Monthly Archives: June 2014

Chobani Apologizes For Dissing Science

One day, you say that yogurt has nothing to do with science. The next, you have to suck it up and apologize. It happens to the best of us. When you’re a multi-million dollar corporation, you just happen to have a bigger audience when you do so. Everybody has had something to say since Chobani’s move to give yogurt back to nature.

Scientists were offended. Consumers were confused. It seemed that Chobani was trying to draw in consumers who demand natural foods. However, the definitions can be vague to say the least. The problem is that they went too far, and they didn’t seemingly understand natural as without artificial sweeteners, flavors, and preservatives. In short, it ignored the major science required to manufacture that small cup of Greek yogurt.

Savvy consumers it seems were smarter than Chobani expected. They were capable of understanding that they were being targeted by big business and the food industry. Regardless, a number of fans opted to set Chobani straight:

  • Goddess Demeter, whose dominion over agriculture is absolute, got @Chobani to 100 calories. Not your pitiful mortal science #howmatters
  • Dear @Chobani, As a natural products chemist, I can honestly say I love eating chemicals. #howmatters Cheers, @kzrt
  • If you wish to make Greek yogurt from scratch, you must first invent the universe #howmatters @Chobani

Chobani responded, We were too clever for our own good – didn’t intend to put down science or scientists with our recent lid. We discontinued it. #WordsMatter


New Breakthroughs In Lung Cancer Treatment 2014

We are constantly seeing new innovations in cancer treatment. Even in 2014, we don’t know everything about cancer, nor will we for a while. Recently, doctors have started sorting patients by their tumor gene profile, matching patients with the drug that is most likely to work for them with a number of different experimental drugs.

This study is the first of its kind, bringing together 5 different drug companies, the government, private donors and foundations, and advocacy groups. The FDA was the one to officially come up with the idea, and they have agreed to consider approving new studies based on this study.

The idea is to give those patients who are seriously ill a better chance, and more chances, to find drugs that will be effective for them. Rather than being tested for individual genes and trying to get into separate clinical trials, they can enroll in this larger study for full gene testing and multiple options all rolled into one. It’s no one size fits all approach like we’re used to.

Called Lung-MAP, this study is going over advanced cases of lung cancer and squamous cell. There are plans for treatments for breast and colon cancer. As Ellen Sigal, chairwoman and founder of Friends of Cancer Research, puts it, For patients, it gives them their best chance for treatment of a deadly disease. There’s something for everyone, and we’ll get answers faster.

Cancer treatments typically try to treat individual gene mutations meant to target one subtype of the disease, making it hard to get greater levels of success across the board. Researchers have to spend time and effort screening hundreds if not thousands of patients to get the right mutation that they are looking for, which makes studies inefficient and slow to produce future drug treatments. Dr. Roy Herbst, chief of medical oncology at the Yale Cancer Center, has gone through this, once screening 100 patients, finding 5 who might be eligible, and accepting only 2.

Study participants are scheduled to be screened for over 200 cancer related gene mutations as opposed to just one mutation as we’ve generally seen. They will then be signed to 1 of 5 separate groups based on their biomarker, and each group will be given an experimental medicine. Drugs can be added, subtracted, and adjusted in the course of the study, depending on how each one performs.

Initially, it will include Amgen, Genentech, Pfizer, AstraZeneca PLC, and AstraZeneca’s global biologics partner MedImmune. Up to 1000 patients per year may be included in the study, which will cost $150 million. The National Cancer Institute is currently dedicated to paying $25 million. The rest will be provided by foundations, charities, private donors, etc.

How Involved in Health Scams Is Dr Oz?

Testifying before Congress and under presssure, Dr. Mehmet Oz offered to help drain the swamp of unscrupulous marketers as he put it. For years, these marketers have used his name to push all sorts of health and weight loss supplements, miracle pills, cure-alls, etc. Oz was scolded by Chairman Claire McCaskill for claims he made about weight loss on the Dr. Oz Show, and to some degree for allowing his name to be used so roundly. His supporter, Oprah, has actually sued a number of companies to get her name and picture off those types of supplements.

Oz is a cardiothoracic surgeon, and he acknowledges that the way he describes green coffee and other supplements he supports is flowery at best. He has promised to put out a list of products he thinks can help us to shed pounds and get fit, though he has never specifically endorsed any one company, brand, or supplement. Companies who use those ingredients have just jumped on the opportunity.

In 2012, by flowery, we mean that Oz claimed that green coffee bean was a magic weight loss cure for every body type. McCaskill told Oz, I get that you do a lot of good on your show, but I don’t get why you need to say this stuff because you know it’s not true.

Dr. Oz has vowed to be more careful going forward, and he of course hopes that will be enough. He has long talked about supplements being used as magical cure-alls for weight loss and short-term crutches, and he claims he has even had his family try them to prove it. He wants to be a cheerleader for his audience, but does that really include giving patently false promises he knows are false to make money? Does that really mean eschewing science as a medical professional?

Within mere weeks of his proclamations about green coffee bean, a Florida based company immediately jumped on board to market a product called Pure Green Coffee with claims that the chlorogenic acid could help users to lose 17 pounds and cut away body fat by 16% in just 22 weeks. The company used footage of The Dr. Oz Show to sell it, and Oz has never received any money, nor does he have any association with the company. The FTC recently sued the makers of Pure Green Coffee, accusing them of bogus claims to deceive consumers.

Dr. Oz, much like many others, must realize that the weight loss industry is full of scams, and consumers are vulnerable to fraud. Oz has stressed that he has never promoted a particular supplement, but he has certainly opened the doors.

Oz says, If you see my name, face or show in any type of ad, email, or other circumstance, it’s illegal, certainly not something he has endorsed. But it makes you wonder why he has allowed so many companies to do it.

Red Meat May Contribute To Breast Cancer

Red meat has hit the spotlight again, and unfortunately for those lovers of the Paleo and other low carb diets, it’s not a good thing. The Nurses’ Health Study II has found that eating more red meat in early adulthood could actually be a risk for breast cancer.

They followed 88,000 women for 20 years, and in that time, they found that women who ate 1 1/2 daily servings of unprocessed red meat and processed red meat were at a 22% higher risk of breast cancer than those who had just one serving per week or less. Each daily serving increased the risk further by 13%.

However, if you substitute one serving per day with legumes, nuts, poultry, or fish like salmon (for example), you could lower your risk of developing breast cancer by 14%.

Of course, these studies do have their flaws. They rely on individuals to give reliable information about their daily diet plan, what they actually eat, etc. It’s not to say that people deliberately lie, but they do gloss over things. Human error is there when it comes right down to it. There may also be other factors being that it was an observational study that they haven’t actually ruled out or measured adequately.

Regardless, there are many things to be said about diet and its effects on your health. Diet and obesity have been found to have a substantial effects on all types of cancer before. It may be, for various reasons, that red meat does actually increase your risk for many things, including breast cancer.

How To Get Energy Without Caffeine

1. Give the Gadgets a Break

You may be trying to spread your mind around. You’re trying to do the normal stuff of course. But then you also find that you are trying to text, Google, check the news, check your stocks, etc. Realistically, you are stressing your mind out and spreading yourself way too thin. You can’t process that many things at once effectively, and you get spacey. So you actually end up doing less.

Give yourself one night a week where you put away your gadgets and just do things simply. Clean out your closet, clean your car, paint a dresser, or just sit and lay back to appreciate the stars. Appreciate life without all of the extra technology. Then appreciate how you feel that day and the morning after.

2. Take a Break

I can guarantee that you don’t always remember to step back and take a break from things that may stress you out. If you can step back and actually go for a walk or something, you could actually be more productive according to Adam Galinsky PhD, a business professor at Columbia University. Go for a 45 minute walk with 15 minute breathers, and you will improve your efficiency when you go back to work.

3. Inhale

Take a moment and sit back and inhale. Take in the smells and tastes of life, and ideally, make it a good smell. Studies show that those who inhale a mixed-floral smell can increase learning speed by 17%.

4. Walk Toward Mindfulness

From the sound of waves to the views from mountaintops to simple clouds if you can’t get out to those locations, you can meditate around the beauty around you. You can clear away the things that are holding you up and littering your mind. Research has shown that mindful meditation for just 30 minutes a day can change the brain structure. You can meditate wherever you may be, even if you’re just walking down the street. You can be in the here and now, and you can tune out distractions.

Facebook May Hurt A Woman’s Body Image

It’s a well established fact. It has been shown that when we see the images that have been severely photoshopped of paper thin models who seem ridiculously waify, it hurts. Of course, I will say that the impact of the mother is significantly greater, and parenting rules over what you see on TV. We can’t absolve ourselves of responsibility all the time. However, there is evidence that suggests that young women who spend a lot of time on Facebook feel more negatively about bodies than other young women.

Of course, this could be a chicken and egg scenario or correlation versus causation. But at the same point, it is something that is drawing some concern. As researcher Yusuf Kalyango, an associate professor of journalism at Ohio University puts it: The attention college women pay to physical attributes may be even more dangerous on Facebook than through traditional media because the impact is stronger when it’s people that they know, as opposed to celebrities. Online objectification and social comparison could trigger the development of body shame.

So in short, when it’s your friends that you can compare yourself too, they are more real. So their perfections compared to yours are more real and potent to you. I do agree that your friends could have a bigger impact, especially as you hit adolescence.

Kalyango and colleagues surveyed a total of 881 female college students in the Midwest about their Facebook use, body image, and dietary and exercise habits. This included researchers at the University of Iowa and the University of Strathclyde in Scotland. After their research, they concluded that the more time a woman was on Facebook, the more likely they were to have significant issues with their physical appearance and self esteem after seeing another woman’s photos. Those who were prone to low self esteem already suffered the greatest effect.

Kyle DeYoung, assistant professor of psychology at the University of North Dakota, specializes in eating disorders. He has found that social media simply gives young women more opportunities to obsess and feel inadequate when they are already appearance-conscious. So in short, correlation versus causation and chicken and the egg might be a little bit more complicated. According to DeYoung, It doesn’t take as much work to see these images now. I don’t think blaming social media is a worthwhile enterprise.

Social media can stoke body dissatisfaction and reinforce disordered eating. It can also empower individuals to use their voices and resist mainstream media messages about beauty and thinness.

Major Signs That You Are Stressed

Chances are, unless you’re totally tuned out of your world or you live in the perfect world, you are going to experience some stress. You are going to get impatient, take too much, or otherwise at some point, and in some cases, stress can be a good thing. But at some point, it goes overboard, and we often have trouble understanding when that line has been crossed. It can help you to conquer fears and achieve, but it can also break you down, and it can lead to many symptoms you would think of solely as physical disease. The question is, if you find that you have more stress than you would like, how do you address it? One of the first things is to figure out when you’re too stressed. Here are a few flags that may pop up and alert you:

  1. You’re always sick. You get over it and then you’re sick again, or you just can’t seem to get over it in the first place. Every week, you have a cough, a sore throat, a fever, or something else. You may be tempted to blame your coworker, that kid around the corner who is always over, or something. But according to Richard Colgan MD, professor of family and community medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, When we are under extreme pressure, our bodies secrete a stress hormone called cortisol that can help us short term.

    If you are constantly in a state of stress on the other hand with too much cortisol, it can wear on the body and take its toll on the immune system. As Keri Tuit, clinical psychologist at Yale University puts it, Stress can slow wound healing, contribute to the reactivation of latent viruses, and increase vulnerability to viral infections.

    So what do you do? You listen to your body. If you feel tired and drained, you make time for extra rest. If you have recently traveled, or if you’re finishing a big work project, take some you time. Give your body time to recover.

  2. You have trouble concentrating. You can get overwhelmed and then stressed, and you will have trouble focusing on what’s in front of you. This could lead out to basic things such as a coworker’s name. If you are feeling this way, you are likely overworked. Long term exposure leads to excess cortisol, which can shrink the hippocampus, where the brain’s memory center sits. Long term stress can actually increase the growth of proteins that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

    If you experience this type of issue, take a few deep breaths during the workday. Deep, even breathing not only affects whether or not our thoughts control us or we control them, but it also affects the bodily sensations that are experienced when faced with a high-stress situation said Tuit. Healthy breathing can help you to better control your heart rate, blood flow, and muscle tension.

  3. You have a constant headache that just won’t go away. If you have a throbbing or just pressure headache that doesn’t go away, there’s a good chance it’s a stress headache. Lifestyle could be to blame. If it feels like a migraine or the worst headache of your life, you may want to check out other possibilities like a tumor or migraines with your doctor. Regardless, a persistent headache that you can’t get rid of are good signs you might be more stressed.

    Dr Colgan says, When stress is the cause of your headache, the easiest thing to say is, have less stress in your life, but that advice itself is stressful. If you know where your headache is actually coming from can be helpful and effective in helping you to stop it.

  4. Your back and/or neck is always aching. Your shoulders, back, and neck can hold a lot of tension that you may not expect. If you always have knots built up in your neck, shoulders, and back, it could be caused by constant stress in your job or personal life. It’s not just about how you sit during the day. Dr. Colgan says, High levels of stress and tension create discomfort and muscle pain by tightening muscles and causing muscle spasms.

    If the back ache you are experiencing is related to an accident, that could be different. However, it could also be related to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Regardless, the National Institute of Health recommends talking to your doctor as you may have to deal with emotional issues to take care of your back pain.

    Some have used massages. Others have used relaxation techniques to reduce stress like yoga. Meditation may also be used. Try having regular breaks for this type of thing throughout the day.

  5. You have trouble sleeping. Dr Colgan says, If you find yourself wakening up and worrying or ruminating over things, it could be a sign of anxiety or depression. Sleep should be easy after a long day, and you should be ready to go to bed. Your mind should be able to turn off. If you are tired, but can’t quite fall asleep, you may be suffering from stress-related fatigue.

    If this is a regular occurrence, you may want to consider whether you need relaxation or something else. In extreme situations, your doctor may want to temporarily provide you with sleeping pills. Regardless, A tired body is not well prepared to cope with stressful situations and ward off illness according to Tuit.

  6. Your hair is falling out. This is of course an extreme example of what can happen, but it does happen. If your hair is falling out, you could be suffering from normal male pattern baldness or a nutrient deficiency. However, it could also be stress or a medical condition called alopecia areata. The body’s immune system may start to attack the hair follicles, and this would cause small, round patches of hair loss on the scalp. Dr Colgan says, It’s not dangerous, but it’s likely to be associated with a severe stressor, like an assault or significant traumatic event in one’s life. It’s also more common in women or adolescent girls.

    This is something that typically passes. It’s temporary and your hair will grow back. Don’t be afraid to get involved in stress therapy, or your doctor may also recommend injectable scalp steroids to help with hair growth. It’s best if you have an examination just to make sure you have the right diagnosis.

  7. You keep getting UTIs. If you’ve ever been in a situation where you don’t get up for a bathroom break, you’re stuck in a long meeting, etc, you could put yourself at a greater risk for urinary tract infections. When people are under increased stress or working too hard, they sometimes put off going to the bathroom, but that’s one of the biggest risk factors for a UTI.

    Give yourself the chance to go to the bathroom. Give yourself permission to take that break. Regular UTI’s are just one thing that you could face.

  8. Your sex life is suffering and you are struggling. You or your partner may not realize that this is a factor, but stress and tension can cause erectile dysfunction in men. Dr Colgan says, A lot of men walk into my office and say they want Viagra, but oftentimes I’ll tell them I don’t think a pill will help their problem when I believe it’s stress that’s causing thee issue. It’s a vicious cycle that can go around for both men and women. There are some situations where men will start drinking for example to deal with it, which only makes the problem worse.

    The biggest thing here is to identify the issue at hand. Determine what is actually causing the problem. Are you having struggles with a rocky relationship? Is it stress at work? Determine what is actually causing the issue and deal with it. Otherwise, you will be stuck in a never ending cycle.