of blue eyes- just slightly darker.

The Tech Museum of Innovation says, “dark gray eyes have more melanin in the front of the eyes, while pale, light gray eyes have considerably less.”

Having dark grey eyes means you are a very well-balanced person, or you are a “two-sided coin” type of person. Maybe there is a sort of Jekyll and Hyde thing going on inside of you. Depending on who needs what, you can be different things to different people. This can either be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on how much control you have over your emotions.

Having light grey eyes means you might have had to work a little harder in life to get to where you wanted to be. You have to work at being taken seriously, but you also keep your defenses up. It takes a while to break through your concerned and wary shell, but you care immensely for those who are able to burst through.

Hazel Eyes

The one colour that is hard to describe- hazel. They are called this because of their resemblance to the colour of a hazelnut.

According to The Eye Doctor Guide, hazel eyes look as though they change colour from green to brown. Or, as an iris with two different colours.

Hazel eyes are uncommon, and as such, those with this shade are often told from a young age that they are unique. Even the specifics surrounding the colours of hazel eyes are different to each individual who has them.

People with hazel eyes are hard to read. This eye colour varies from person to person, as does the amount of melanin in the eyes. So it is difficult to pin down a personality type. However, one common thread seems to be that they have a balanced personality- never one to jump to extremes.

Dr. Matthew Leach of the University of South Australia says, “people with hazel eyes might have mixed colors in their eyes due to materials from the bloodstream that were broken down due to liver imbalance.” With that being said, people with hazel eyes might be more likely to experience digestive issues.

Green Eyes

Those of you with green eyes, I have to say I have been envious of you. It appears that most people see you as mysterious, alluring, and sexy.

The Impulse Corporation of Los Angeles released a study pertaining to the appeal of different eye colours. Most commonly heard when asked about green eyes was the word “sexy.” Also, when asked what eye colour the participants would like to change theirs to, the majority answered with “green.”

Those with green eyes have a balance of melanin which keeps them agreeable yet dominant (like those with brown eyes), and also strong yet cautious (like those with blue eyes).

Ophthalmologist Surgeon Doctor Hamadi Kallel has gone over many of the research studies on the topic of eye color and says that people with green eyes “have an air of mystery and a quiet self-sufficiency. [They are] often unpredictable, but slow to anger… They are original, creative and perform well under great pressure.”

Now that you have read these descriptions, do you think yours is accurate? I think it is important to keep in mind that though these studies relate our eye colour to our personality traits, our life experiences are what really define who we are and how we react. Every day is a learning process, and who we were yesterday is not necessarily who we are today. Let us know in the comments what you think!

What Is Your Personality Type According To The Words You Use?

What Is Your Personality Type According To The Words You Use?

According to numerous studies, the words you use say a great deal about your personality! What exactly is your personality type based on the words YOU use? Let’s find out!


Bacterium that “Eats” Plastic Waste

The world’s oceans are filled with plastic. More than 5 million pieces of it are floating around, being eaten by fish and passed up the food chain. Every year, more than 100,000 marine animals and seabirds are killed by plastic waste.

bacteria eating plastic

Of the 342 million tons of plastic produced each year, a tiny fraction of it – about 14% – is recyclable.

That’s a lot of plastic, and it hasn’t even been around that long. If you’re older than 70, you’ve been around longer than plastic.

One particular plastic, PET, is considered a major environmental hazard because it’s so resistant to break down. In 2013, about 61 million tons of the super durable plastic was produced worldwide. Until now, the only thing known to degrade PET were rare fungi. But Japanese scientists have discovered a bacterium that that can break down PET completely into carbon dioxide and water. [1]

The bacterium, Ideonella sakaiensis, was found outside of a bottle recycling plant. The pathogen appears to have evolved a pair of enzymes it uses to break down PET.

The bacterium can almost completely break down a thin film of PET after 6 weeks at a temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the researchers, appendages from the cells might have secreted compounds that helped to dissolve the plastic.

The University of Hull’s Mark Lorch, who wasn’t involved in the study, wrote for The Conversation:

“You may think this is the rerun of an old story, as plastic-eating microbes have already been touted as saviors of the planet. But there are several important differences here. First, previous reports were of tricky-to-cultivate fungi, where in this case the microbe is easily grown. The researchers more or less left the PET in a warm jar with the bacterial culture and some other nutrients, and a few weeks later all the plastic was gone.”

But the bacterium is still struggling to break down PET, so it’s going to take more time and research before scientists can harness the power of Ideonella sakaiensis and use it to truly recycle plastics. Don’t start tossing stuff out of your car window just yet.

Study author Kenji Miyamoto of Keio University, explained:

“It’s difficult to break down highly crystallized PET. “Our research results are just the initiation for the application. We have to work on so many issues needed for various applications. It takes a long time.”

There’s also an important obstacle that needs to be overcome first.

Using bacteria to break down plastic could release molecules and compounds that could be harmful to the environment. But if Ideonella sakaiensis can’t be used in the environment, there is still potential for it to be used in the lab to create a synthetic substance that “eats” plastic. [2]

Despite plastic being relatively “young,” the researchers said the fact that one organism has already evolved the ability to consume it suggests that other microbes exist that can eat PET and other kinds of plastic, which could revolutionize the way we recycle waste.

Read more: http://naturalsociety.com/huge-discovery-bacterium-eats-plastic-waste-69978/#ixzz44JG3lOih
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American Doctors Are Killing Themselves and No One Is Talking About It

It’s estimated that at least 400 U.S. doctors kill themselves every year. Many are struggling with depression, anxiety, or addiction.
It’s estimated that at least 400 U.S. doctors kill themselves every year. Many are struggling with depression, anxiety, or addiction.

Greg Miday was a promising young doctor with a prestigious oncology fellowship in St. Louis. He spoke conversational Spanish, volunteered with the homeless, and played the piano as if he’d been born to it. He had rugged good looks, with dark wavy hair and a tall, athletic build. Everybody—siblings, patients, friends, nurses, professors, fellow doctors, and above all, his physician-parents—adored him.

On the evening of June 21, 2012, Greg drew a bath, lit candles, and put his iPod on speaker. He drank a copious quantity of vodka, and placed family photos on the ceramic ledge of the tub. At some point, he scribbled out a note that read:

“Dear Some,

My Family, I love you.
To others who have been good friends, I love you too.
This is just the end of the line for my particular train.
Earth wasn’t a particularly great place for me.
We’ll see what else is out there.
Will miss you all!
Am sorry for what it’s worth. Greg Miday.”

Greg Miday was a promising young doctor with a prestigious oncology fellowship in St. Louis. He spoke conversational Spanish, volunteered with the homeless, and played the piano as if he’d been born to it. He had rugged good looks, with dark wavy hair and a tall, athletic build. Everybody—siblings, patients, friends, nurses, professors, fellow doctors, and above all, his physician-parents—adored him.

Then he climbed into the warm water and with surgical skill, punctured the arteries carrying blood to his hands and feet.

His parents called the next morning, but got no answer. Frantic, they reached his landlady, who summoned the St. Louis police after she heard music playing from the apartment but could not get Miday to open the door.

St. Louis police found the body. He was 29 years old.

Miday was one of a growing number of doctors who die by suicide each year. While no organization collects official data on physician suicides, Pamela Wible, a family medicine doctor in Eugene, Oregon, who writes about the phenomenon, says that at least 400 doctors kill themselves annually. That’s the size of an entire medical school class.

Wible believes that the numbers are higher than that, since doctors close ranks around each other and prod coroners to rule the cause of doctor deaths as “unplanned”—even when they are obviously not. “Accidental overdoses?” Wible asks. “You’ve got to be kidding me. Doctors calculate doses for a living.”

 Because doctors have the knowledge of anatomy as well as access to lethal doses of drugs, they have a far higher suicide “completion” rate than the general population. A 2005 essay published in JAMA found that male doctors killed themselves at a rate 70 percent higher than other professionals; among female doctors, that rate ranged from 250 to 400 percent higher.

“Unfortunately,” says Bradley Hall, a Bridgeport, West Virginia, addiction medicine physician, “suicide is one thing doctors are pretty good at.”

The little-noticed, little-discussed trend has enormous implications. Since the average annual caseload of most family doctors is roughly 2,300 patients, 400 physician deaths could mean that a million Americans lose their doctors to suicide each year.

There are many theories about why so many doctors kill themselves. They face the pressures of “assembly-line medicine,” merciless scheduling demands, fights with insurance companies, growing regulations, and an explosion in scientific literature with which their knowledge must remain current. Their debt burdens often total hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they work in constant fear of malpractice suits.

Internists routinely screen their patients for depression and anxiety—it’s considered the standard of care for an annual physical. But doctors, Wible says, must live up to a different set of standards. In medical school, professors teach their driven young students to put their own emotions aside, even as they attend to tragedy. “In general, we’re in a profession that will shun you if you show weakness or suffering in any way,” she says.

But the taboo on discussing mental illness in medicine is beginning to waver. Wible’s 2014 “Medscape” story on doctor suicide had more than 100,000 readers and attracted 800 comments, the most in the website’s 20-year history. In a related article, she recounted the story of a retired surgeon whose medical school professor told his students that if they decided to commit suicide, they should do it right. He then provided detailed instructions.

Small wonder, then, that many medical students report being depressed but consider it a weakness to ask for help themselves. One study found that only 22 percent of medical students who screened positive for depression sought help from a therapist, and that only 42 percent of those who had suicide ideation received treatment.

Instead, many self-medicate. About 9 percent of the U.S. population suffers from an alcohol- or substance-use disorder. Among doctors, that figure is between 10 to 15 percent.

In most states, doctors must disclose a mental health diagnosis or treatment history when applying for or renewing their medical license. A 2011 Current Psychiatry article notes that medical boards increasingly ask applicants about their mental health.

“Acknowledging a history of mental health or substance abuse treatment triggers a more in-depth inquiry by the medical board,” wrote Dr. Robert Bright, a psychiatry professor at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona. “The lack of distinction between diagnosis and impairment further stigmatizes physicians who seek care and impedes treatment.”

Family Handout

Doctors who acknowledge problems with substances or mental health are typically referred to a physicians health program, or PHP. These organizations evaluate, monitor, and treat physicians. Established initially in the 1970s, PHPs, which exist in almost every state, were intended to divert physicians suffering from alcohol or drug problems from censure from their state medical boards. PHPs are incorporated as nonprofits and have autonomy from the boards. But some PHPs breach confidentiality if they fear a doctor is a danger to the public. And some state medical boards also fund their PHPs. Since the boards hold the keys to licensure, many  say this is a conflict of interest.

There are growing concerns about whether PHPs have the right approach to the job. They typically send doctors to rehab programs rooted in the faith-and-abstinence principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. While AA’s 12 steps might work for some with alcohol-use disorders, critics say most PHP recommendations are ill suited for patients with mental health problems.

J. Wesley Boyd, a Harvard psychiatrist who left his post as assistant director of the Massachusetts PHP over a disagreement about practices there, says PHPs routinely intimidate their clients. In an article he co-wrote for the Journal of Addictions Medicine in 2012, Boyd noted that many doctors who seek or are referred by colleagues for treatment are mandated to attend pre-selected rehabilitation facilities for 60 to 90 days. Afterward, they must agree to monitoring and drug testing, typically at their own cost. When doctors resist PHP recommendations, they risk losing their livelihood and their licenses.

The last night of his life, Greg Miday was fearful that authorities at the Missouri PHP, which in 2009 had ordered him to 90 days in a 12-step rehab and five years of random drug tests, would make drastic sanctions after he had failed at their forced plan of abstinence.

For almost three years, Miday had worked hard to square his intellect with what AA calls “this simple program.” Its slogans urge members, “Don’t Think. Don’t Drink,” and its literature warns that those unable to follow the 12 steps are “constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.” But like the vast majority of ordinary Americans who try it, Miday couldn’t make the program stick. In The Sober Truth, a 2014 book that examined the 12-step rehab industry, Lance Dodes, a retired Harvard psychiatrist, reported AA’s success rate to be between 5 and 10 percent.

Suicide, of course, is never rational, and those who can best explain their decision are no longer here. But on the night of June 21, 2012, the choices before Miday seemed unbearable. His mother is convinced the prospect of getting his license suspended—or worse—was too devastating to contemplate.

“When you threaten doctors with the loss of everything they’ve worked so hard for, what do you think it’s going to do?” asks his mother, Karen Miday, a psychiatrist. “It’s going to make them feel like they have no way out.”

She pauses for a second. “I treat severely depressed people all the time, but they don’t go out and kill themselves.”

Greg Miday was born with talent, wit, sensitivity, and passion—and it all seemed to appear early. At age 7, the future doctor took special note of how Claude Monet’s physical limitations—cataracts—dimmed the artist’s genius. In second grade, he greeted each new page of his journal as if it were an old friend. “Hello,” the entries begin. He observed the fluctuating stock market, condemned Saddam Hussein for invading Kuwait, lamented the rise in gas prices, and described Monet’s new style of painting as “mostly smudges.”

At Walnut Hills, Cincinnati’s most academically rigorous public high school, Miday was salutatorian, mastering science and piano competitions. He breezed through his AP courses, often tutoring those with lesser gifts, and completed the New York Timescrossword puzzle each day. But his external successes seemed no match for his self-doubt and anxiety. He quit tennis when others surpassed him, and he could be bitingly condescending to his family and closest friends. Late in high school, his doctor prescribed him an antidepressant.

At Northwestern University, Miday balanced his art history major with pre-med classes, graduating with a near-perfect GPA in just three years. Between his long hours studying, his mother says, he would unwind with alcohol. He often drank to excess, but that didn’t differentiate him from many other college students. “He liked drinking,” Karen says. “It gave him confidence. He loved being the life of the party.”

But it gave him another sensation, too. He told his father, Bob Miday, a research physician, that his brain didn’t “feel normal” until after his second drink.

Greg rendered his unease in a university art class self-portrait, transforming his chiseled features and easy smile into the tormented expression reminiscent of Munch’s lonely figure in “The Scream.” With blazing eyes, a furrowed brow, and his mouth open in an anguished cry, Miday looks as if he is facing a brutal enemy.

At Ohio State medical school, Miday breezed through his classes and labs. By his third year in 2007, he spent much of his weekends binge drinking. He also used cocaine, and his roommates grew so concerned about his habits they reported his behavior to the dean. Miday was ordered to attend an outpatient alcohol treatment program based on Alcoholics Anonymous.

AA serves as the foundation for the majority of alcohol treatment programs in this country even though many newer, science-based approaches have been shown more effective in treating alcohol problems. One expansive review of the literature found little to inspire confidence in AA’s approach. “No experimental studies unequivocally demonstrated the effectiveness of AA or TSF [12-step facilitation] approaches for reducing alcohol dependence or problems.”

Miday kept his grades up and flourished outside the classroom, too. That spring, he signed up to participate in the school talent show by playing “Moonlight Sonata,” practicing the allegro portion so forcefully he sometimes bloodied his fingers. He worked hard to stay sober, drawing support from a mentor and medical school professor who had struggled with alcohol himself.

After his 2008 medical school graduation, Miday left Ohio for a residency at Washington University in St. Louis. The move coincided with his mentor’s apparent—but hushed—suicide. Miday took the news fatalistically. “You either work the program, or die,” he told his parents, repeating one of AA’s maxims.

Family Handout

But several months later, he began drinking and using cocaine again. In 2009, his behaviors raised enough alarm that a hospital colleague reported Miday to the Missouri physician health program.

Miday spent three months at an Illinois rehab facility that he later described to his parents as hellish. He agreed to abstain from alcohol for five years, during which he would submit to random alcohol tests at his own cost.


Read more : http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/03/23/american-doctors-are-killing-themselves-and-no-one-is-talking-about-it.html?source=TDB&via=FB_Page

Dot your eyes – Easy Beauty Tips Every Woman Should Know

Dot your eyes

“I have the least steady hands on the planet, but I love the way my eyes look when they’re tightly lined. I’ve learned to hold a liquid-liner marker pen horizontally, so I’m using the broader side of the tip instead of the fine point, and press it into my lash line. This way I can line my eyes in three to four quick stamps instead of trying to draw a straight line—which is nearly impossible!”—Lara Ramos, The Glossarie.


How I survived the LCHF diet by drinking strawberry cheesecake smoothies and eating lemon cheesecake

Wow these recipes can carry you through the dark days of an exacting no-sugar, no-carbs regimen.

ketolemoncheesecake_759_Deepti UnniKeto lemon cheesecake — where you sacrifice the carbs for the fat. I was never a diet faddist. As a skinny child and twiggy adult, I was a firm believer in the live-to-eat school of thought. A miraculous metabolism meant that I could stuff my face with upwards of 3,000 calories a day and have nothing to show for it except for a small burp. Until my mid-20s, I weighed a meagre 48kg that sat comfortably on my 5’5″ frame.

Then life, and my body, caught up. And the payback was brutal. My metabolism slowed, and even though I’d begun watching what I eat, my weight ballooned. Out went the snacking and fried food, KFC and McDonald’s, but my waistline didn’t get the memo. By early 2016, I weighed a whopping 70kg, and I began to really feel every gram of that weight. Something had to be done, and, since I’m L-A-Z-Y, that something was not exercise. Instead, I decided that it would be a diet that would save me.

 With diets, it’s hard to know where to start. The Internet is chock-full of ideas that range from the batshit – the master cleanse, a 10-day lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper diet – to the downright dangerous, such as death-dealing diet pills. After much research, I found my diet soulmate, thanks to a gif that chronicled a woman’s incredible weight-loss journey. I’d chanced upon the LCHF (low carb, high fat) diet.

At its simplest, in an LCHF diet, you restrict the amount of carbs you eat so your body turns to burning fat for energy, which I had a plentiful supply of. I could eat all the butter, ghee, olive oil, coconut oil, cheese and bacon I wanted. Bacon! On a diet! I could eat pretty large portions of meat. I was sold. What I couldn’t eat was any form of sugar or starch. Bye-bye, rice, potatoes, chapattis, dosas, sandwiches, chips, chocolate cake, biryani, croissants, pizza, colas, beer. I mean, how hard could it be?

But carbs are insidious buggers. No, really, think of three breakfast dishes (that aren’t egg) that are carb free. Lunch? Dinner? Suddenly, I was thinking of food every waking minute, planning my next meal. The induction days were the worst. As your body uses up all the stored carbs and begins to transition into ketosis, the fat-burning stage, you begin to experience flu-like symptoms — headaches, nausea, the sniffles. They go away soon enough, but then the sugar withdrawal hits. And you turn into a raving monster. Your mood swings between deep depression and homicidal mania. Your colleagues begin to look like cake slices. Your neighbour resembles a macaron.

In those first few days, in desperation, I turned to the Internet for recipes. I tried Bulletproof coffee, a scintillating mix of coffee, butter and coconut oil that’s more automotive lubricant than breakfast. Chia pudding seemed really popular with the Keto crowd. It involved dumping spoonful of chia seeds in coconut milk, adding a bit of cocoa powder and artificial sweetner, and waiting for it to all come together. It’s great, if you enjoy chocolate-flavoured snot. Another recipe for “fat bombs” (Speed up metabolism! Support your thyroid! Boost your energy!) suggested putting peanut butter, coconut oil and cocoa in a muffin tin and freezing it. Now, I’m a Mallu, but there was no way I was going to be nibbling on frozen coconut oil for a snack.

The diet had one thing going for it, though. Proteins and fats are the satiating elements of food, so you were never hungry, which helped stave off cravings. Even so, by week two of ketosis, the diet had invaded my dreams. I’d wake up in a cold sweat from nightmares of being chased by giant slices of pizza. Sometimes the dreams were vivid, like the time I dreamt I ate a ham sandwich, and could actually taste the sandwich when I woke up. Cheat days were impossible, because it kicked my body out of ketosis and it took a good week to get back into the diet. I stopped going out with friends, because it was so hard to find something to eat on a normal restaurant menu. Within a month I was carb-less, friendless…weightless?

The truth, though, was that it completely worth the pain. In a month I’d dropped 3kg, in two, seven. I felt healthier, more mentally active than I had in a decade. Gone were the constant hunger pangs, the need to shovel chips and processed foods into my mouth every evening. I was calmer, happier and more energetic than I could ever remember being. And, for all those who howled “Cholesterol!” and “Heart disease!” at me, turns out my HDL, that’s the good cholesterol, improved dramatically while my LDL fell.

In six months I’ve dropped 13kgs, with two more to go to hit my target weight of 55kg. And in the meantime, I’ve developed recipes to carry me through the dark days, like a spectacular strawberry cheesecake smoothie that’s full of good fats and a guiltless keto cheesecake with a coconut and almond flour base that could take on a real cheesecake any day. Will I be able to sustain this diet forever? Probably not. Will I go back to eating processed crap like I used to? No. I know I won’t be able to help the occasional slip, but it’s nice to know I can go back to ketosis any time, like a good friend I can depend on to look out for me.

strawberrysmoothie_759_Deepti UnniA strawberry cheesecake smoothie. You can make this low-cal by skipping the cream cheese. STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE SMOOTHIE

100g – Strawberries, hulled
50g – Cream cheese
250g – Yogurt or kefir
2 tbsp – Stevia

* Add the strawberries, cream cheese, yogurt/kefir and stevia in a blender.
* Blitz until well-combined.
* Serve chilled.
Note: For a lower-cal version, skip the cream cheese.


1 cup – Coconut flour
1/2 cup – Almond flour
50g – Butter
1 pkg (226g) – Philadelphia cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup – Yogurt
1/2 cup – Double cream
Juice of 1 lemon
1 – Egg

* Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C.
* To make the base, combine the coconut and almond flour.
* Melt the butter, then add it to the flour mix till it’s fully moistened.
* Spread the flour and butter mix on the bottom of a well-greased 7” cake tin.
* Put the tin in the oven to toast the base for about 10 minutes, till it turns golden-brown.
* Take it out and leave to cool.
* For the cheesecake, whisk the cream cheese till smooth.
* Add the egg and whisk until combined.
* Add the yogurt, cream, lemon juice and whisk until you get a smooth mixture.
* Pour mixture into the cake tin and bake till the sides are set but the centre in still jiggly, about 40 minutes.
* Turn off the heat and leave the cheesecake in the oven for about 30 minutes.
* Take it out and chill it for at least four