Friday, November 30, 2007

AP: Graveyard Shift Work LInked to Cancer

Maybe that's why they call it the graveyard shift. Check this out from the AP--kind of interesting considering yesterday's post on Vitamin D--sun--and cancer...


LONDON - Like UV rays and diesel exhaust fumes, working the graveyard shift will soon be listed as a "probable" cause of cancer.

It is a surprising step validating a concept once considered wacky. And it is based on research that finds higher rates of breast and prostate cancer among women and men whose work day starts after dark.

Next month, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the cancer arm of the World Health Organization, will add overnight shift work as a probable carcinogen. The American Cancer Society says it will likely follow. Up to now, the U.S. organization has considered the work-cancer link to be "uncertain, controversial or unproven."

The higher cancer rates don't prove working overnight can cause cancer. There may be other factors common among graveyard shift workers that raise their risk for cancer.

However, scientists suspect that overnight work is dangerous because it disrupts the circadian rhythm, the body's biological clock. The hormone melatonin, which can suppress tumor development, is normally produced at night.

read more here.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Global View Shows Link Between Endometrial Cancer and Vitamin D Status

Vitamin D is produced in your skin in reaction to sunlight. Sure, there's fortified milk, etc., but this is the very best way to get it. Don't be afraid of the sun, it's your friend!

Again, I don't use sunscreen for this very reason, among others. People look at me as if I am crazy/bad mom. We need natural light! We don't go out in the middle of the day, and no one's gotten burned during all our time at the beach this summer, btw. Having plenty of antioxidants helps!

Supplementing in the winter time might be a good idea. Here's health expert Dr. Christiane Northrup on Vitamin D and its link to breast cancer, and some supplementation guidelines.


Newswise — Using newly available data on worldwide cancer incidence, researchers at the Moores Cancer Center at University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have shown a clear association between deficiency in exposure to sunlight, specifically ultraviolet B (UVB), and endometrial cancer.

UVB exposure triggers photosynthesis of vitamin D3 in the body. This form of vitamin D is also available through diet and supplements. Previous studies from this research team have shown associations between higher levels of vitamin D3 and lower risk of cancers of the breast, colon, kidney and ovary.

Approximately 200,000 cases and 50,000 deaths from endometrial cancer occur annually worldwide, including 41,000 new cases and 7,400 deaths in the United States.

The study will be published November 16, 2007, in the journal Preventive Medicine.

“This is the first study, to our knowledge, to show that higher serum levels of vitamin D are associated with reduced risk of endometrial cancer,” said Cedric F. Garland, Dr. P.H., professor of Family and Preventive Medicine in the UCSD School of Medicine, and member of the Moores UCSD Cancer Center. “Previous epidemiological studies have focused on estrogen levels – either natural or through hormone replacement therapy – which play the major role in development of the disease, and on fat intake, which plays a smaller role. Since most women cannot control their natural levels of estrogen, and very low levels of fat intake are not acceptable to most American women, this article provides evidence that vitamin D adequacy should be considered as part of a comprehensive program for prevention of this cancer.”

This paper used worldwide data only recently available through a new tool called GLOBOCAN, developed by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. GLOBOCAN is a database of cancer incidence, mortality and prevalence for 175 countries.

The researchers created a graph with a vertical axis for endometrial cancer incidence rates, and a horizontal axis for latitude. The latitudes range from -50 for the southern hemisphere, to zero for the equator, to +70 for the northern hemisphere. They then plotted incidence rates for 175 countries according to latitude. The resulting chart was a parabolic curve that looks like a smile.

“In general, endometrial cancer incidence was highest at the highest latitudes in both hemispheres,” said Garland. “Even after controlling for known variables such as cloud cover, meat intake, weight, skin pigmentation and others, the association remained strong.”

In the paper, the authors caution that this was a study of aggregates, or countries, rather than individuals; findings that apply to aggregates may not apply to individuals. They recommend further research to study individuals for the effect of vitamin D from sunlight, diet and supplements on the risk of endometrial cancer.

This is the third environmental paper from this research team to show a strong association between vitamin D and cancer using global incidence data (GLOBOCAN). The first paper, which illuminated a similar pattern for kidney cancer, was published Sept. 15, 2006, in the International Journal of Cancer. The second, on ovarian cancer, was published Oct. 31, 2006, in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Overpriced Eggs?

Wow! This is an ad from the Brown Daily Herald, our student newspaper. They have ads like this all the time, but this one is the most $$$ I've ever seen--it's usually more like $50K. I can't imagine the PRESSURE on this poor little gamete.

I'm also not quite sure what the value system is here. Yours truly went to this fine institution, and as with anything, there were plenty of good eggs and bad eggs.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Deep Voiced Men Father More Children


In evolutionary terms, Barry White's rich, bass voice may hit all the right notes – a new study among modern-day hunter-gatherers shows that men with the deepest voices produce significantly more children than their more falsetto counterparts. The finding helps explain why men have evolved lower voices than women, say researchers.

Scientists have long known that women perceive men with deep voices as sexy, healthier, and more dominant. Previous studies have even shown that women show the strongest preference for low-pitched voices at the most fertile phase in their menstrual cycle.

This background research hinted that men with the deepest voices had the most luck with the ladies, giving them an evolutionary edge.

However, the use of modern-day contraceptives makes it difficult to link voice range with fertility. So experts lacked hard evidence to back up the notion that men with bass voices had any real reproductive advantage over those talking in tenor tones.

'Huge difference'

Coren Apicella at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US, and her colleagues found a way around this challenge by studying the Hadza, one of the last remaining hunter-gatherer cultures in the world. The Hadza women generally dig for root plants and gather fruits, while men primarily hunt animals and collect honey. The Hadza, who live in Tanzania, have no modern birth control and practice serial monogamy.

Apicella recorded 49 Hadza men saying the Swahili word hujambo, which loosely translates as ‘hello’ in English, and calculated their voice pitch using computer analysis. She also recorded their age and the number of children they had fathered.

On average, the men had 4.8 children and a voice pitch of around 115 Hz. After controlling for possible confounding factors, such as age, researchers discovered that men with the lowest voices had the most children. For example, men who had an average voice pitch around 90 Hz had about two more children on average than those with a super-high voice around 160 Hz.

"That's a huge difference" in terms of reproductive success, says David Puts, an anthropologist at Penn State in University Park, Pennsylvania, US, who studies voice preferences.

Hormone link

Puts explains that men typically have deep voices as a result of high testosterone levels. High levels of this hormone cause the vocal cords to lengthen and thicken, and therefore vibrate at a lower frequency.

"Testosterone is associated with all sorts of things, like high libido and physical competitive ability," Puts notes. He adds that there appears to be a connection between testosterone and sperm quality, which might explain why the Hadza men with low-pitched voices fathered the most children.

Another possible explanation is that women prefer men with deep voices because such men are perceived as holding higher social status, says Puts.

Researchers speculate that evolution favoured men with deeper voices, and that this perhaps explains why men's voices are so much lower than that of women. For example, while Hadza men have an average voice pitch of 115 Hz, the women average around 210 Hz.

However, Apicella notes that some of the children listed by the Hadza men as being their own, might have in fact been fathered by other members of the group. This, she says, allows for an alternate explanation for her findings: "Maybe men with lower pitched voices feel more confident to say the children are theirs."

Journal reference: Biology Letters (DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2007.0410)

Monday, November 26, 2007

REVIEW: Enfusia Vanilla Body Lotion--Holiday Present idea?

The holiday season is here. So what to get fertile friends or self?

I'm not a big lotions 'n' potions kind of person.
Normally, I just use straight shea butter or olive oil or coconut oil as my simple and effective (and cheap!)

Not to mention non-toxic. We already know about how bad parabens are, but did you know artificial fragrances are a no-no (musks, for example, can even throw off your hormones, and they often put weird chemicals in them to disperse the fragrances)? Plain essential oils, ideally organic, are the way to go.

But sometimes it's nice to have a little treat, and I REALLY like this Enfusia Vanilla body lotion. It's very lightweight (too lightweight to use as a massage lotion) and an extra swipe of it can calm the frizzy ends of hair (how versatile). MAN FERTILITY commented on the fertility friendly* scent. Organic ingredients and no chemicals, and I have to admit, sometimes it's nice having a pump action dispenser instead of digging coconut oil out of a jar.

*Vanilla has good fertility mojo, historically a well-known aphrodisiac, according to the Susun Weed newsletter, as an "
essential oil that stimulates sexuality," along with rose, sandalwood, ylang/ylang, patchouli, cinnamon.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Are Antimicrobial Soaps Breeding Tougher Bugs?

I'm always puzzled about why we have to get so martial about everything, we must KILL all microbes, wage have a WAR on cancer, drugs, etc.

About maknig the world 100% sanitary (i.e., dead), so far doesn't seem too effective, probably only adds more carcinogenic chemicals to your load. Again, I repeat, we are made of microbes. If you read my Natural Health article, you'll see that adding a few nice bacteria via kimchi, etc., helps a lot more than trying to (to paraphrase Alice's Restaurant) Kill! KILL!!! KILLL!


Some Experts Say Risks Outweigh Benefits

By Ranit Mishori
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, November 13, 2007; Page HE01

If cleanliness is next to godliness, modern America is the land of the faithful -- fighting the good fight against today's so-called superbugs with sparkling countertops and well-washed hands.

Our culture's cleanliness obsession has been fed by a booming business in household products that promise the virtue of sterility. According to estimates by the Environmental Protection Agency, our antimicrobial crusade has us spending almost $1 billion annually on soaps and detergents, toys and cutting boards, bedsheets and toothbrushes, all of them treated with chemical compounds designed to kill the germs that cling to them. At the forefront of this product niche is the antimicrobial hand wash, commonly fortified with the bug-battling chemical triclosan.

It may be a dangerous, germ-filled world out there, but with your little bottle of -- choose one: Dial, Safeguard, Palmolive -- you can stroll worry-free through it.

Or so you may think.

The problem about our obsession with killing germs, some scientists and public health advocates warn, is that it may ultimately do us more harm than good.

read more here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Paris Hilton 'Loves Everything About Korea'

See how healthy Paris Hilton will be, as she like Korean food (and, presumably, kimchi) From the Korea Times:

American celebrity Paris Hilton
By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
Staff Reporter

A barrage of flashing cameras greeted hotel heiress and American celebrity Paris Hilton when she attended her first press conference in Seoul, Friday.

Hilton, who is currently in Seoul for a promotional tour sponsored by sportswear brand Fila Korea, smiled and showed off her trademark pose for photographers and cameramen at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.

With her upswept blonde hair and glowing tan, Hilton wore a gold puffer vest, hot pink track jacket, gray tank top and purple track pants. Everything she wore, except for a pink Chanel purse, was from Fila's collection, which she is endorsing.

The 27-year old fashionista, who is often seen wearing high-end designer brands, declared she loves the Fila brand. ``I love Fila. Girls who wear Fila have great style too. I love to mix the colors. The Fila brand comes in all different colors, so I can mix and match them. My favorite color is pink, so I wore this today,'' she said.

This is her first time in Korea, so she gushed about the beautiful Korean scenery. Hilton also said she loved bibimbap and would like to eat more of it during her trip.

read more here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Who Are You Also Known As? Adoption and the American Family

Here's a great essay from Hollee McGinnis on the NYTimes blog:

Like many adopted people I never had a simple answer to the question, “Where did I come from?” For most people raised by their biological parents, this question can be answered by simply gazing at their parent’s face. There in the turn of a nose and the curve of the eye they are reminded of where they came from. bounded by blood, a part of a human continuum passed from mother to daughter, from father to son.

The author, the day she arrived in the United States, walking off the plane at J.F.K. airport. (Photographs courtesy of Hollee McGinnis.)

I, on the other hand, seemingly dropped out of the sky on a Boeing 747, walking, talking and potty trained. I was adopted in May 1975 at the age of 3 ½ with just the clothes on my back: a little red pant suit and vest, and white sweater trimmed in red. I have no memories of that day I arrived in America – but I have been told stories so many times that I feel like I remember: running up and down the escalators of John F. Kennedy airport after being cooped up in an airplane for 28 hours; my parents giving me lollipops because I was too big for a pacifier to quiet me on the ride to my new home in the suburbs of New York City; and pushing the Uncle Ben’s white rice on the floor the first morning and eating the Entenmanns’s coffee cakes instead.

My parents told me that summer of my arrival I would sing and talk in Korean. Of course they never knew what I was saying. They also told me that in those first weeks I would run up to the front door, throw my body up against it and cry and cry and say in Korean, “Jip e ka le!” My sister, born to my parents and age 9 at the time, thought it might be some strange Korean game. So she would run up to the door, throw her body against it and say, “Jip e ka le!” I can imagine my sister doing this over and over – and turning my tears into laughter. Years later my parents learned what my Korean words meant: I want to go home.

Read more here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Article on Healing Fermented Foods in Natural Health

"10 Power Foods" is written by yours truly.

Check it out--I think the standard American diet (SAD)'s lack of "living" foods is another thing that leaves us vulnerable to superbugs like MRSA. Not only do we know someone who DIED after a routine surgery due to a clostridia difficile infection, almost everyone we know gets a staph infection.

Putting in just a little "good bacteria" can help keep the body in harmony instead of going in with the sledgehammer antibiotics that create more bugs via mutation (unless you are one of those Creationist believers and are therefore safe). When I was visitng my aunt in a hospital in Korea I noticed they give all patients a probiotic drink as part of their care--how smart.

Sorry, there's no link.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Telling the Stories Behind the Abortions

Telling the Stories Behind the Abortions

Anne Sherwood for The New York Times

"Because it is such a secret, we lose sight of how common it is." - Dr. Susan Wicklund

This is the flip side of fertility. I know a lot of pro-life people who have no problem with "selective reduction" of multiple embryos. Hey, people, that's abortion!

My other bugaboo is how being pro-choice is seen as being pro-abortion--nothing could be further from that! (p.s., and abortions went DOWN under, and I harbor particularly ire for people who try to tell others what to do and don't keep their own counsel. Here's my WashPost piece on my interesting experience at Planned Parenthood, with protesters

And by the way, pro-lifers take note, parts of the MMR vaccine are cultured in an aborted fetus (they need human tissue, but they can't use a miscarriage, because that would predispose DNA damage...). You can look this up in the Physicians' Desk Reference. I never understood why the Catholic church, et al never takes issue with this.

Published: November 6, 2007

Dr. Susan Wicklund took her first step toward the front line of the abortion wars when she was in her early 20s, a high school graduate with a few community college credits, working dead-end jobs.

She became pregnant. She had an abortion. It was legal, but it was ghastly.

Her counseling, she recalls, was limited to instructions to pay in advance, in cash, and to go to the emergency room if she had a problem. During the procedure itself, her every question drew the same response: “Shut up!”

Determined that other women should have better reproductive care, she began work as an apprentice midwife and eventually finished college, earned a medical degree and started a practice in which she spends about 90 percent of her time on abortion services. Much of her work is in underserved regions on the Western plains, at clinics that she visits by plane.

In her forthcoming book “This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor” (Public Affairs), Dr. Wicklund describes her work, the circumstances that lead her patients to choose abortion, and the barriers — lack of money, lack of providers, violence in the home or protesters at clinics — that stand in their way.

But she said her main goal with the book was to encourage more open discussion of abortion and its prevalence.

“We don’t talk about it,” she said in a telephone interview. “People say, ‘Nobody I know has ever had an abortion,’ and that is just not true. Their sisters, their mothers have had abortions.”

Dr. Wicklund, 53, said that at current rates almost 40 percent of American women have an abortion during their child-bearing years, a figure supported by the Guttmacher Institute, which researches reproductive health policy. Abortion is one of the most common operations in the United States, she said, more common than tonsillectomy or removal of wisdom teeth. “Because it is such a secret,” she said, “we lose sight of how common it is.”

But Dr. Wicklund acknowledges that abortion is an issue fraught with dilemmas. In the book, she describes witnessing, as a medical student, the abortion of a 21-week fetus. She writes that at the sight of its tiny arm she decided she would perform abortions only in the first trimester of pregnancy. She says late-term abortions should be legal, but her decision means she occasionally sees desperate women she must refuse to help.

Dr. Wicklund describes her horror when she aborted the pregnancy of a woman who had been raped, only to discover, by examining the removed tissue, that the pregnancy was further along than she or the woman had thought — and that she had destroyed an embryo the woman and her husband had conceived together. And she describes the way she watches and listens as the women she treats tell why they want to end their pregnancies. If she detects uncertainty or thinks they may be responding to the wishes of anyone other than themselves, she says, she tells them to think it over a bit longer.

On the other hand, Dr. Wicklund has little use for requirements like 24-hour waiting periods, or for assertions like those of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who said in a recent Supreme Court decision on abortion that the government had an interest in protecting women from their own decisions in the matter.

“It’s so incredibly insulting,” Dr. Wicklund said in the interview. “The 24-hour waiting period implies that women don’t think about it on their own and have to have the government forcing it on them. To me a lot of the abortion restrictions are about control of women, about power, and it’s insulting.”

Dr. Wicklund said she would put more credence in opponents of abortion rights if they did more to help women prevent unwanted pregnancies. Instead, she said, many of the protesters she encounters “are against birth control, period.” That is unfortunate, she said, because her clinic experience confirms studies showing that emphasizing abstinence rather than contraception may cause girls to delay their first sexual experience for a few months, but “when they do have intercourse they are much less likely to protect themselves with birth control or a condom.”

According to the Guttmacher Institute, about a quarter of pregnancies in the United States end in abortion. Dr. Wicklund says that is why she believes far more people favor abortion rights than are willing to admit it in polls. For example, she said in the interview, an abortion ban that seemed to have wide support in South Dakota was put to a vote and “when people got behind those curtains and nobody was watching it was overwhelmingly defeated. Unfortunately, people are not willing to say what they really think.”

One of these people might be a woman she recognized as one of the protesters who regularly appeared, shouting, outside a clinic where she worked. Only now the woman was in the waiting room, desperate to end an unwanted pregnancy. Dr. Wicklund performed the procedure.

And then there is Dr. Wicklund’s maternal grandmother, a woman she was afraid would disapprove of her work. But it turned out that she had a story of her own. “When I was 16 years old, my best friend got pregnant,” is how the story began. Her friend turned to her and her sister for help. They did the only thing they could think of — putting “something long and sharp ‘up there,’ ” according to the book. The girl bled to death, and the cause of her death was kept secret.

“I know exactly what kind of work you do,” the grandmother told Dr. Wicklund, “and it is a good thing.” One question Dr. Wicklund hears “all the time,” she said, is how she can focus on abortion rather than on something more rewarding, like delivering babies.

“In fact, the women are so grateful,” Dr. Wicklund said in the interview. “Women are so grateful to know they can get through this safely, that they can still get pregnant again.

“It is one of the few areas of medicine where you are not working with a sick person, you are doing something for them that gives them back their life, their control,” she added. “It’s a very rewarding thing to be part of that.”

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Household cleaning sprays and air fresheners can raise the risk of asthma in adults

Yech. Why I like vinegar and baking soda:

Newswise — Using household cleaning sprays and air fresheners as little as once a week can raise the risk of developing asthma in adults, say researchers in Europe. Such products have been associated with increased asthma rates in cleaning professionals, but a similar effect in nonprofessional users has never before been shown.

“Frequent use of household cleaning sprays may be an important risk factor for adult asthma,” wrote lead author Jan-Paul Zock, Ph.D., of the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology at the Municipal Institute of Medical Research in Barcelona, Spain.

The epidemiological study, the first to investigate the effects of cleaning products on occasional users rather than occupational users, appeared in the second issue for October of the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The investigators used baseline data from the first phase of the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS I), one of the world's largest epidemiologic studies of airway disease, and interviews conducted in the follow-up phase, ECRHS II. Altogether, the study included more than 3,500 subjects across 22 centers in 10 European countries. Subjects were assessed for current asthma, current wheeze, physician-diagnosed asthma and allergy at follow-up, which took place an average of nine years after their first assessment. They were also asked to report the number of times per week they used cleaning products.

Two-thirds of the study population who reported doing the bulk of cleaning were women, about six percent of whom had asthma at the time of follow-up. Fewer than ten percent of them were full-time homemakers.

The risk of developing asthma increased with frequency of cleaning and number of different sprays used, but on average was about thirty to fifty percent higher in people regularly exposed to cleaning sprays than in others. The researchers found that cleaning sprays, especially air fresheners, furniture cleaners and glass-cleaners, had a particularly strong effect.

“Our findings are consistent with occupational epidemiological studies in which increased asthma risk was related to professional use of sprays among both domestic and non-domestic cleaning women,” wrote Dr. Zock. “This indicates a relevant contribution of spray use to the burden of asthma in adults who do the cleaning in their homes.”

The design of the study was not intended to determine the biological mechanism behind the increase in asthma with exposure to cleaning sprays, but Dr. Zock and colleagues propose a number of hypotheses, including the possibility that asthma is partially irritant-induced, that sprays contain sensitizers that are specific to asthma, and/or that an inflammatory response is involved in asthma development. “There is a need for researchers to conduct further studies to elucidate both the extent and mechanism of the respiratory toxicity associated with such products,” noted Dr. Zock.

Despite the uncertainty of the biological mechanism, the findings have important clinical relevance. “Clinicians should be aware of the potential for cleaning products used in the home to cause respiratory symptoms and possibly asthma,” wrote Kenneth D. Rosenman, M.D., professor at Michigan State University, in an editorial in the same issue of the journal.

The research may have also significant implications for public health. “The relative risk rates of developing adult asthma in relation to exposure to cleaning products could account for as much as 15 percent, or one in seven of adult asthma cases,” wrote Dr. Zock.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Warning issued over egg freezing

I think this is kind of interesting. First, from a GreenFertility point of view for pretty much everything, fresh is better than frozen!

And in this "other" context (i.e., not the high-tech big promises marketing lit of the IVF clinic), you see how the chances of this fancy technology working are actually rather dismal.

From the BBC:


Mother and baby
Egg freezing should not be offered to women who want to put off having a family purely for lifestyle reasons, say experts.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) warned the procedure was still experimental, and the chances of success poor.

It said it would be wrong to give women a false sense of hope. Instead they should be offered counselling...

Dr Marc Fritz, of the ASRM, said it would be wrong for women who have frozen their eggs to think they had ensured their future fertility.

He said: "Existing medical evidence simply does not justify that conclusion."

The ASRM estimates that the overall live birth rate from frozen eggs is as low as 2% per egg.

It warned the figures may be even lower for women over 35 - the age at which fertility begins to decline rapidly.

Dr Fritz said a 25-year-old woman freezing her eggs now would have more chance of achieving a pregnancy through IVF using her fresh eggs when she was 35.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Reading in Mankato, MN

If you're happening to be around Mankato MN, please come see me read at the Good Thunder Reading Series: