Friday, December 17, 2010

Aspirin: 21st Century Anti-Cancer Wonder Drug?

Ever since the late 19th Century anti-pain medication became a heart attack and stroke preventive of the 1980s, is aspirin now poised to become the 21st Century’s anti-cancer wonder drug?

By: Ringo Bones

Ever since German chemist Felix Hoffman was credited for “inventing” acetylsalicylic acid – better known as aspirin – back in 1897, little did he know that his non-steroidal anti-inflammatory “wonder drug” also has the capacity to cure other ailments; Ever since gaining status as an over-the-counter pain medication when it was first sold without prescription back in 1915, aspirin was primarily use as a general pain reliever. It was a far better alternative than its contemporaries at the time – i.e. heroin-based preparations like laudanum, etc. Then the 1980s came and another use for aspirin was found – heart attack and stroke preventive when taken at low daily doses. And as recently as 2010 during a recent medical research study, aspirin is found out yet again as a viable cancer preventive when taken at low daily doses. But will aspirin yet again gain fame as the 21st Century’s latest anti-cancer wonder drug?

Aspirin’s newly-discovered anti-cancer properties were recently found out in an Oxford based medical research team who recently published their findings in the medical journal Lancet as recently as December 2010. The research showed on a study of conducted on 25,000 volunteers / test subjects aged 50 to 75 who took 75 milligrams of aspirin a day for 4 years have shown to have 25% lower risk of developing the most common forms of cancer. Basing on the resulting data they got so far, the researchers interpolated that if their test subjects continued taking aspirin at the “recommended” 75 milligrams a day for 20 years, they could also statistically reduce their cancer mortality rate by 20%. The research is still on-going, but will this eventually prove that aspirin is also an anti-cancer drug and not just a general non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain killer and a heart attack and stroke preventive?

If aspirin was discovered much later – when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and related pharmacological regulatory bureaus were already established, aspirin would never get approved for human use due to it’s very broad effects – good or bad. And even though it is already well established that low daily doses of aspirin has been “recommended” as a heart attack and stroke preventive for almost 30 years now, it is this very property that you should consult your family doctor / general practitioner before embarking on a low daily dose of aspirin because it could be dangerous if one has a pre-existing condition of chronic bleeding and ulcers due to aspirin’s blood-thinning properties. If your doctor gives you the green light to take aspirin in supplement like low level daily doses, you could well lowering your risk in getting not just cancer, but also heart attack and strokes as well – not to mention a proven non-narcotic pain reliever for over 100 years.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Is the Gulf War Syndrome For Real?

First observed on war veterans that served during Operation Desert Storm, will the then newfangled disorder then dubbed by the press as Gulf War Syndrome ever be demystified by medical science as a real health disorder?

By: Ringo Bones

Since its identification around 1992 and the publication of a then controversial findings by Dr. András Korényi-Both, a newly identified health disorder now known as Gulf War Syndrome could easily be dismissed by those with vested interests as nothing more than a form of post traumatic hypochondria. This is probably due to the broad spectrum of the disorder’s symptoms that tend to be chronic and undiagnosable. Not to mention the myriad of probable causes, but by the mid 1990s, a number of scientist had probably pinned down two broad types of the disorder that is now popularly referred to as Gulf War Syndrome.

The Biochemical Interaction Theory: Even though this aspect of the Gulf War Syndrome was proven by a study made by a Duke University pharmacologist Mohamed Abou-Donia and his team where they published a report back in April 1995. Stating the results of their study that a combination of pesticides and insect repellants – like DEET – used by soldiers during the 1990-1991 Gulf War caused nerve damage in chickens. And also the use of an anti-nerve gas agent, called pyridostigmine bromide tends to impair the body’s ability to break down toxic chemicals – like those found in the insect repellant DEET – as it enters the body. Even though Dr. Abou-Donia and his team’s study had been used as a guide in more recent studies on lawn chemicals used in a majority of American homes and their interaction with asthma medication to produce Gulf War Syndrome like symptoms. It has implications that this disorder probably didn’t start during the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War.

There are anecdotes that date back during the early years of the Vietnam War, probably before the mosquito repellant DEET became a standard issue, about a US soldier who was almost driven to insanity by pestering mosquitoes. The soldier, according to the story, was eventually forced to take his nap under the mud of the nearest rice paddy completely immersing himself in which he used his standard issue gas mask and a drinking straw as a breathing device. When DEET became standard issue, it is safe to assume that it could have exacerbated the toxic effects of the Monsanto manufactured defoliant called Agent Orange, which became in widespread use during the height of the Vietnam War.

Those “experimental” vaccine adjuvants issued during Operation Desert Shield are also suspected as one of the contributors of some of the symptoms that fall into the category of Gulf War Syndrome. Adjuvants are substances that potentiate an immune response and the only adjuvant licensed for use in humans at present is alum – an aluminum salt. But during Operation Desert Shield, experimental vaccines that could protect coalition troops against Saddam Hussein’s biological arsenal contained a not yet thoroughly tested adjuvant called MF59 - a squalene containing adjuvant – which many suspect as the primary cause of the symptoms experienced by many veterans of the first Gulf War. Even the anthrax “anti-toxoid” issued during Operation Desert Shield contains the most adjuvants like aluminum hydroxide, formaldehyde and benzalkonium chloride.

Another suspected cause of Gulf War Syndrome that had gained recent reevaluation is the use of depleted uranium munitions. Due to its inherent pyrophoric and armor piercing capabilities, depleted uranium – which is nothing more that uranium-238 fashioned for ballistic use – had virtually replaced those tungsten cored magnesium and white phosphorous pyrotechnic armor-piercing incendiary rounds of a generation ago due to depleted uranium’s indefinite shelf-life. And due to its density, munitions experts suggests that depleted uranium has the ability to absorb any residual alpha particles, thus making concerns of its inherent radioactivity groundless.

But studies conducted by Dr. Asaf Durakovic on a number of 1991 Gulf War vets suffering from Gulf War Syndrome had shown that almost all of them had suffered chromosomal damage via alpha particle exposure. Thus making depleted uranium as another primary suspect of this newly uncovered syndrome. And the depleted uranium issue also recently raised concern when a March 4, 2010 broadcast of the BBC when their correspondent John Simpson was covering a story on the rise of birth defects in Fallujah. Where many blamed the use of depleted uranium-containing munitions during the infamous Battle of Fallujah back in April 2004. Did the US DoD issued depleted uranium-containing versions of the SS 109 / M-855 5.56mm X 45mm ammunition back then?

So far it seems the scientific community has found findings of Dr. Asaf Durakovic on the harmful effects of depleted uranium as the primary suspects of Gulf War Syndrome. Simply because it is transformed as an easily breathable vapor every time it does its intended function – i.e. as an armor piercing incendiary munitions. Thus explaining why how harmful levels of chromosome-damaging alpha particles could affect anyone that spent a significant amount of time in a depleted uranium strewn battlefield.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Keeping One’s Health Intact Though an Earthquake

With the recent tragic earthquake that struck Haiti, is it possible for everyone to go through such a disaster with their lives – and hopefully their health – intact?

By: Ringo Bones

The somewhat mismanaged and uncoordinated disaster relief of the recent earthquake that struck Haiti has been a subject of much politicized discussion, especially for those who had contributed significant portions of their expertise and money to aid the survivors. Surprisingly, many public service “how to” and “what to” dos on what to do before, during, and after an earthquake are already widely available that would minimize unnecessary death and suffering as a result of an earthquake and other natural disasters. Since almost all of us are susceptible to disaster amnesia – i.e. we tend to forget the previous disaster that would have prepared us for the next one, here are some tips that could protect us from the adverse health hazards of an earthquake.

Before an earthquake strikes, it is important that all of us should support local safety building codes with enforcement for schools, hospitals, offices, homes and other public places. Hospitals should not become deathtraps during earthquakes as a result of substandard construction practices since these are the most vital infrastructure that should still be functioning to treat the injured. When it comes to earthquake preparedness, there’s nothing more important than supporting and encouraging earthquake drills and training for schools, work areas and homes.

As a homeowner or tenant, there are a number of ways that you can prevent and minimize possible death and injuries that might occur if an earthquake strikes. Fasten shelves to walls and remove heavy objects from upper shelves unless they are restrained. Place breakable / fragile or valuable items in a safe place. Remove or securely fasten high loose objects, especially those heavy objects situated directly above one’s beds. If you have defective or aging wiring or leaky gas connections, replace them as soon as possible. Bolt down your heaters and other gas operated appliances. Like the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, fires can be as damaging and as deadly as the structural damage introduced by the quake itself. Another way to minimize electrical and fire injuries and to conserve water during the aftermath of an earthquake is by teaching members of one’s family and household how to turn off the electricity, gas and water at the main switches and valves.

Another good earthquake preparedness measure is the maintenance of at least three days of food and bottled water and an up-to-date medical / first-aid kit. One should teach responsible family members basic first-aid instruction like CPR because medical facilities are more often than not could be overwhelmed immediately after a severe earthquake. Also maintaining flashlights and radios with healthy batteries in the house is very important when it comes to earthquake preparedness. Family discussions about what to do in case of an earthquake and related problems should be done in a calm manner. As much as possible, avoid telling frightening stories about disasters. Remember to have the presence of mind to do what’s needed in order to survive when an earthquake struck while you’re at work, in a store, in a public hall or outside. Prior planning will help you act calmly, safely and constructively in an emergency and enable you to aid others.

An overwhelming majority of earthquake victims are usually caught by surprise, but there are ways to keep one’s life and cool when caught in the middle an earthquake. Remain as calm as possible. Think through the consequences of expedient actions you are about to take. Try to calm and reassure others.

When caught indoors, watch out for falling plaster, bricks, lighting fixtures and other objects. Stay away from objects and structures that might shatter in the middle of an earthquake like glass windows, mirrors, chimneys and outer walls. If the building you’re in is in danger of immediate collapse, get under the strongest table you can find or other secure structures you can crawl under like desks, beds, or a strong doorway. School children should be taught to automatically get under desks during an earthquake. Usually, it is not ideal to run outside, unless of course you are in a heavy poorly constructed old building. Most modern high-rise office buildings are constructed with earthquake resistance in mind, so it is better to shelter under the desk or table to protect oneself from falling debris. Do not dash for exits because stairwells may be jammed with people increasing the likelihood of a stampede and power for the elevators may be cut-off.

When caught by an earthquake outside, avoid high buildings, walls, power utility poles and objects that could fall. Never run through the streets. If possible, move away from all hazards. If you are in an automobile, stop in the safest place you can find and stay there. Being made of steel, automobiles are one of the best places to be in case of falling debris. Never be hastily stampeded into leaving an upright building merely because it groans horribly or cracks start to appear and plaster falls. The only good time to leave a building is when collapse is obviously imminent, which is generally indicated by walls falling as a unit.

After an earthquake, check yourself and those near you for injuries. Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they’re in immediate danger of further injury, like by falling debris and imminent building collapse. As you move around, always wear shoes to avoid foot injuries from debris and broken glass. Check for and rule out gas leaks before you operate light switches, light a match or candles. And do not touch downed power lines.

If your home’s water supply is out, emergency water for putting out small fires of non-electrical nature can be obtained from water heaters, from toilet tanks, from ice cubes, canned vegetables and even radiators from cars. Although water from radiators should not be used for drinking as it may contain antifreeze. Check out the sewage lines for damage before permitting the flushing of toilets.

Do not use your telephone except for genuine emergency calls. This rule applies to mobile phones and satellite phones, and even to Internet traffic as well. Tune to the radio instead for information. Do not spread rumors or be quick to believe them. Rumors can cause great harm and panic following a major disaster. Do not immediately go sightseeing. Keep the streets clear for emergency vehicles. Be prepared for additional aftershocks. Although usually smaller, these may be large enough to cause further damage to weakened structures like masonry structures. Watch out for and stay clear of areas of potential tidal waves or landslides.

Help police, fire fighters, civil defense or relief units only if requested to do so. Otherwise, stay out of damaged areas. Make thorough check of your home for cracks or leaks in chimneys, utility connections or other weakened parts of your house that could cause further fires, asphyxiation or further damage.

Lastly, no set of rules can eliminate all earthquake dangers, but the following rules previously mentioned can greatly reduce injuries and damage to property. You can count yourself fortunate if your only concern after an earthquake is whether your insurance policy payout is adequate to fix your home like before.