Saturday, October 3, 2015

October 3 2015. Mars apart. the Earth is all we’ve got to live on—yet we seem hell bent on making it uninhabitable. Destroy it? No, the Earth will survive—and the cockroaches will laugh! They’re a humorous bunch you know.




One of the byproducts of reading extensively—and cultivating a writer’s eye (cultivating your powers of observation with a view to potentially writing about what you see) is that you start noticing patterns. It is why I am strongly biased towards ongoing research of a subject— as opposed to merely carrying out the minimum for a book. 

In truth, I don’t need to research nearly as much as I do if I solely wanted to write commercial books as fast as possible—but I have made ongoing research part of my life in the belief that it will give me insight into the sectors that both interest and concern me. It also satisfies my innate intellectual curiosity—which has, I confess, a voracious appetite—and helps me write—so I like to think—with greater authority.

I want to know everything (an impossible task) but use only a fraction.

Somehow, people seem to sense if you are really comfortable with your subject—even if you include substantially less than you know (because less is more).

Where health is concerned, I don’t pretend to be any kind of an expert, but, as you age, you become increasingly aware that you need to know something about the subject—whether you like it or not—because, without reasonable health, it is hard to do anything else (although many people whose health is less than ideal cope wonderfully).

I was singularly ill-educated about health when growing up (my mother hated doctors, for instance) and I tended to associate exercise with compulsory sports at boarding school (so regarded it is best avoided) but I have always loved walking, and never took up cigarette smoking, so I guess didn’t do myself quite as much damage as I might have.

But, I shudder when I look back at my neglect of such a fundamental facet of life as my health—and here am I thinking of myself as a reasonably intelligent human being! I blush!

It also makes me wonder about education. Was I really better off learning Latin and Greek instead of the basics of looking after one’s health? Frankly, I doubt it—but that’s a whole other blog (and I think Latin did help me where writing is concerned).

Be that as it may, over time I have come to the following conclusions as far as health is concerned.

  • Exercise is vital. If you don’t use it, you lose it.
  • We need to walk a great deal more than we do—so should design our living conditions accordingly (particularly our urban environments).
  • A good public transport system is essential for people’s physical health—as well as just helping people get around. What you gain from not having a public transport system, you lose many times over in healthcare costs. And no, I can’t prove that. It is merely an opinion (which I would like to be able to prove).
  • The dominance of the car is a disaster. We certainly need cars, or something like them, but probably not on an individual basis. Self-driving cars may resolve this issue. Appreciate that the things not only inhibit exercise, but they fill the air with the kind of micro-particles that do serious damage. The damn things are dangerous.
  • We need to re-think commuting to work.
  • Working in an office all day without exercise is nuts. Employers should incorporate both exercise facilities, and the necessary exercise time, into the working week. We should almost certainly re-think “the working week.”
  • The quality of the environment is a great deal more important than we care to admit—and has, I believe, a phenomenal impact on our health. As matters stand, we pollute the air we breathe, the soil we grow out crops in, and the water we drink and bathe in—to excess. We are also doing massive damage to the oceans. And then there is the issue of climate change. It would make a bishop weep!
  • We pay far too little attention to the quality of our food—and far too much to the quantity, and appearance, of the ingredients. Overall, the food chain—if not quite broken—is deeply suspect from a health point of view. Monoculture and current industrial farming methods—particularly in the U.S—are a disaster. The nutritional content of many foods is in decline. Food processing, with its heavy dependence on making the end result addictive though the addition of fats, salt, sugar, and cheap fillers constitutes a major health hazard. We compound this by giving food animals antibiotics which promotes antibiotic resistance in humans. This is crazy!
  • Fast food, by and large is a disaster.
  • We over-medicate to a degree that is criminal.
  • The fact that most doctors know almost nothing about diet is a major indictment of the medical profession—and their heavy reliance on medicate is another.
  • A great deal of what we are told though advertising, in the media, and by politicians and other “thought leaders” just isn’t true. In short we are being lied to and manipulated to an alarming extent.

My overall conclusion is that we are probably doing ourselves a great deal of quite unnecessary damage—and would benefit from a fundamental lifestyle change.

I find it quite amazing that over 70 percent of young Americans, for instance, are unfit for military service—largely for health reasons! This is, indeed a National Security issue.

Something like half of the adult population suffers from chronic condition and is on medication. Virtually all seniors are on multiple medications

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to find that Americans, on average, live sicker and die two years sooner than Europeans. What does surprise me is the lack of concern about the situation.

That said, it is a fascinating world—which, with all its faults—I will be sorry to leave.  

No, I’m not planning an imminent departure. Like everyone, I am secretly planning to live for ever (on something like the Mediterranean diet).

It will take that long to write all the books I have planned.

Chemical exposure linked to rising diabetes, obesity risk

September 28, 2015

Emerging evidence ties endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure to two of the biggest public health threats facing society - diabetes and obesity, according to the executive summary of an upcoming Scientific Statement issued today by the Endocrine Society.

The statement's release comes as Society experts are addressing a global meeting, the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4), in Geneva, Switzerland, on the importance of using scientific approaches to limit health risks of EDC exposure.

The statement builds upon the Society's groundbreaking 2009 report, which examined the state of scientific evidence on endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and the risks posed to human health. In the ensuing years, additional research has found that exposure is associated with increased risk of developing diabetes and obesity. Mounting evidence also indicates EDC exposure is connected to infertility, hormone-related cancers, neurological issues and other disorders.

EDCs contribute to health problems by mimicking, blocking or otherwise interfering with the body's natural hormones. By hijacking the body's chemical messengers, EDCs can alter the way cells develop and grow.

Known EDCs include bisphenol A (BPA) found in food can linings and cash register receipts, phthalates found in plastics and cosmetics, flame retardants and pesticides. The chemicals are so common that nearly every person on Earth has been exposed to one or more. An economic analysis published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in March estimated that EDC exposure likely costs the European Union €157 billion ($209 billion) a year in actual health care expenses and lost earning potential.

"The evidence is more definitive than ever before - EDCs disrupt hormones in a manner that harms human health," said Andrea C. Gore, Professor and Vacek Chair of Pharmacology at the University of Texas at Austin and chair of the task force that developed the statement. "Hundreds of studies are pointing to the same conclusion, whether they are long-term epidemiological studies in human, basic research in animals and cells, or research into groups of people with known occupational exposure to specific chemicals."

The threat is particularly great when unborn children are exposed to EDCs. Animal studies found that exposure to even tiny amounts of EDCs during the prenatal period can trigger obesity later in life. Similarly, animal studies found that some EDCs directly target beta and alpha cells in the pancreas, fat cells, and liver cells. This can lead to insulin resistance and an overabundance of the hormone insulin in the body - risk factors for Type 2 diabetes.

Epidemiological studies of EDC exposure in humans also point to an association with obesity and diabetes, although the research design did not allow scientists to determine causality. The research offers insights into factors driving the rising rates of obesity and diabetes. About 35 percent of American adults are obese, and more than 29 million Americans have diabetes, according to the Society's Endocrine Facts and Figures report.

The Scientific Statement also examines evidence linking EDCs to reproductive health problems, hormone-related cancers such as breast and ovarian cancer, prostate conditions, thyroid disorders and neurodevelopmental issues. Although many of these conditions were linked to EDCs by earlier research, the number of corroborating studies continues to mount.

"It is clear we need to take action to minimize further exposure," Gore said. "With more chemicals being introduced into the marketplace all the time, better safety testing is needed to identify new EDCs and ensure they are kept out of household goods."

In the statement, the Society calls for:

  • Additional research to more directly infer cause-and-effect relationships between EDC exposure and health conditions.
  • Regulation to ensure that chemicals are tested for endocrine activity, including at low doses, prior to being permitted for use.
  • Calling upon "green chemists" and other industrial partners to create products that test for and eliminate potential EDCs.
  • Education for the public and policymakers on ways to keep EDCs out of food, water and the air, as well as ways to protect unborn children from exposure.

The statement also addresses the need to recognize EDCs as an international problem. Society members are currently meeting in Geneva for the fourth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4). Attending members, including Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, MD, PhD, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Liège in Belgium, emphasize key principles of endocrinology that are confirmed by recent research need to be taken into account when developing policies for identifying and regulating endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

"Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals during early development can have long-lasting, even permanent consequences," said Bourguignon. "The science is clear and it's time for policymakers to take this wealth of evidence into account as they develop legislation."

Explore further: Current chemical testing missing low-dosage effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals

More information: "Executive Summary to EDC-2: The Endocrine Society's Second Scientific Statement on Endocrine-disrupting Chemicals," was published online in Endocrine Reviews, a journal of the Endocrine Society, at

Journal reference: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism search and more info website

Provided by: The Endocrine Society search and more info website



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