Category Archives: Health

Another Reason To Eat Chiles

They reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. This kind of thing always makes me question such studies, though:

Chen and his colleagues turned to hamsters for the study, animals that serve as stand-ins for humans in research that cannot be done in people. They gave the hamsters high-cholesterol diets, divided them into groups, and supplemented each group’s food with either no capsaicinoids (the control group) or various amounts of capsaicinoids. The scientists then analyzed the effects.

In addition to reducing total cholesterol levels in the blood, capsaicinoids reduced levels of the so-called “bad” cholesterol (which deposits into blood vessels), but did not affect levels of so-called “good” cholesterol. The team found indications that capsaicinoids may reduce the size of deposits that already have formed in blood vessels, narrowing arteries in ways that can lead to heart attacks or strokes.

Capsaicinoids also blocked the activity of a gene that produces cyclooxygenase-2, a substance that makes the muscles around blood vessels constrict. By blocking it, muscles can relax and widen, allowing more blood to flow.

Emphasis mine. The assumption is that one gets high cholesterol from dietary cholesterol, when in fact there’s little evidence to substantiate that. But in this case, I don’t think it invalidates the research, fortunately.

Speaking of nutrition myths, here’s one that says bacon is good for you, but still gets it wrong:

Nutritionist Zoe Harcombe says: ‘Typically, about 45 per cent of the fat in pork is unsaturated. Most of that is oleic acid, the same healthy fat found in olive oil, which is known to help lower cholesterol levels.

‘Of course, the rest is unhealthy saturated fat, so moderation is key.’

Repeat after me: there is nothing wrong with saturated fat. In fact, it is much healthier than seed oils with their high omega 6s, which is where we got too much of our dietary fat. The key is to cut back on the high-glycemic carbs.

The Health-Care Disaster

Thoughts on the failure of the Blue model from Walter Russell Mead:

Obamacare was supposed to be the capstone in the arch of a new progressive era. The Dems were going to show us all that government really does work. Smart government by smart people, using modern methods and the latest up to the minute research from carefully peer reviewed articles in well regarded social science journals can solve big social problems. Obamacare was going to be such a big hit that even the bitter clingers would have to put down their guns and their Bibles long enough to thank the Democrats for this wonderful new benefaction.

But even if the Supreme Court doesn’t pull the trigger and kill the law in June, the darn thing won’t fly. The public hates it, and the longer it’s on the books the less popular it gets. This isn’t like Social Security, a program the public fell in love with early on and still cherishes today. It isn’t like Head Start, which remains dearly beloved even though there doesn’t seem to be much evidence that it helps anybody other than the people it employs. Obamacare is only marginally more popular than the Afghan War; already its estimated cost has doubled and we all know these numbers are likely to continue to increase. Obamacare so far is a political flop and shows ominous early signs of being a policy misfire as well. The benefits don’t seem to measure up to the hype, more people are going to lose their existing insurance, premiums are going up and the impact on the deficit is going to be worse.

This is a horrible piece of legislation — as misbegotten and useless to its friends as it is menacing to its enemies. The question is: why? Why did the blues write such a bad law? Why, given a once in a lifetime chance to pass a program that Dems have longed to achieve ever since the New Deal, did they craft a sloppy mess that nobody understands and few admire, and then leave their law so unnecessarily vulnerable to constitutional challenge?

The answers tell us much about why blue progressive thinking is losing its hold on the body politic — and why blue methods generally aren’t working as well as they used to.

It can’t lose its hold fast enough for me.

A Breakthrough?

A single anti-body that shrinks a wide variety of human tumors in mice.

They showed that nearly every human cancer cell they examined expressed CD47 — usually at higher levels (on average, about three times more) than did non-cancerous cells. Furthermore, people whose cancer cells express a lot of CD47 tend to have shorter life spans than people with similar cancers that express less CD47. This suggests that an analysis of the levels of CD47 expression in some types of tumors could be a valuable prognostic tool for patients and their doctors.

Willingham and Volkmer then implanted the different human tumor cells into matching locations in the bodies of mice — breast cancer tumors into the mammary fat pads, and ovarian cancer tumors into the abdomen, for example. Once the tumors were well-established (after two weeks or more), they treated the animals with the anti-CD47 antibody.

The researchers saw that most of the established tumors begin to shrink and even, in some cases, disappear within weeks of treatment with the antibody. In one case, antibody treatment cured five mice injected with the same human breast cancer cells. When the tumor was gone, the treatment was discontinued; the mice were monitored for four months with no signs of recurrence.

“These results indicate that anti-CD47 antibodies can dramatically inhibit the growth of human solid tumors by blocking the ability of CD47 to transmit the ‘don’t-eat-me’ signal to macrophages,” concluded the authors.

Clinical trials for humans within two years?

Faster, please.