Sunday, February 24, 2008

Loneliness and Dread as Time Sense Disturbances

SpringerLink - Journal Article: "Carl Goldberg

Abstract Our consciousness of time is created by our longing over duration for the care of a nurturing other. By means of a case study, it is shown here that the experience of abject loneliness is dependent upon a disturbed consciousness of time: unmet needs over the passage of time. Loneliness as such is the denial of the present moment—its possibilities and its demands. The loss of the present moment fosters a disturbed judgment of time: the sense that the present moment has stopped—is virtually endless, since the present moment has no future toward which to intend. This time disturbance diminishes the subject's capacity for agency.

loneliness - dread - exclusionary conjunctive speech - care - shame"

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Fast-food binge harms liver, but boosts good cholesterol: study - Yahoo! News

Fast-food binge harms liver, but boosts good cholesterol: study - Yahoo! News

PARIS (AFP) - A month-long diet of fast food and no exercise led to dangerously high levels of enzymes linked to liver damage, in an unusual experiment inspired by the docu-movie "Supersize Me."
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But investigators, reporting their findings on Thursday, were also stunned to find that a relentless regimen of burgers, fries and soda also boosted so-called good cholesterol, seen as a key measure of cardiovascular health.

Researchers in Sweden asked 12 men and six women in their twenties, all slim and in good health, to eat two meals per day at McDonalds, Burger King or other fast-food restaurants over four weeks.

The volunteers were also told to refrain from exercising. The goal was to increase body weight by 10 to 15 percent to measure the impact of an abrupt surge in calorie intake.

Blood samples were taken before, during and after the experiment to monitor levels of an enzyme called alanine aminotransferase, or ALT, a potential marker for liver damage often seen among heavy drinkers and patients with hepatitis C.

Levels of ALT increased sharply after only one week, and quadrupled on average over the entire period, said lead researcher Frederik Nystrom, a doctor at the University Hospital of Linkoping.

"The results scared me," he told AFP. "One of the subjects had to be withdrawn from the study because he had 10 times the normal ALT levels."

For 11 of the 18 subjects, ALT rose to levels that would normally reflect liver damage, even among individuals who did not drink any alcohol, although no such damage occurred, he said.

Two of the individuals had liver steatosis, or fatty liver, in which fat cells build up dangerously in the liver, he said. Steatosis is associated with the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, which has taken on epidemic proportions, especially in industrialised countries.

Published in the British Medical Association's journal Gut, the study "proves that high ALT levels can be caused by food alone," said Nystrom.

That signs of liver damage were linked to carbohydrates was another key finding, he said.

"It was not the fat in the hamburgers, it was rather the sugar in the coke," he said.


But the most startling result implies that an intensive fast food diet might have some health benefits too, apparently from fat.

"We found that healthy HDL cholesterol actually increased over the four-week period -- this was very counter-intuitive," Nystrom said.

HDL, sometimes called "good cholesterol," seems to clean the walls of blood vessels, removing excess "bad cholesterol" that can cause coronary artery disease and transporting it to the liver for processing.

Nystrom has yet to publish the cholesterol findings, but said they were consistent with the so-called "French Paradox."

For nearly two decades, scientists have wrestled to explain how the French can consume a diet rich in fats -- from abundant butter, cream, cheese and meat -- yet have generally low levels of heart disease and hypertension.


"The study showed that the increase in saturated fat correlated with the increase in healthy cholesterol," he said.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

swanksalot: Circadian Riddems and Spare Tires

swanksalot: Circadian Riddems and Spare Tires

For some people, packing on unwanted pounds might have more to do with the functioning of their internal body clocks than with willpower.


Researchers from Northwestern University and Evanston Northwestern Healthcare have been studying how a faulty circadian clock, which regulates different parts of the body, including the mechanisms that control sleep and hunger, can damage the metabolism thus raising the risk for obesity and diabetes.
[From Researchers: Faulty body clock may lead to obesity, diabetes -- chicagotribune.com]


snip


So far, 32 epidemiological studies have shown an association between inadequate sleep and higher body-mass index, a measure of overweight, said Dr. Eve Van Cauter, a professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. Van Cauter studies the effect of circadian rhythms on the endocrine system.



Van Cauter and her colleagues have published two studies examining the effects of short-term sleep restriction in young, healthy, lean adults. They found that individuals experienced different levels of hunger and satiety, depending on how much sleep they got.



"Leptin, an important hormone regulating appetite, is disturbed by sleep deprivation and no longer determines caloric need accurately," Van Cauter said.



In one study, sleep-deprived subjects were asked to rate their hunger for certain foods. Not only were they hungrier, they had a higher appetite for starchy, sweet and other high-carbohydrate foods.



"They did not have a need for food based on their energy expenditure, but they nevertheless felt more hunger," Van Cauter said.

Retired Teacher Reveals He Was Illiterate Until Age 48 - San Diego News Story - KGTV San Diego

Retired Teacher Reveals He Was Illiterate Until Age 48 - San Diego News Story - KGTV San Diego

John Corcoran graduated from college and taught high school for 17 years without being able to read, write or spell.

Corcoran's life of secrecy started at a young age. He said his teachers moved him up from grade to grade. Often placed in what he calls the "dumb row," the images of his tribulations in the classroom are still vividly clear.

"I can remember when I was 8 years old saying my prayers at night saying, 'please, God, tomorrow when it's my turn to read please let me read.' You just pretend that you are invisible and when the teacher says, 'Johnnie read,' you just wait the teacher out because you know the teacher has to go away at some point," said Corcoran.

Al-Qaeda leaders admit: 'We are in crisis. There is panic and fear' - Times Online

Al-Qaeda leaders admit: "We are in crisis. There is panic and fear" - Times Online

Al-Qaeda in Iraq faces an “extraordinary crisis”. Last year's mass defection of ordinary Sunnis from al-Qaeda to the US military “created panic, fear and the unwillingness to fight”. The terrorist group's security structure suffered “total collapse”.

These are the words not of al-Qaeda's enemies but of one of its own leaders in Anbar province — once the group's stronghold. They were set down last summer in a 39-page letter seized during a US raid on an al-Qaeda base near Samarra in November.

The US military released extracts from that letter yesterday along with a second seized in another November raid that is almost as startling.

That second document is a bitter 16-page testament written last October by a local al-Qaeda leader near Balad, north of Baghdad. “I am Abu-Tariq, emir of the al-Layin and al-Mashahdah sector,” the author begins. He goes on to describe how his force of 600 shrank to fewer than 20.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Can Sugar Substitutes Make You Fat? - TIME

Can Sugar Substitutes Make You Fat? - TIME

When it comes to dieting, most of us are willing to resort to a trick or two to help us curb our appetite and eat less — drinking water to fill up when we're hungry, for example, or opting for artificial sweeteners instead of sugar to get the same satisfying sweetness without the offending calories. But new research suggests that the body is not so easily fooled, and that sugar substitutes are no key to weight loss — perhaps helping to explain why, despite a plethora of low-calorie food and drink, Americans are heavier than ever.

In a series of experiments, scientists at Purdue University compared weight gain and eating habits in rats whose diets were supplemented with sweetened food containing either zero-calorie saccharin or sugar. The report, published in Behavioral Neuroscience, presents some counterintuitive findings: Animals fed with artificially sweetened yogurt over a two-week period consumed more calories and gained more weight — mostly in the form of fat — than animals eating yogurt flavored with glucose, a natural, high-calorie sweetener. It's a continuation of work the Purdue group began in 2004, when they reported that animals consuming saccharin-sweetened liquids and snacks tended to eat more than animals fed high-calorie, sweetened foods. The new study, say the scientists, offers stronger evidence that how we eat may depend on automatic, conditioned responses to food that are beyond our control.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

IBDeditorials.com: Editorials, Political Cartoons, and Polls from Investor's Business Daily -- The Sun Also Sets

IBDeditorials.com: Editorials, Political Cartoons, and Polls from Investor's Business Daily -- The Sun Also Sets

Back in 1991, before Al Gore first shouted that the Earth was in the balance, the Danish Meteorological Institute released a study using data that went back centuries that showed that global temperatures closely tracked solar cycles.

To many, those data were convincing. Now, Canadian scientists are seeking additional funding for more and better "eyes" with which to observe our sun, which has a bigger impact on Earth's climate than all the tailpipes and smokestacks on our planet combined.

And they're worried about global cooling, not warming.

Kenneth Tapping, a solar researcher and project director for Canada's National Research Council, is among those looking at the sun for evidence of an increase in sunspot activity.

Solar activity fluctuates in an 11-year cycle. But so far in this cycle, the sun has been disturbingly quiet. The lack of increased activity could signal the beginning of what is known as a Maunder Minimum, an event which occurs every couple of centuries and can last as long as a century.

Such an event occurred in the 17th century. The observation of sunspots showed extraordinarily low levels of magnetism on the sun, with little or no 11-year cycle.

This solar hibernation corresponded with a period of bitter cold that began around 1650 and lasted, with intermittent spikes of warming, until 1715. Frigid winters and cold summers during that period led to massive crop failures, famine and death in Northern Europe.

Tapping reports no change in the sun's magnetic field so far this cycle and warns that if the sun remains quiet for another year or two, it may indicate a repeat of that period of drastic cooling of the Earth, bringing massive snowfall and severe weather to the Northern Hemisphere.

Tapping oversees the operation of a 60-year-old radio telescope that he calls a "stethoscope for the sun." But he and his colleagues need better equipment.

In Canada, where radio-telescopic monitoring of the sun has been conducted since the end of World War II, a new instrument, the next-generation solar flux monitor, could measure the sun's emissions more rapidly and accurately.

As we have noted many times, perhaps the biggest impact on the Earth's climate over time has been the sun.

[,,,]

Rather, he says, "I and the first-class scientists I work with are consistently finding excellent correlations between the regular fluctuations of the sun and earthly climate. This is not surprising. The sun and the stars are the ultimate source of energy on this planet."

Patterson, sharing Tapping's concern, says: "Solar scientists predict that, by 2020, the sun will be starting into its weakest Schwabe cycle of the past two centuries, likely leading to unusually cool conditions on Earth."

"Solar activity has overpowered any effect that CO2 has had before, and it most likely will again," Patterson says. "If we were to have even a medium-sized solar minimum, we could be looking at a lot more bad effects than 'global warming' would have had."

In 2005, Russian astronomer Khabibullo Abdusamatov made some waves — and not a few enemies in the global warming "community" — by predicting that the sun would reach a peak of activity about three years from now, to be accompanied by "dramatic changes" in temperatures.

A Hoover Institution Study a few years back examined historical data and came to a similar conclusion.

"The effects of solar activity and volcanoes are impossible to miss. Temperatures fluctuated exactly as expected, and the pattern was so clear that, statistically, the odds of the correlation existing by chance were one in 100," according to Hoover fellow Bruce Berkowitz.

The study says that "try as we might, we simply could not find any relationship between industrial activity, energy consumption and changes in global temperatures."

The study concludes that if you shut down all the world's power plants and factories, "there would not be much effect on temperatures."

But if the sun shuts down, we've got a problem. It is the sun, not the Earth, that's hanging in the balance.

Toxins may be linked to early puberty - UPI.com

Toxins may be linked to early puberty - UPI.com

Researchers in Italy suggest environmental toxins may be linked to areas where girls have a high incidence of early puberty.

The study, published in The Journal of Pediatrics, looked at whether the naturally occurring mycoestrogen zearalenone, or ZEA, produced by the Fusarium fungus species, may be linked to early onset of puberty, known as central precocious puberty.

ZEA can be found naturally in the environment, but it also has properties similar to the female reproductive hormone estrogen and is structurally similar to anabolic growth agents used in animal breeding.

The researchers studied a group of girls affected by early puberty in Tuscany -- an area with much higher than average incidence of this condition. Six of the 17 girls studied had elevated levels of ZEA.

"Although this finding might be incidental, ZEA may be related to central precocious puberty occurrence in girls exposed to mycoestrogens," lead researcher Dr. Francesco Massart said.

[...]

Fusarium is a filamentous fungus widely distributed on plants and in the soil. It is found in normal mycoflora of commodities, such as rice, bean, soybean, and other crops [1806]. While most species are more common at tropical and subtropical areas, some inhabit in soil in cold climates. Some Fusarium species have a teleomorphic state [1295, 2202].

ABC News: Genes May Trump Diet in Obese Kids

ABC News: Genes May Trump Diet in Obese Kids
Diet and lifestyle play a far smaller role than genetic factors in determining whether a child becomes overweight, according to a British study of twins published on Thursday.

Researchers looking at more than 5,000 pairs of twins wrote in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that genes account for about three-quarters of the differences in a child's waistline and weight.


"Contrary to the widespread assumption that family environment is the key factor in determining weight gain, we found this was not the case," said Jane Wardle, director of Cancer Research UK's Health Behavior Centre, who led the study.

Previous studies have pointed to environmental factors as the main cause of obesity, a major problem worldwide that increases the risk later in life of type-2 diabetes, cancer and heart problems.

The World Health Organization classifies around 400 million people worldwide as obese, including 200 million children under the age of five.

The British team looked at pairs of identical twins who share all their genes and compared their measurements with those of non-identical twins who share only half their genes.

A statistical analysis found that the differences in the children's body mass index and waist circumference were 77 percent attributable to genes and 23 percent due to the environment in which the children were growing up.

BMI is calculated by dividing weight by the square of height.

"These results do not mean that a child with a high complement of 'susceptibility genes' will inevitably become overweight, but that their genetic endowment gives them a stronger predisposition," the researchers said.