A Facebook friend recently posted a link to an article touting turmeric as a miracle drug. Fortunately my friend Jack is a scholar as well as a retired physician, and he sent me this link, which addresses the claims:
Conclusion... As with so many supplements, the hype has gone way beyond the actual evidence. There are some promising hints that it may be useful, but there are plenty of promising hints that lots of other things “may” be useful too. Since I have no rational basis for choosing one over another, I see no reason to jump on the turmeric bandwagon. On the other hand, I see no compelling reason to advise people not to use it, as long as they understand the state of the evidence well enough to provide informed consent and know that they are essentially guinea pigs in an uncontrolled experiment that makes no attempt to collect data. I will keep an open mind and stay tuned for further evidence in the form of well-designed clinical studies in humans.
My take: very little downside risk (if you like the flavour, or at least don't mind it) and some possible upside benefits.
Also see this from Wikipaedia:
Curcumin ... is the principal curcuminoid of turmeric, which is a member of the ginger family.
A survey of the literature shows a number of potential effects under study and that daily consumption over a 3-month period of up to 12 grams were safe. However, several studies of curcumin [EE: the active ingredient in turmeric] efficacy and safety revealed poor absorption and low bioavailability.
As of June 2015, there were 116 clinical trials evaluating the possible anti-disease effect of curcumin in humans, as registered with the US National Institutes of Health, including studies on cancer, gastrointestinal diseases and cognitive disorders.
Preliminary research has found that curcuminoid binds to amyloid proteins associated with Alzheimer's disease. Because curcumin increases fluorescent activity after it binds to amyloid protein, curcumin is being studied as a possible identifier. Tests have detected amyloid proteins in human eyes, offering the possibility that simple eye exams could provide early detection of the disease.
Also, it is likely that if there are health benefits from consuming turmeric, they are more likely present in pure turmeric, not curry powders. See this. Excerpts from the abstract:
Curcumin, derived from the rhizome curcuma longa, is one of the primary ingredients in turmeric and curry powders that are used as spices in Middle Eastern and Asian countries, especially on the Indian subcontinent. More recently, laboratory studies have demonstrated that dietary curcumin exhibits various biological activities and significantly inhibits colon tumorigenesis and tumor size in animals. Curcumin displays both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, giving it the potential to be considered in the development of cancer preventive strategies and applications in clinical research. Experimental studies have shown the biological activities of the compound, but much more information on pharmacokinetics, bioavailability, and food content are needed. ... Pure turmeric powder had the highest curcumin concentration, averaging 3.14% by weight. The curry powder samples, with one exception, had relatively small amounts of curcumin present, and the variability in content was great. ... [emphasis added]
And, finally, Andrew Weil's advice concerning Turmeric and curcumin, posted four years ago.
Other studies of turmeric and curcumin have shown the following benefits:
- Turmeric extract worked as well as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug for treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee in a study published in the August 2009 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
- Laboratory studies suggest that curcumin acts as a weak phytoestrogen and seems to have cancer protective effects.
- Lab studies have also shown that curcumin induces programmed death of colon cancer cells, and clinical trials are investigating the use of curcumin in treatment of colon cancer.
- Curcumin suppresses microinflammation in the GI tract associated with inflammatory bowel disease.
I frequently recommend turmeric supplements, and I believe whole turmeric is more effective than isolated curcumin for inflammatory disorders, including arthritis, tendonitis, and autoimmune conditions. Take 400 to 600 milligrams of turmeric extracts (available in tablets or capsules) three times per day or as directed on the product label. Look for products standardized for 95% curcuminoids. Neither curcumin nor turmeric taken orally is well absorbed unless taken with black pepper or piperine, a constituent of black pepper responsible for its pungency. When shopping for supplements, make sure that the one you choose contains black pepper extract or piperine. (If you're cooking with turmeric, be sure to add some black pepper to the food.). Be patient when taking turmeric supplements: the full benefits may not be apparent for eight weeks.
After Colorado legalized possession, sale, etc. of marijuana, it was clear that both the supply curve and the demand curve would shift to the right.
But which would shift farther? Would the influx of visitors, coupled with increased purchases by domestic buyers lead to such a massive increase in demand that prices would rise? Or would the relatively easy production lead to a large increase in supply, causing the price to drop?
It turns out supply increased more than demand, despite "marijuana tourism" (see this).
[P]rices are declining faster than some had expected, while the number of people visiting the stores has increased. ...
Since last June, the average price of an 1/8th ounce of recreational cannabis has dropped from $50-$70 to $30-$45 currently; an ounce now sells for between $250 and $300 on average compared to $300-$400 last year. [emphasis in the original] More competition and expansion of grow facilities contributed to this price decline ...
According to the note, sales increased by 98 percent year-over-year in April....
Meanwhile, the popularity of legal weed has sparked a fast-growing industry that ... compares to Silicon Valley.
Yes, I am scheduled to have another colonoscopy. Here's the help I need:
What should I write on my butt cheeks as a message for the physician?
One grand has suggested "Kiss this". Another possibility might be "Will you respect me in the morning?" But likely neither of these will do. Both are too long.
Please keep in mind that I will probably have to write this myself (Ms Eclectic has made it very clear that she will not help), so it will have to be short, and it will have to be easy to write sideways using a mirror.
Maybe I'll put a message on a post-it and tape it on my butt cheek. How about "Open Here"? or "Lift Tab to Open"?
And, no, I will not be posting photos.
Maybe I'll take a voice recorder with me to protect myself from this.
I gladly admit to experiencing geriatric alcophilia*.
Until the past ten years or so, I drank very little alcohol. Over the past decade, though, I have become increasingly enamoured of my tipples. What is more, I have actually become something of a snob about scotch whiskies to the extent that I know a bit about some and a lot about the few I like.
It seems that "geriatric alcohol abuse" has become a noted and studied problem, (see this, but I cannot find an ungated version). Here is the abstract:
Alcohol use disorder in the geriatric population is a growing public health problem that is likely to continueto increase as the baby boomer generation ages. Primary care providers play a critical role in the recognitionand management of these disorders. This concise review will focus on the prevalence, risk factors, screening, and clinical management of geriatric alcohol use disorder from a primary care perspective.
Once old people retire, they have less to do and less to worry about. It is very easy to sit around and have a few drinks. There was a famous person in a town where I once lived who was past retirement age, and the prevalent story there was that the couple got drunk every night and then had shouting matches. I have no idea if it's true, but I understand the drinking part.
I don't think I abuse alcohol. I talk about scotch a lot, but I average only about 3 fl oz per day. Of course, that's 3 fl oz more than I used to drink.
The thing is, I like it and I look forward to it. Also, it's a part of the togetherness that Ms Eclectic and I share. And I expect that happens with many members of the <90 demographic cohort.
*Note: alcophilia denotes a fondness for alcohol. I am indebted to my older friend, Jack, for this term.
Two and a half years ago, Ms Eclectic was put on Crestor. After only a month or two, she went off it because she felt as if she was suffering from drug-induced fibromyalgia. Shortly after that, our family physician put me on Crestor. I acquiesced, but with some concerns (see this). After experiencing horrendous side effects (see this) I stopped.
A few months ago, Ms Eclectic was put back on a statin, this time Lipitor. Increasingly she experienced painful and other side effects.
I gather these side effects are common, especially in our demographic cohort. For example see this [via Jack]. The money quote from the piece is,
...on the one hand, the results showed "tremendous" potential health benefits to be gained including far fewer heart attacks. On the other hand, potential side effects that may have particular consequences in the elderly - including muscle pain and weakness or mild declines in cognitive function - could offset those gains.
In our case, we are both convinced that the known, experienced side effects do more-than-offset the probabilistic gains.
After experiencing what I went through and after seeing what Ms Eclectic is going through, I'd rather risk heart disease, thank you very much.We simply cannot imagine going through the rest of our lives with these side effects. We are both somewhat risk averse, but not so much that we are willing to put up with known painful side-effects to reduce the chances that we might soon have some sort of heart problems.
Meanwhile, here's hoping there are other medications that are on the way to help others (indeed, our family physician has put Ms Eclectic on a non-statin prescription [Ezetimibe]; here's hoping it works and has at most few and minor side effects).
A number of years ago I had some kidney stones. (photo on the right). The urologist said it was because I hadn't stayed properly hydrated when I was hiking, especially, but also in general. So I drink a lot nowadays. I have had no problems and no indications of any problems since then.
Here's the current FB meme about drinking water:
Some days when I know I'll be staying up later, I add another Coke Zero or Diet Dr. Pepper during the afternoon. And some days I have a second cup of coffee in the morning.
This is just a rough sketch. When we eat in restaurants, I drink a lot of water with my meals. And sometimes I drink wine. Mostly white wine for me (Note how Ian Klymchuk often makes fun of this preference).
My announcement of my decision to go alcohol free for 60+ hours led to considerable comment in email and on Facebook. It seems very likely I'll have made it for more than 70 hours before I finally can settle down with a wee dram of scotch this evening.
Meanwhile, here is another article that Jack sent. It seems very sensible.
Four warning signs that you may be dependent on alcohol
- Worrying about where your next drink is coming from and planning social, family and work events around alcohol.
- Finding you have a compulsive need to drink and finding it hard to stop once you start.
- Waking up and drinking – or feeling the need to have a drink in the morning.
- Suffering from withdrawal symptoms, such as sweating, shaking and nausea, which stop once you drink alcohol.
I have had none of the above. My going alcohol-free was more to check to make sure I don't have those signs.
The article continues,
Staying in control
Drinking within the lower risk guidelines will help you keep your drinking under control. Here are three ways you can cut back:
- Try alternative ways to deal with stress. Instead of reaching for a beer or glass of wine after a hard day, go for a run, swim or to a yoga class, or a talk to a friend about what’s worrying you.
- Keep track of what you’re drinking. Your liver can't tell you if you're drinking too much, but MyDrinkaware can. It can even help you cut down.
- Give alcohol-free days a go. If you drink regularly, your body starts to build up a tolerance to alcohol. This is one of the main reasons why many medical experts recommend taking regular days off from drinking to ensure you don't become addicted to alcohol. Test out having a break for yourself and see what positive results you notice.
It is interesting and purely coincidental that I decided to take a short break from alcohol. Even more interesting and coincidental is that Jack decided to do so, too, at about the same time even when we had not communicated about our decisions until yesterday.
I have had several friends extol the marvels of meditation, urging me to try it. I tried it a week or so ago, but I find it really difficult not to think about whatever it is I might be considering for the day or week or month, etc.
This article in WaPo suggests it may be worthwhile giving it a better, more thorough try.
We found differences in brain volume after eight weeks in five different regions in the brains of the two groups. In the group that learned meditation, we found thickening in four regions:
1. The primary difference, we found in the posterior cingulate, which is involved in mind wandering, and self relevance.
2. The left hippocampus, which assists in learning, cognition, memory and emotional regulation.
3. The temporo parietal junction, or TPJ, which is associated with perspective taking, empathy and compassion.
4. An area of the brain stem called the Pons, where a lot of regulatory neurotransmitters are produced.
The amygdala, the fight or flight part of the brain which is important for anxiety, fear and stress in general. That area got smaller in the group that went through the mindfulness-based stress reduction program.
The change in the amygdala was also correlated to a reduction in stress levels.
The doctor interviewed for this article recommends getting a teacher for meditation. The problem I have with this is that I doubt if I will like or get along with any teachers. I wonder if there are any people in my area who tend toward being libertarians and who teach meditation. Failing that, I'll have to search for a good instruction set online. Any suggestions?
Update: at the same time, consider this.
[T]he treatment can itself trigger mania, depression, hallucinations and psychosis, psychological studies in the UK and US have found.
The practice is part of a growing movement based on ancient Eastern traditions of meditation.
However, 60 per cent of people who had been on a meditation retreat had suffered at least one negative side effect, including panic, depression and confusion, a study in the US found.
Once I reached my goal weight last month, of course I splurged and binged.
I knew I would.
I had DQ Blizzard, burger, and fries. Then we went to Houston to visit my son and his family, and I thoroughly enjoyed all the carbs we ate while we were there.
By the time we returned, I had gained 7 lbs. No problem, though. I've gone back on a very low-carb diet, dropped three of those 7 lbs already, and will be back at my goal again soon enough.
I gather yo-yo weight losses are generally not likely to be very healthy, but these variations are small. And I don't think I'd bother going on the low-carb diet if I couldn't enjoy these binges now and then.
My friend, Jack, is older than I am. He recently wrote
Old age survival is all about adaptation. Some start at a very high level of
function, and can ride for a while. But eventually the genetically programmed collapse of the critter cannot be denied.
I keep fighting this collapse, but every setback takes a tad longer to recover from, dammit.
Last Saturday night, during a scene in "Neville's Island", I twisted my ankle and sprained my knee as I took this pose atop some rocks (yes, those are my bare legs and knees... you'll have to come see the play to see the rest!):
I somehow made it through the rest of that performance and took a megadose Vitamin I (aka Ibuprofen) before leaving the theatre for the drive home.
For the Sunday matinee, I loaded up on Tylenol 3s and Diclofenac, wrapped my knee, and altered my blocking/movements during the play somewhat. Somehow I made it through the show, thanks to the help from Ms Eclectic along with everyone in the cast and crew.
Fortunately we have had Monday - Wednesday off. I have rested a lot, worn a knee brace much of the time, and continued my healthy eating and lifestyle (including lots of protein, fat, and vegetables, and, of course, scotch therapy).
I don't know what has happened, but by now (Wednesday), my knee and ankle seem to be almost completely back to normal. Yea! "It all comes from a clean, healthy lifestyle."
Neville's Island, Princess Avenue Theatre, Elgin Theatre Guild, St. Thomas, Ontario:
You can get tickets for Neville's Island via Bellsbookbin 519 878 4452 or by Paypal on Elgin Theatre Guild's website.
This is NOT from The Onion:
A [police] spokesman confirmed that officers had searched Banda’s home, though he denied it was a raid. He also said the initial anti-drug program was put on entirely by the school — the police had no involvement. At that event Banda’s son apparently contradicted some of the claims made about marijuana. The school then contacted the child protection agency, which then contacted the police. Officers from the department showed up at Banda’s at home and asked her permission to conduct a search. She refused. They then obtained a warrant and searched her home. The spokesman wouldn’t comment on exactly what was found, except to say that there was “evidence” of drug activity. Banda was then arrested and her son was seized from the home. Currently, there are no criminal charges against her. The spokesman wouldn’t comment on whether charges may be forthcoming. He added that possession of marijuana is illegal in Kansas, without exception.
The absurdity here of course is that a woman could lose her custody of her child for therapeutically using a drug that’s legal for recreational use an hour to the west. It seems safe to say that the amount of the drug she had in her home was an amount consistent with personal use. (If she had been distributing, she’d almost certainly have been charged by now.)
This boy was defending his mother’s use of a drug that helps her deal with an awful condition. Because he stuck up for his mother, the state arrested her and ripped him away from her. Even if he is eventually returned to his mother (as he ought to be), the school, the town, and the state of Kansas have already done a lot more damage to this kid than Banda’s use of pot to treat her Crohn’s disease ever could.
"Who could imagine that they would Freak-Out in Kansas?" [Frank Zappa]
No, this post is not about the weather. It is to announce that finally, after many ups and downs, I have reached my goal weight. Over 5 years ago I weighed nearly 205 lbs. I knew I was overweight and out of shape. I set my goal at 160 (I had weighed only 155 just 8 years previously).
I told myself I would not eat a Dairy Queen Blizzard (one of my favourite treats!) until I reached the goal. Today I reached that goal. I won't be able to get to a Dairy Queen for several days, but believe me, I'm going for a Skor Blizzard sometime soon.
Here is a graph of my weight for the past 61 months.
You can see all the bouts of lack of will power in the graph. The big start came from using weight-watcher/point-counting/calorie-counting. But I was hungry all the time on that diet and kept cheating and regained lots of weight.
The second half of the graph shows what happened under our modified version of a low-carb diet. We went on this diet in July, 2012.
I have not been nearly so hungry on this diet, I eat lots of fat, protein, and vegetables. I don't count calories, and I certainly don't try to avoid fat anymore.
I generally eat cheese or pepperettes as snacks. In restaurants, I sometimes order a pasta dish - hold the pasta, or burgers - no bun. I really have enjoyed this diet much more than any other diet I have been on.
Yes, I go off this diet frequently (as my Facebook friends know, one of my favourite hashtags is #carbsbedamned), but the neat thing about the low-carb diet is that when I go back on it, my weight goes right back down fairly quickly.
Exercise? I try to walk some, and I do some exercises now and then for my back, but overall I know I exercise less now than I used to. The weight loss is due to the diet change, not exercise.
The weight chart is from a smartphone app called "Lose It!". It's a good app in that it is no-charge, and it stores your data in the cloud so you can continue it as you change phones and platforms. I started it using an iPhone3 and kept it through all my various phone changes, including an android for two years.
For my earlier postings about this diet, see:
A few days ago, my weight was down to within 2/10 of a pound of reaching my goal weight. That's right, I was 0.2 lbs away from my goal!
So what did I do?
Eat a truckload of pizza. Not only that, but I ordered more than enough for our family so that I have enough for huge breakfasts the next few days.
That has been the story of my dieting.... lose some weight, binge on carbs, lose some weight, binge on carbs, etc. But I'm still more than 40 lbs lighter than I was 5 years ago.
Leftover pizza for breakfast!!!! Yea!!!
As people continue to have rising life expectancies, and as the medical costs of caring for older people continue to dominate health-care expenses, health care programmes could be in BIG trouble if they aren't revised. I have written about this before (see this and the links there), but this cartoon captures the problem (via Jack):
For more on the unsustainability of Ontario's health care system, see this.
... [I]n health care, by far the most important and costly service, Canada is the only country that forbids competing with the public system. A 2014 Commonwealth Fund Report found the performance of Canada’s monopoly health-care system ranked well behind Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K. And a 2013 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report found that, despite spending 36 per cent more per capita than the OECD average, Canada has the longest wait times for elective surgery.
More evidence that a bit of whisky/whiskey helps promote health. The caveats appear after this quoted section:
There's no real cure for the common cold, but a little bit of whiskey (that's a little bit, we said) could offer some relief.
The classic hot toddy, typically made of whiskey, honey, lemon juice and hot water, can subdue the injustices of your inevitable winter cold. The hot water of the toddy helps to relieve nasal congestion, just like heat of a bowl of chicken noodle soup (or Jewish penicillin) does.
And the whiskey helps with sniffle issues, too. “The alcohol dilates blood vessels a little bit, and that makes it easier for your mucus membranes to deal with the infection,” Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told ABC News.
As a followup to my recent post about how standards of living have dramatically improved over the past few decades (despite what some people might try to tell you), here are some very interesting data about life expectancies of various age groups in various countries grouped by country income [via JR, my favourite drug dealer]:
Over the 40-year time span for which these data were collected, death rates fell for every age group in every country grouping, regardless of their income levels.
Surely improved health care and increased life expectancy are signs of a generally improved standard of living, and these results hold (in general) throughout the world for high- and low-income nations alike.
Over the past few months, the C.D. Howe Institute has published a number of studies outlining the fiscal difficulties (or crises!) facing Canada's provinces over the next few decades. The problem, neatly put, is that as more people age and as more medical procedures become technically feasible, the demands on the health care system will become much greater than can be supported by current and projected revenue streams.
In terms of the graph below, picture the demand curve shifting to the right much faster than the supply curve does, exacerbating the problem of excess quantity demanded:
and the problem is there, in varying degrees for each province. A summary of the C.D. Howe studies is here, along with links to their individual provincial studies.
Their studies refer to a "fiscal glacier".
Canada’s provinces face a common challenge in managing the rising cost of healthcare for an aging population, and ensuring that demographic change does not compromise other major government programs, manageable tax rates, and debt control. The challenge is not identical everywhere, however. Some provinces are aging faster than others, some are more vulnerable to age-related increases in spending than others, and some will see more robust growth of their tax base than others – so the urgency and appropriate responses differ across the country.
[T]he authors focus on each province in turn, starting with Ontario, projecting population growth and the impact of demographic change on government revenues and programs. They delineate the coming fiscal squeeze for each province and make recommendations on how each can prepare for it.
Raising taxes and broadening tax bases will most certainly be necessary if the provinces wish to maintain some superficial form of universal health care. But at the same time, policies must be considered that will reduce the quantities demanded (e.g. with co-pays) and increase the supply.
In Canada we have a health care system with devastatingly long wait times for many services. At a zero price, the quantity demanded greatly exceeds the quantity supplied. The standard supply and demand graph illustrating the problem:
Excess quantity demand at a zero price means the scarce goods and services must be allocated using some other mechanism. As often happens, queuing (waiting) becomes a common allocative mechanism. But people have incentives to try to jump the queue, thus leading to such practices as favouritism, side payments (implicit or otherwise), medical tourism, and death panels (i.e. bureaucratic rules and decisions about who should receive the goods and services).
When I first moved to Canada over 40 years ago, we had a reasonably workable health care system with very short wait periods, despite the gubmnt provision of health insurance. What was different then?
If these facts are even close to correct, there are several options for reducing wait times.
The suggestions I'm offering involve two things:
These two changes are shown here:
Admittedly the above figure is stylized. Nevertheless, the directions of the changes are correct and would greatly help reduce wait times for health care in Canada.
Recently the CDHowe Institute pubished studies (see this) about the fiscal glacier (their term) facing Saskatchewan and Alberta (and probably others). These suggestions that I'm offering will not do so much to help with the fiscal glacier. The first one might, but the second one would be costly.
A discussion with Facebook friends led to this pair of queries:
Some preferred contracting ebola, with the expectation they would be cured.
Others mentioned sizable alimony from Kim.
But some still said there are fates worse than death, and marriage to Kim would be one of those.
Some basic data from the WSJl [via Sean]:
For low-income workers, total pay and benefits rose by 41% from 1999 through 2006. But these workers’ wages increased only by 28%, barely outpacing inflation. The reason: Employer costs for these workers’ health costs nearly doubled, from 6.5% to 12.2% of compensation, and ate up money that could have gone toward salaries.
Now consider a worker who earns $250,000 or more a year. BLS data show that total compensation for these workers rose by 36% from 1999 through 2006. That’s actually less than for low-income workers. But the one-percenters’ health costs rose from just 4% of compensation in 1999 to only 4.3% in 2006.
It’s not that their health costs didn’t rise in dollars terms, it’s simply that health benefits are a much smaller part of their total pay and benefits. As a result, salaries for the one-percenters grew by 35%, a faster rate than for low-wage workers. The inequality of total compensation barely changed from 1999-2006, but rising health-care costs held back the growth of lower- and middle-class earnings.
There's much more in the original piece. Inequality likely has not increased over the years, and certainly has not increased as much as the strident redistributionists assert that it has.
I'll be giving a seminar at the University of Regina on "An Options Market for Human Organs" on October 3rd. Here is the abstract:
There is a chronic shortage of human organs for transplant. This shortage is largely the result of the failure to use market pricing in the face of a phenomenal increase in demand resulting in part from an aging population but more from the dramatic medical technology improvements during the past 50 years.
The shortage can easily be seen as an excess quantity demand over the quantity supplied at zero price. The naïve, simplistic solution is to allow markets in human organs to emerge with positive prices for the organs (and the transplant procedure).
But the market solution is fraught with difficulties, including the problem of killing a donor or, more commonly, who bears the risk when the probability of death of a live donor is increased. Also the transaction, negotiation, and legal costs associated with identifying a legal heir and working out a deal with them after a potential donor is killed can be ghoulish and daunting.
This paper presents an alternative: an options market for organs. Potential donors sign an irrevocable contract, receiving an upfront payment in exchange for their organs (should someone want them for transplant). Essentially, the purchaser buys an option of first refusal when the person dies.
It is expected that many of the buyers of these options would be life insurance companies who would most likely play a leading role in organizing the market.
The seminar is scheduled for 2:30 - 4pm in CL435.
I'm looking forward to seeing my friends in the economics department while I'm there (and, of course, playing with the Roughrider Pepband for the game that evening).
This story brought tears to my eyes [ht JAB]:
Way to go Bengals!
And way to go Devon Still! You have a long, tough road ahead of you.
- - - - - - - - -
As many long-time readers of EclectEcon will remember, a little over 3 years ago our granddaughter Lara was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma. Because of the amazing care from her parents and from the Anderson Cancer Clinic, Lara is cancer free now. But the first year of treatments was horrendous, and Lara was only 3 when she was diagnosed. Lara is an amazing little six-year-old who, like her parents, has a strength and determination that have stood her well.
Analogous to what happened with Devon Still, my son [Adam Smith Palmer] went to see his dean to explain that he was dropping out of grad school, despite having recently passed all his exams to pursue a PhD in astrophysics, to look after his daughter.
The Dean said [roughly paraphrased], "Don't drop out now. Wait until September. The university's health plan is much better than the one your wife has, and it will cover your daughter for another year."
Not the same as what the Bengals did, but similar.
There appears to be some evidence that the use of marijuana for pain relief leads to less opioid addiction and fewer deaths resulting from opioid overdoses.
According to an abstract published online this past week by JAMA Internal Medicine, the use of medical marijuana in states that have legalized the drug for prescription purposes have led to significantly lower opioid-overdose mortality rates. ...
Their findings showed that states which had medical cannabis laws in place over this time period (13 states in total, 10 of which enacted medical marijuana laws between 1999 and 2010) had, "a 24.8% lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without cannabis laws." In other words, when medical marijuana was an option for physicians to turn to, there were fewer opioid-abuse deaths.
As you can probably surmise by now, a nearly 25% reduction in opioid-induced mortality would likely translate into big savings for the healthcare system (although it's hard to know how much for sure, since the JAMA study didn't go into non-mortality specifics). ...
Perhaps the most attractive component of this past week's abstract was that the trend toward lowered opioid-induced mortality tended to increase as time went on.
In the first year following medical marijuana approval on a state level the rate of opioid-induced overdoses that led to death dropped by 19.9%. By the sixth year following the passage of medical marijuana laws, this reduction had increased to 33.3%. Secondary analyses of these findings confirmed the initial study.
Clearly I absolutely need a prescription for medical marijuana. But should I actually ever get a prescription, I will be looking more for good recipes for ingestion -- I'm not keen on smoking the stuff.
As I wrote before,
There are loads of healthy (and otherwise) recipes at The Stoner's Cookbook.
According to the Washington Post, couples who smoke marijuana are more mellow and less likely to engage in domestic violence [via JAB]:
A new study by researchers at the University of Buffalo finds a significantly lower incidence of domestic violence among married couples who smoke pot. "Couples in which both spouses used marijuana frequently reported the least frequent IPV [intimate partner violence] perpetration," the study concludes.
These findings were robust even after controlling for things like demographic variables, behavioral problems, and alcohol use. The authors studied data from 634 couples over nine years of marriage, starting in 1996. Couples were administered regular questionnaires on a variety of issues, including recent drug and alcohol use and instances of physical aggression toward their spouses.
The trouble is, smoking can lead to lung cancer. If you're going use marijuana, it's probably healthier to ingest it. There are loads of healthy (and otherwise) recipes at The Stoner's Cookbook.
If red wine has all these health benefits, then surely if I drink two glasses a day, I'd be saving my drug plan lots of money. It follows they should pay for my wine.
From the Daily Mail [via MA]:
[Dr William McCrae] claims the antioxidant properties of red wine have reduced the risk of a second heart attack in his patients by half - and the risk of a stroke by 20 per cent.
And the sight of the cardiologist pushing a trolley laden with 125ml glasses of cabernet sauvignon has become a familiar sight at Great Western Hospital in Swindon. ...
A small amount of alcohol reduces blood pressure and therefore lowers the risk of heart attacks and strokes, as well as relaxing anxious patients, he added.
The skins of certain red wine grapes, which are used in the fermenting process, are rich in flavonoids which are known to have health-boosting properties.
Red wine also helps keep the inner lining of blood vessels smooth, which also helps prevent blood clots.
Dr McCrea recommends health-conscious drinkers quaff red wines with the highest antioxidant concentrations, which tend to come from high altitudes - such as Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile and Shiraz and Pinot Noir from South Africa.
Younger wines are apparently better because older vintages lose their antioxidants in the barrel and corked wine is not recommended as the cork absorbs antioxidants.
Wine also has to be drunk soon after opening, as it loses its antioxidant properties with exposure to the air.
Over the adult years of my life, my weight has yoyo'd a couple of times between highs over 200 and lows near 150. I once figured I had gained and lost maybe 200 pounds or so as an adult.
But then I realized these weight gains and losses were not smooth; there have been ups and downs along the way, and actually I have probably gained and lost closer to 400 pounds.
"But wait. There's more."
During each day I gain and lose several pounds, depending on my diet and exercise. Those fluctuations alone mean I've probably lost and gained maybe 1000 pounds each year, over 40,000 pounds in my adult life.
It all reminds me of fractals and measurement. When measuring a coastline, the finer the measurement, the longer will be the measured length of the coastline. And similarly, when measuring weight changes the total variation will be much greater if measured every hour than it would be if measured just once a month.
Addendum: my latest weight loss success was motivated by my role in Academia Nuts, opening June 4th in the 2014 London Fringe Festival, in which I appear somewhat scantily clad in a brief scene.
Fortunately the options for gubmnt involvement in health-care provision include more than the just the US (pre- or post-Obamacare) or the National Health Service of the UK. [via Lydia and Jason]. There is much more here, but this graphic provides a good overview.
Last week, Jack sent me this link about the preventive health and aspirin [it is called ASA in Canada unless it is produced by Bayer]. This article seems to be a thorough summary of the literature.
I have been taking low-dose aspirin daily for about a decade because both my parents died of heart disease, but I had no idea that low-dose aspirin might also play a role in reducing the risk of some cancers.
From the conclusion,
The benefits of aspirin in secondary prevention of cardiovascular events are well established, with significant reductions reported in the risk of MI, stroke, and other serious vascular events in men and women.... Aspirin has been shown to reduce the overall risk for total cardiovascular events and nonfatal MI, but the evidence is not consistent regarding the risk for CHD, stroke, cardiovascular mortality, and all-cause mortality. There appear to be differences in the benefits for men and women; in men, it is associated with a reduction in MI and cardiovascular events, but not stroke and cardiovascular mortality. In women, aspirin treatment is associated with a reduction in the risk of ischemic stroke but not MI or cardiovascular mortality. Although the use of prophylactic low-dose aspirin for primary prevention of CVD is recommended in several clinical guidelines, there remains intense debate among experts about its value in low-risk populations due to the increased risk of GI and intracranial bleeding. Guidelines stress the importance of assessing the risks and benefits on an individual patient basis, and some experts argue that general guidelines are not justified. ...
There is a growing body of evidence for the benefits of aspirin in reducing the risk of cancer, most notably colorectal cancer, with the effect becoming clinically apparent after approximately 5 years. Several potentially relevant clinical trials are due to be completed between now and 2019, and these may clarify the extent of the benefits of aspirin in reducing the risk of cancer incidence and mortality. The chemopreventive benefits of aspirin appear to be long-term and the bleeding risk from aspirin use is short-term and appears to diminish over time. For most individuals the risk-benefit assessment appears to be weighted in favor of the anticancer benefits from aspirin. Although current data do not allow a definitive conclusion to be made about routine use of aspirin for cancer prevention, ongoing study findings make it more likely that recommendations for aspirin use in primary prevention will be broadened in the future so that the benefits of aspirin use are not restricted to CVD alone.
I.e., if you haven't had a heart attack, low-dose aspirin might help reduce the odds of having one, but the evidence is not overwhelming. Also it might help reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
JR sent this link, which seems slightly more skeptical:
Aspirin works to reduce events among patients who have a higher likelihood of having an event, and there remains an argument for aspirin in patients who are at exceptionally high risk but who have not yet had a heart attack or a stroke. This has led to some controversy in this issue, and varying interpretations. However the potential for aspirin to be beneficial in this group remains largely speculative, and the source article cited above examined even the highest risk patients who had not had a heart attack or stroke in trials, and there was no demonstrable benefit to aspirin even for these patients (though this subgroup was small in these trials).
And he also sent this link, which seems quite skeptical concerning the use of low-dose aspirin for primary care (i.e. as a preventive treatment for people who have not had previous incidents).
I carry uncoated aspirin with me all the time. One of the best things to do if you feel you might be having a heart attack is to take a couple of uncoated aspirins right away.