HPV vaccine in universal immunisation could bring up old fears

Cervical cancer is the second most cause of cancer among women in India. Chances of contracting it can be significantly reduced by regular screening, something experts have been strongly calling for, but has proved difficult to implement in India's public healthcare system.

That the Central health ministry is planning to roll out the vaccine to counter the human papilloma virus (HPV) a part of its universal immunisation programme is bound to bring up an already controversy ridden debate about the safety and the efficacy of the vaccine in India, given its chequered past. HPV, which can cause cervical cancer has been a leading cause of concern for health specialists around the globe, leading to a push for the vaccine. However, a number of health activists in India have been opposing this move by the government on grounds of the available vaccine's safety.

Cervical cancer is the second most cause of cancer among women in India. Chances of contracting it can be significantly reduced by regular screening, something experts have been strongly calling for, but has proved difficult to implement in India's public healthcare system. There are two vaccines available in India -- Gardasil marketed by Merck and Cervarix marketed by Glaxosmithkline. GAVI, The Vaccine Alliance, and international group supporting vaccines in different countries, has reportedly offered India $500 million to roll out the HPV vaccine along with others.

GAVI has also supported the HPV vaccine across countries in Africa, and in Bangladesh, evaluating the impact in these countries. However, in August, health activists had reportedly written to the ministry to stop the introduction of the HPV vaccine to the immunisation programme, saying that the European Medical Agency was still reviewing the vaccine and that both the available vaccines' clinical trials were lacking. The HPV vaccine brings up bad memories for many concerned as in 2009, in a study sponsored by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation seven of the 24,777 adolescent girls participating, most from adivasi areas in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, died. Experts till this day dispute the fact that their deaths were linked to the vaccine. However, the damage was done, and the Indian Council of Medical Research put a stop to the study. Later, new rules were drafted for the introduction of drugs and for clinical trials.

In December itself, an article in the science journal Nature, upheld the need for an HPV vaccine, and for dispelling this mistrust surrounding it. It also said that the European Medical Agency had confirmed the vaccine's safety, thus weakening the case of those opposing the vaccine.
 

Winter Tips for Healthy Living

1. Enjoy the Benefits of Yogurt

It's creamy smooth, packed with flavor -- and just may be the wonder food you've been craving. Research suggests that that humble carton of yogurt may:

Ready to take home a few cartons of yummy yogurt? When buying think low-fat, make sure the yogurt contains active cultures andvitamin D, and keep tabs on sugar content.

2. Help Holiday Heartburn

Getting hit with heartburn over the holidays? Help is at hand! Try these hints and you can stop the burn before it starts:

Nibble: Enjoy your favorite foods -- but in moderation. No need to heap on the goodies (or go back for seconds and thirds!). Packing yourstomach with food makes heartburn much more likely.

Know Your Triggers: Certain foods feed heartburn's flame. Typical triggers include foods full of sugar and fat -- think pumpkin pie slathered with whipped cream. Instead reach for complex carbs like veggies and whole-wheat breads -- or at least share that dessert!

Get Up: Stretching out for a nap post-meal is a great way to guarantee you'll get reflux. Instead, keep your head higher than your stomach -- or keep right on walking, away from the dinner table and out the door. Light exercise is a great way to prevent heartburn.

3. Kiss Holiday Cold Sores Good-bye

Holidays: That busy time for toasting the coming year, savoring seasonal sweets, staying up late -- and cold sores?

If you find you're more prone to cold sores (also called fever blisters) during the hectic holiday season, you may be your own worst enemy. That's because lack of sleep, too much alcohol or sugar, stress, and close physical contact (think auntie's smooches) can all contribute to outbreaks.

So, to help keep your kisser cold-sore-free this year -- or to keep from passing your cold sores to others -- try these tips:

  • Don't overdo the holiday goodies -- maintain a healthy diet.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Don't share food or drink containers.
  • Discard used tissues.
  • Don't kiss on or near anyone's cold sore -- and don't let them near yours!
  • 6. Eat Locally continued...

     

    Some nutritionists think eating locally may be even more important than eating organically. That's because a vital factor in a food's nutrient profile is how long it took to get from farm to table: A head of locally grown lettuce, for example, may be more nutrient-dense than one shipped coast to coast.

    Does this mean you should forgo pesticide-free foods when they're available? No, but it's a great idea to make room on your plate for locally-grown goods too, even if they haven't been grown the organic way. Better yet: Eat locally and organic, when you can.

    An easy way to get local -- and often organic -- food on the table: Join a CSA (community-supported agriculture). CSAs help you form a relationship with a local farm, which then provides you with fresh, local produce, even milk, eggs, or cheese. Some also function twelve months a year. Find a CSA near you at LocalHarvest.org.

     

    7. Try These 3 Simple Diet & Exercise Tips

    Go Slow: You don't need to do a diet slash-and-burn. If you cut just 200 calories a day you'll see slow (and easy) weight loss. Skip a pat of butter here, a cookie there and you're on your way!

    Start Small: Banning junk food from the cupboards or boosting fiber may be your goal, but think baby steps. Switch from potato chips to low-fat popcorn, for example, or toss a carrot into your brown bag lunch.

    Just Show Up: Don't feel like working out today? Don those exercise clothes anyway. Still not in the mood? Fine. But chances are good that once you're dressed, you're also motivated and ready to go!

    8. Invest in Your Health - Literally

    If you have a high-deductible insurance plan, you're probably eligible to deposit tax-free cash into a health savings account (HSA).

    HSAs help you sock away savings now for medical expenses later. Open an HSA and each year you can stash $3,050 for yourself ($6,150 for a family) -- tax-free. And if you don't use up the balance in your HSA this year, it simply rolls over into the next year, and the next -- and continues to grow tax-deferred. Intrigued? Talk to your human resources department to find out if you're eligible.

    Whichever healthy steps you take this year -- eating better, exercising more, saving -- remember they're an investment in you and your future. So follow these steps toward better health -- or take your own. Bank a little more sleep this year. Set aside stressful differences. Stock a healthier pantry. Salt away ... a little less salt. It's your body -- and your future!

Harmful bacteria can survive in cookies for months

Pathogens, like salmonella, can survive for at least six months in cookies and sandwich crackers, new research has found. 

The recent study was prompted by an increased number of outbreak of foodborne diseases linked to dry foods, said the researchers who wanted to see just how long bacteria that cause foodborne illness can survive in certain foods. 

"There have been an increased number of outbreaks of diseases associated with consumption of contaminated dry foods. We would not expect salmonella to grow in foods that have a very dry environment," said lead researcher Larry Beuchat from University of Georgia in the US. 

The researchers found that not only can harmful bacteria survive in dry foods, like cookie and cracker sandwiches, but they can also live for long periods of time. 

For the study, researchers used five different serotypes of salmonella that had been isolated from foods involved in previous foodborne outbreaks. 

"Isolates were from foods with very low moisture content," Beuchat said. 

Focusing on cookie and cracker sandwiches, the researchers put the salmonella into four types of fillings found in cookies or crackers and placed them into storage. 

The researchers used cheese and peanut butter fillings for the cracker sandwiches and chocolate and vanilla fillings for the cookie sandwiches. 

These "are the kind that we find in grocery stores or vending machines", Beuchat said. 

After storing, the scientists determined how long salmonella was able to survive in each filling. 

In some cases, the pathogen was able to survive for at least to six months in the sandwiches, the findings showed. 

"That was not expected," Beuchat said. 

The study was published in the Journal of Food Protection.
 
 

 

Stay updated on the go with Times of India News App. Click here to download it for your device.

Winter Tips for Healthy Living

1. Enjoy the Benefits of Yogurt

It's creamy smooth, packed with flavor -- and just may be the wonder food you've been craving. Research suggests that that humble carton of yogurt may:

Ready to take home a few cartons of yummy yogurt? When buying think low-fat, make sure the yogurt contains active cultures andvitamin D, and keep tabs on sugar content.

2. Help Holiday Heartburn

Getting hit with heartburn over the holidays? Help is at hand! Try these hints and you can stop the burn before it starts:

Nibble: Enjoy your favorite foods -- but in moderation. No need to heap on the goodies (or go back for seconds and thirds!). Packing yourstomach with food makes heartburn much more likely.

Know Your Triggers: Certain foods feed heartburn's flame. Typical triggers include foods full of sugar and fat -- think pumpkin pie slathered with whipped cream. Instead reach for complex carbs like veggies and whole-wheat breads -- or at least share that dessert!

Get Up: Stretching out for a nap post-meal is a great way to guarantee you'll get reflux. Instead, keep your head higher than your stomach -- or keep right on walking, away from the dinner table and out the door. Light exercise is a great way to prevent heartburn.

3. Kiss Holiday Cold Sores Good-bye

Holidays: That busy time for toasting the coming year, savoring seasonal sweets, staying up late -- and cold sores?

If you find you're more prone to cold sores (also called fever blisters) during the hectic holiday season, you may be your own worst enemy. That's because lack of sleep, too much alcohol or sugar, stress, and close physical contact (think auntie's smooches) can all contribute to outbreaks.

So, to help keep your kisser cold-sore-free this year -- or to keep from passing your cold sores to others -- try these tips:

  • Don't overdo the holiday goodies -- maintain a healthy diet.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Don't share food or drink containers.
  • Discard used tissues.
  • Don't kiss on or near anyone's cold sore -- and don't let them near yours!
  • 6. Eat Locally continued...

     

    Some nutritionists think eating locally may be even more important than eating organically. That's because a vital factor in a food's nutrient profile is how long it took to get from farm to table: A head of locally grown lettuce, for example, may be more nutrient-dense than one shipped coast to coast.

    Does this mean you should forgo pesticide-free foods when they're available? No, but it's a great idea to make room on your plate for locally-grown goods too, even if they haven't been grown the organic way. Better yet: Eat locally and organic, when you can.

    An easy way to get local -- and often organic -- food on the table: Join a CSA (community-supported agriculture). CSAs help you form a relationship with a local farm, which then provides you with fresh, local produce, even milk, eggs, or cheese. Some also function twelve months a year. Find a CSA near you at LocalHarvest.org.

     

    7. Try These 3 Simple Diet & Exercise Tips

    Go Slow: You don't need to do a diet slash-and-burn. If you cut just 200 calories a day you'll see slow (and easy) weight loss. Skip a pat of butter here, a cookie there and you're on your way!

    Start Small: Banning junk food from the cupboards or boosting fiber may be your goal, but think baby steps. Switch from potato chips to low-fat popcorn, for example, or toss a carrot into your brown bag lunch.

    Just Show Up: Don't feel like working out today? Don those exercise clothes anyway. Still not in the mood? Fine. But chances are good that once you're dressed, you're also motivated and ready to go!

    8. Invest in Your Health - Literally

    If you have a high-deductible insurance plan, you're probably eligible to deposit tax-free cash into a health savings account (HSA).

    HSAs help you sock away savings now for medical expenses later. Open an HSA and each year you can stash $3,050 for yourself ($6,150 for a family) -- tax-free. And if you don't use up the balance in your HSA this year, it simply rolls over into the next year, and the next -- and continues to grow tax-deferred. Intrigued? Talk to your human resources department to find out if you're eligible.

    Whichever healthy steps you take this year -- eating better, exercising more, saving -- remember they're an investment in you and your future. So follow these steps toward better health -- or take your own. Bank a little more sleep this year. Set aside stressful differences. Stock a healthier pantry. Salt away ... a little less salt. It's your body -- and your future!

Verily, Google’s Health Gambit, Is Stacked With Scientists. Now It Needs to Build a Business.

One plausible way to describe Google is as a high-tech university subsidized by search ads. There’s the wacky experiments, the employee cafeterias and coddling, and the appetite for hiring the smartest people in the world.

On that last point, the exemplar is its life sciences division. Launched two years ago with the hiring of esteemed cell biologist Andy Conrad, the research unit spun out of the Google X lab when Alphabet formed and rebranded last week to Verily. In the past year, it has bulked up an already impressive roster of medical experts, poaching top researchers from universities and government.

For the scientists, Google’s appeal is clear: It gives top-notch tech resources at their disposal, and an almost endless supporting budget. For Alphabet, the entrance into health fits its edict of applying tech to massive global problems. Also, health is a gargantuan market: U.S. spending is estimated to hit $3 trillion this year, more than a sixth of GDP. Verily is entering the market with a confluence of factors — the digitization of records and rapid advances in medical equipment, genetic engineering and machine intelligence — that make health care irresistible for the tech industry.

Projects: Wearables for diabetes, multiple sclerosis; clinical studies for nanodiagnostics; medical robots; etc.

Key Execs: Andy Conrad, CEO; Brian Otis, chief technical officer; Jessica Mega, chief medical officer; Karen Ouk, business development principal

The company has announced seven medical partnerships, two research projects and one acquisition. Several more experiments are under way.

“It’s not science fiction,” Vikram Bajaj, Verily’s chief scientific officer, said in its slick debut video. “It’s practical, real scientific development.”

But, so far, those announcements are just that. Only one project has begun human trials, a key step before commercialization. And some in the bio-tech industry wonder whether Verily’s far-reaching research ambition comes at the expense of moving things to market. The research lab has made very ambitious pledges but showed scant evidence of making them realities, said one bio-tech investor familiar with the company. “They’re very good at PR,” this person said. “They use every possible buzzword.”

As it shifts into a standalone company, Verily is thinking about how to turn the buzzwords into a business. It is currently hiring and hunting for several business development positions, looking inside Google and elsewhere.

“We’re both in the middle of hiring a ton of additional members,” said Jorge Valdes, CTO of Dexcom, one of Verily’s medical partners. He described the partnership in glowing terms, but stressed that the fruits — two high-tech glucose monitors for diabetics — demand a long timeline. “It’s probably not going to happen overnight,” he said.

In some ways, Verily is very Googley. Google aimed to organize all the information online; Verily wants to organize all the information about our bodies.

Yet the company, unlike the other Alphabet ones we’ve looked at, operates in a quite different industry from the Internet. And its rebranded debut comes as health tech, given the thorny Theranos situation, faces rising scrutiny over the gaps between lofty promise and execution.

What to Know

One part of Verily’s business is fairly simple: It develops miniaturized medical devices (like its smart contact lens) and advanced software, then licenses these to pharmaceutical and medical companies which will, presumably, sell them. But Verily is also going deeper into the medical field. It’s running several clinical studies and experimenting with geneticengineering sequencing and drug discovery.

Some of these pursuits haven’t been made public yet. Here’s what is. (Ready? It’s long.):

  • Diabetes partnerships: Verily has named the disease its first formal target and cut deals with three health care companies: Novartis, Dexcom and Sanofi. The Dexcom devices are “a few years away,” said Valdes. A Sanofi rep declined to comment. The CEO of Novartis, which is marketing Verily’s contact lens, told press the device would begin human trials next year — but for treatment on a sight disease, not diabetes. Novartis wouldn’t comment. Babak Parviz, the Googler who led the product’s creation, departed for Amazon last year.
  • Multiple sclerosis partnerships: Google first aimed at this immune system disease in January, through a deal with bio-tech firm Biogen that includes the development of wearable sensors. Ann Romney, Mitt’s wife, is involved.
  • Nanodiagnostics: This could be the most Googley one there is. Slap on a wearable device and swallow a tiny pill — Verily’s researchers see this as the future of how your doctor may spot problems. It’s in the “early stages,” according to the company.
  • BaselineAnother far-out one. It’s an attempt to develop a comprehensive snapshot of what a healthy, or baseline, person looks like. Previous studies have looked at fit folks over time. This one claims to deploy hitherto undeployed genomic, molecular and cellular science. It’s currently enrolling participants for a pilot version of the study.
  • Liftware: A year ago, Google acquired Lift Labs, a startup behind a $295 spoon designed with tremor control for Parkinson’s disease patients. Alphabet CEO Larry Page has lauded the device multiple times in public. It’s Verily’s only acquisition so far.
  • Robots: In March, Google inked a deal with Johnson & Johnson to develop medical robots through a joint venture. On Thursday, the companies announced the joint venture had a new CEO and name, Verb Surgical.
  • Heart disease: After diabetes, this is focus number two. Verily signed a $50 million funding commitment to the American Heart Association last month.
  • Mental health: Here’s a likely number three. Tom Insel, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health, joined Verily in October. No word on what he’s up to.

Who to Know

True to Alphabet form, Verily’s CEO Conrad calls most of the shots. But he’s surrounded by a growing team of medical expertise. (In total, Verily is a “few hundred” employees is all a rep will share.)

Jessica Mega, Chief Medical Officer, Verily

Jessica Mega, chief medical officer, Verily

Brian Otis, CTO, joined Google X in 2012 from the University of Washington. With Parviz, he co-created the contact lens and his wizardry in embedding chips and sensors into devices sits behind Verily’s hardware. Another big academic hire was Harvard Medical School’sJessica Mega, considered one of the leading researchers on cardiovascular disease. She heads up the Baseline study.

Last month, Verily made a less splashy but just as critical hire: Karen Ouk, who joins as the business development principal. She didn’t move far. Ouk has spent 12 years at Google, working as a strategic partner manager for a range of units, including Shopping, Google X and Fiber. She’s well respected inside Google, but Verily will need to add more seasoned business hands like Ouk, particularly ones that know how to navigate the world of health and tech.

Where It Stands

In June of 2014, Sanofi, a French pharma giant, and Medtronic, an Irish medical device maker, broadcasted a “strategic alliance” to improve medical outcomes for diabetes patients. By the next summer, that alliance was undone.

In walked Google, which cut a similar deal with Sanofi. That could be a pattern if the Alphabet company can keep flaunting its high-tech chops and medical experts to lure in the health industry. The Sanofi terms were undisclosed, but the Dexcom deal gives us some financial clues — Dexcom paid $100 million upfront to be the exclusive distributor of Verily’s intellectual property; then it will pay out a royalty fee down the line, assuming the devices are commercialized.

With these pharma deals, Verily is going up against established medical and health care firms. It may soon face rivalry from other tech giants, Apple among them, dipping into health. Plus, scores of bio-tech startups could battle Verily for business. These startups with a singular focus (like genomic sequencing or applying data to cancer) may have an edge on Alphabet’s operation, which, despite its prestigious names, remains a two-year-old lab trying to do a wealth of things never done before.

Asked if Google’s newness in the medical space gave its partner pause, Dexcom’s Valdes batted the concern away. “This is a whole new area for everybody,” he said.

*So far, Alphabet has confirmed the existence of nine subsidiaries, including Google. It’s very likely that an additional one or two — or many — may get the official stamp before the earnings report in January. Rest assured, we will tell you about it if it happens.

 

Sunlight — It Does Your Body Good

Sunlight: we all feel better when we're exposed to it, but do you know why? Dr. Michael F. Holick, a foremost expert on vitamin D with an impressive list of credentials, is just the right person to explain the healing power of sunlight.

His academic credentials include chief of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Nutrition at Boston City Hospital and Boston University Medical Center from 1987 until 2000.

He's currently the director of Bone Health Care Clinic, and a professor of Medicine, Physiology, and Biophysics at Boston University Medical Center. He's also the director of the Boston University Heliotherapy, Light, and Skin research lab.

While enrolled at the University of Wisconsin, he worked with Dr. Hector DeLuca on vitamin D, and ended up getting his M.S. by identifying 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 as the major circulating form of vitamin D in the human blood stream.

This is the form you want to measure to determine your vitamin D status.

For his Ph.D. he identified the biologically active form of vitamin D as 1,25-dihydroxyfitamin D3. As a postdoctoral fellow he participated in the first chemical synthesis of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 that was used to treat bone disease in kidney failure patients.

Later, he became interested in understanding how vitamin D is made in the skin. So he worked out methods to determine how factors such as time of day, season, latitude, skin pigmentation, and obesity influence this cutaneous process.

"I also realized that the skin had vitamin D receptors," he says. "What that means is that the active form of vitamin D was working in the skin, and I wanted to know why. It turns out that active vitamin D inhibits skin cell growth and modulates it in a very important way.

I then realized that maybe you could use it to treat a very common hyperproliferative skin disorder: psoriasis. I basically introduced the concept, in the mid-'80s, of topically applying active vitamin D to treat psoriasis ...

I've also done lots of other studies looking at how vitamin D is absorbed by the body and its impact on your health."

Sunlight for Your Health

When you're exposed to sunlight, all of the sun's energy is hitting your skin. Over the past 40 years, dermatologists have promulgated the idea that you should never be exposed to direct sunlight because it will damage your skin and cause skin cancer.

What they fail to appreciate is that when you're exposed to sunlight, manyimportant biological processes occur in your skin. This is distinct from swallowing oral vitamin D.

While taking an oral vitamin D supplement will improve your vitamin D status, you forgo the benefits sunlight offers beyond vitamin D production.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of people have no alternative in the winter months. But in spring, summer, and fall, it's wise to take advantage of sensible sun exposure, using the app "dminder.info" which Dr. Holick discusses in his PowerPoint presentation, "Sunlight for Your Health."

Not only does sunlight make vitamin D in your skin; it also makes beta-endorphins, which makes you feel better, and nitric oxide, which can help lower your blood pressure, and a whole host of other chemicals that you don't get when taking a vitamin D supplement.

"It's important to realize that when you're exposed to sunlight, you're exposed to huge amount of energy that's penetrating into your body.

It's also important to know that the atmosphere absorbs most of the damaging radiation that the sun is releasing including x-rays, gamma radiation, and ultraviolet C (UVC) radiation.

So, when you look at the solar spectrum for how much UV is actually coming in to planet Earth, it's a very tiny amount. And of all of the energy that's coming in from sunlight, a very tiny amount of less than

1 percent is responsible for making vitamin D in your skin, estimated at about 0.1 percent ultraviolet B radiation ..."

The Difference Between UVA and UVB Radiation

There are two forms of UV radiation that reach the Earth's surface: UVA and UVB. The UVB has lower wavelength, but higher energy than UVA. Interestingly, even though it has the higher energy, it does not penetrate deeper into your skin than UVA.

The reason for this is because proteins DNA, RNA and other chemicals in your epidermis absorb UVB radiation very efficiently.

UVA radiation, on the other hand, is not as absorbed efficiently, so it penetrates deep into your dermis and can cause skin damage, including cross-linking of your collagen matrix, which increases your risk for wrinkles.

As your skin is exposed to sunlight, melanocytes in your skin make melanin, a skin pigment that acts as a natural sunscreen. UV exposure also causes cross-linking of your DNA, but your skin houses enzymes that specifically break apart and repair those cross-linked DNA.

So, your skin is actually perfectly designed to address and heal the DNA damage produced by sun exposure.

"If you look at the solar spectrum and you look at what radiation is responsible for causing burning and what radiation is causing vitamin D production, in fact, the erythema [skin reddening] occurs principally right at the peak level of where the vitamin D is being produced as well.

At noon time, about 15 percent of the redness of your skin occurs from UVA exposure but 85 percent is from the UVB. UVA will cause sun burn independent of UVB radiation.

The bottom line, of course, and the message that I've always been giving is that you never want to get a sun burn. That's the most damaging to your skin, increasing risk for skin cancer as well as wrinkling," Dr. Holick explains.

"Can sunlight damage the skin? I don't think there's any question that excessive exposure, especially on the top of your hands and of your face, can cause what's called actinic keratosis.

These are called pre-skin cancers. If you're constantly getting overexposure to sunlight, they can definitely become either basal or squamous cell carcinomas.

[However] these are skin cancers that are usually easy to detect and easy to treat. Melanoma is the deadliest skin cancer, [but] it turns out that most melanomas occur on the least sun exposed areas. Occupational sun exposure actually decreases risk for melanoma."

When and Where Can You Make Vitamin D in Response to Sun Exposure?

Research by Dr. Holick's team has shown that if you live north of Atlanta, Georgia, you cannot make vitamin D in your skin from about November through February. Even in Miami, Florida you only make about 10 to 20 percent of the vitamin D that you would make in the summer time.

One factor that will influence your ability to produce vitamin D at northern latitudes is your elevation. At about 15,000 feet, you can make robust amounts of vitamin D even in the winter, due to the fact that the sun's rays — which come in at a more oblique angle in the winter — have less atmosphere to penetrate at higher altitudes.

"We've also been taught to go out in the early morning and late afternoon to go jogging, make your vitamin D. It's [said to be] less damaging to your skin. But, it turns out to be probably one of the worst times to be outside because you're getting blasted by UVA radiation, which can alter your immune system and may even increase your risk for melanoma. But you make essentially no vitamin D," Dr. Holick warns.

"Vitamin D is made in your skin from about 10am until 3pm for the same reason that you only make vitamin D in the spring, summer, and fall. In the early morning and late afternoon, the sun's rays are more oblique and get absorbed by the ozone layer. As a result, you don't make vitamin D in your skin."

How Much Sun Exposure Is Required?

To determine this, Dr. Holick conducted a study to see how much vitamin D adults would produce by using a tanning bed just long enough to get a "minimal erythema dose".

They determined that this is equivalent to taking 15,000 to 20,000 IUs of vitamin D. As a general recommendation, Dr. Holick suggests starting your sun exposure in the spring, going out for about one-third to one-half of the time it typically takes for you to turn a slightly darker shade in the middle of the summer.

The app, dminder.info, that Dr. Holick helped develop, provides guidance for sensible sun exposure.

So for example, if you normally get red after 30 minutes of exposure at noontime in June, then start out by exposing your arms, legs, abdomen, and back, for 10 to 15 minutes per day. After that, put on some protective clothing to prevent excess exposure.

Each day, add a couple of more minutes to build up a tan. Keep in mind that the pigmentation of your skin will influence how much sun you can tolerate.

The skin pigment melanin is a natural sunscreen, absorbing UV light coming into your skin. As a result, it markedly reduces the efficiency of your skin to produce vitamin D. As a result, dark-skinned individuals need more sun exposure than light-skinned individuals to produce the same amount of vitamin D.

What's the Ideal Vitamin D Level?

What do you want your blood level to be? A study done in Africa on Maasai warriors, who are outside every day, showed they had a blood level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D averaging around 48 ng/ml. At present, a vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D) level between 40 and 60 ng/ml is thought to be ideal for optimal health and disease prevention.

"The Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guidelines Committee that makes the recommendations to physicians for how to treat or prevent vitamin D deficiency [say that] your level should be at least 30 ng/ml. Forty to 60 ng/ml is a good range, and we know up to 100 ng/ml is perfectly safe," Dr. Holick says, adding that: "It's estimated that improving vitamin D status worldwide could reduce healthcare cost across the board by about 25 percent."

How Vitamin D Benefits Your Immune Function

It's known that those who live at the lowest latitudes have the lowest risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease. We also know that if you live north of Atlanta, Georgia for the first 10 years of your life, you double your risk of developing MS for the rest of your life, no matter where you live.

Type 1 diabetes is another chronic condition that seems to be closely tied to vitamin D deficiency. If you live at the equator, you have a 15-fold reduced likelihood of developing type 1 diabetes than if you live in the far North. A 2001 study published in The Lancet showed that children given 2,000 IUs of vitamin D per day during their first year of life had an 88 percent reduced risk of getting type 1 diabetes.

Research has also shown that women who have the highest intake of vitamin D reduce their risk of rheumatoid arthritis by about 44 percent. And having a 25-hydroxyvitamin D level of 38 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) has been shown to reduce your risk of upper respiratory tract infections by about 50 percent.

"We also know that immune cells known as macrophages activate vitamin D for the purpose of programming the immune cells to help fight infections such as tuberculosis ...Thus vitamin D is so important in helping to fight infectious diseases."

In recent years, scientists have come to recognize that a gene found in your pituitary gland called the proopiomelanocortin (POMC) gene is also found in your skin cells. When your skin is exposed to UVB radiation, that gene is turned on. Dr. Holick explains how this gene helps modulate both inflammation and immune function:

"[The POMC] gene ... produces adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). This hormone tells your adrenal glands to make cortisol, which can help to modulate your immune system. It also has other effects including regulating other types of inflammatory activity ... So now we're beginning to understand why sun exposure helps reduce risk for autoimmune diseases."

Vitamin D Lowers Your Cancer Risk

Vitamin D is produced in your skin, and is then activated in your liver to 25-hydroxyvitamin D — the major circulating form. Next, it travels to your kidneys, where it gets activated to 1,25 dihydroxy vitamin D.

As far back as the 1970s and 1980s, researchers knew that your intestine, bone, and kidneys — organs that regulate calcium metabolism — have vitamin D receptors. These vitamin D receptors interact with the active form, which unlocks genetic information that increases intestinal calcium absorption, helps mobilize calcium from your bones, and conserve calcium in your kidneys.

In the '80s and '90s, they began to realize that not only do these cells and tissues have vitamin D receptors, but so does your colon, prostate, breast, brain, heart, and blood vessels, just to name a few. The obvious question was why? As it turns out, vitamin D receptors found throughout your body serve an important anti-cancer function.

"One of the first pieces of scientific evidence was developed by Dr. Toshio Suda, back in 1979. What he showed was that if you took a leukemic cell that had a vitamin D receptor, and incubated it with the active form of vitamin D, that leukemic cell became normal. It transformed back into a normal cell.

This began to introduce the concept that maybe some of the association studies suggesting exposure to sunlight reduces your risk of cancer may be related to vitamin D.

In fact, one of the early association studies done in 1915 showed that if you were working indoors and living in San Diego, you had an eight times higher risk of developing a deadly cancer and dying of that cancer than if you worked outdoors. A very nice study done in Canada showed that ... women who had the most sun exposure as teenagers and young adults had a 69 percent reduced risk of breast cancer later in life ...

This shows, I think very clearly, that exposure to sunlight or sensible sunlight exposure, throughout your life, helps reduce risk of deadly cancers later in life. What is this association? How is it possible that exposure to sunlight and improving your vitamin D status could reduce your risk of cancer?

[We] worked with Dr. Gary Schwartz, and showed that human prostate cells, obtained at the time of prostate biopsy, had the ability to activate vitamin D.

We then began to realize that there's a new major function of vitamin D that we haven't appreciated before, which is ... if you raise your blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D into healthy range of about 30 ng/ml, this 25-hydroxyvitamin D can get activated in your prostate, colon, breast, and brain, and this active vitamin D has the ability to regulate up to 2,000 genes in your body, either directly or indirectly. That's about one-sixth of the human genome."

These genes have been linked to controlling more than 80 different metabolic processes including enhancing DNA repair, having antioxidant activity, regulating cellular proliferation and differentiation and improving immune function."

Ingenious Mechanism Allows Vitamin D to Prevent Cancer Without Negatively Affecting Calcium Metabolism

Dr. Holick's team found that vitamin D works locally at the cellular level, activating and deactivating about 290 genes, and this was key for explaining how vitamin D helps prevent cancer.

Moreover, they found that once vitamin D is activated in say a colon or brain cell to regulate genes to improve the health of the cell, it, at the same time, induces its own self destruction. This is important, because if the active form of vitamin D were to enter your blood stream, it might adversely affect your calcium metabolism.

"That's clever of Mother Nature," Dr. Holick says, summarizing the process again as follows: "So you make active vitamin D in your kidneys for regulating calcium and bone metabolism.

But now, we've realized that a major new component of the vitamin D story is that you're activating vitamin D locally many cells throughout the body, and they're having all these effects on your genes, and then the cell destroys it so it never gets into the bloodstream and it never has an effect on calcium metabolism ... So, my message is clear. Feed your genes right and improve your vitamin D status."

Neuroprotective Abilities of Vitamin D

Vitamin D also plays a major role in neurotransmission, and vitamin D deficiency has been associated with a number of neurological and brain disorders, including the following:

  • Cognitive dysfunction and Alzheimer's disease (In one study, those who were most vitamin D deficient had a 31 percent increased relative risk of suffering neurocognitive decline)
  • Increased risk for schizophrenia
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Stroke
  • Epilepsy
  • Depression

Beyond Vitamin D

There are many health benefits of sun exposure beyond vitamin D production. For example, sunlight is important for the regulation of your circadian rhythm, and light therapy has been shown to be effective against depression, both seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and non-seasonal major depression.

Exposure to sunlight also makes you feel good. The reason for this is because UV rays stimulate epidermal cells known as keratinocytes to make beta-endorphins.

A study done at Massachusetts General Hospital showed that when healthy adults were exposed to UVA and UVB, they increased beta-endorphin levels in the blood by about 44 percent. The beta-endorphin also likely enters your brain, and since they're an endogenous opioid, they make you feel good.

Sun exposure also has a number of cardiovascular benefits causing vasodilation and reducing risk for peripheral vascular disease and myocardial infarction. The Framingham Heart Study showed that those who were vitamin D deficient had a 50 percent higher risk of having a heart attack, so vitamin D is thought to be very important for cardiovascular health.

Sun exposure also has a number of cardiovascular benefits beyond vitamin D's effects. Nitric oxide that is produced in your skin in response to sunlight may also play a role, as it helps dilate your blood vessels and helps reduce blood pressure.

Nitric oxide also has a number of other health benefits. For example, it can:

  • Induce melanin production
  • Alter immune function
  • Enhance wound healing
  • Have antimicrobial effects

When exposed to sunlight, your hemoglobin molecules also release carbon monoxide, which in tiny amounts can also cause vasodilation and reduce blood pressure. Carbon monoxide can also act as a neurotransmitter, and has beneficial effects on your nervous system. It causes relaxation, and it has anti-inflammatory activity.

"There are other studies that show other health benefits ... They're now beginning to use red and blue lasers to affect fibroblast to produce healthy collagen in your dermis. There have been studies to show that the effect of red, and even infrared light, is effective in reducing wrinkling and fine lines, and to improve your intradermal collagen density.

Blue light has been shown to do the same thing. Studies have also shown that it enhances wound healing. Therefore, there are a variety of biologic effects of light on the skin that are above and beyond vitamin D," Dr. Holick notes.

More Information

If you look at the spectrum of sunlight that reaches the Earth's surface, UVB radiation is responsible for making vitamin D. Meanwhile, UVA radiation helps modulate your immune system, and UVA and UVB in combination improves beta-endorphin production in your skin, which makes you feel good.

Sun exposure on bare skin also produces nitric oxide and carbon monoxide that cause vascular relaxation, improves wound healing, and helps fight infections among other biologic processes. The blue wavelength of sunlight is particularly important for regulating your circadian rhythm and suppressing melatonin levels; it helps improve your mood, and reduces depressive symptoms.

"There is no downside, in my opinion, to improving your vitamin D status and getting some sensible sun exposure," Dr. Holick says. "I don't think you need to be a genius to know that you need sensible sun and vitamin D supplement recommendations. It's not a hypothesis."

In 2004, Dr. Holick wrote his first book for the general public, "The UV Advantage," in which he discusses many of the health benefits of sun exposure covered in this interview. His second book, "The Vitamin D Solution: A 3-Step Strategy to Cure Our Most Common Health Problems," followed in 2010. This book focuses on strategies to help prevent and treat vitamin D deficiency.

"The obvious question is, can you get enough vitamin D from your diet? I hopefully convinced you that you cannot get enough vitamin D from your diet alone ... I get approximately 4,000 units a day from all of my sources. My blood level on average is about 55 to 60 ng/ml ...

The Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guidelines recommends 400 to 1,000 IUs a day for children during their first year of life. For children 1 to 18 years of age, they should get 600 to 1,000 IUs. My preference for teenagers [is the same dose as] adults; at least 1,500 to 2,000 units a day. You cannot get this from dietary sources.

So, what's the best source? Of course, it's sensible sun exposure ... [but] time of day, season of the year, latitude, and degree of skin pigmentation all have influences. So we developed an app, DMinder.info. It will tell you, anywhere on the globe, anytime of the year, and for any skin type, whether you can make vitamin D, and how much vitamin D you're making.

It will also warn you to get out of the sun so that you don't get a sun burn and don't significantly damage your skin."

Remember, the best time to get sun exposure to optimize your vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D) levels is between 10 am and 3 pm from March through October. November through February, you will not be making vitamin D if you live north of Atlanta, Georgia, and even at southern latitudes, you'll only be making 10 to 20 percent of your summertime norm.

During winter months, your alternatives are to use a tanning bed or to take an oral vitamin D3 supplement. If you opt for a supplement, remember that you also need to increase your calcium intake. There is no need to have your blood level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D determined if you are getting adequate sun exposure and vitamin D supplementation as I have recommended.

However, if you are obese, or have a fat malabsorption syndrome or have had gastric bypass surgery, I strongly recommend getting your vitamin D level tested at least once or twice a year, say during the winter and summer, to make sure your chosen strategy is providing you with enough vitamin D.

Ideally, you'll want your level to be between 40 and 60 ng/ml year-round.

 

I SUCCESSFULLY QUIT SMOKING WITHOUT MEDICATION: HERE IS HOW.

"Quitting smoking is easy. I've done it a thousand times."

 

Mark Twain was right when he wrote the words above. A lot of smokers have been trying to quit but a lot have failed miserably, too. Their stories should not be yours.

 

Two years in and I already feel like a brand new person because I have successfully quit smoking.

 

The best part about it is that it was all about discipline.

 

Only 4 to 7 out of 100 are able to do this right without medication, as per the American Cancer Society.

I did seek help from the experts, read researches but I never had to go to a professional for nicotine replacement therapy.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Here is the how I was finally able to do it.

1. Forget about other bodily problems first

If you are currently struggling with excess weight, pimple breakout, and other problems for the body on top of quitting smoking, then, choose one.

 

This causes a chain of problems because you tend to reward yourself with a smoke once you get pass one of these problems.

 

On the reverse side, you tend to eat more when you finish a day without smoking. The secret is to focus on only one and put a timeline to it.

 
 
 

2. Find a Suitable Group Support for You

There are tons of support groups available out there. If you do not have the access to a nearest support group meet, at least find one online.

 

Most of the time, it does not even have to be a formal support group.

Families and friends who are one with your cause may be enough.

Support groups take a huge part in overcoming the mental part of the process. American Cancer Society says that it is easier if you tell others your plans, patience, slips, small successes, cravings, and other experiences throughout the whole process.

 

3. Intentionally Tamper Your Smoking Schedule

Usually, people smoke during work breaks, after every meal, before and after work hours.

I found it easier to quit smoking when I intentionally changed my activities during these times.

These made me “forget” that there is a cigarette available for me to smoke.

I do other things during these periods to get my mind off smoking. I chat with my work friends indoor to avoid lighting another stick.

 

I take my lunch break at the office pantry and take a nap instead of going out for a puff. After eating, I go out and take a walk instead of relaxing.

 
 
 
 
 
 

4. Brush Your Teeth Right After Every Meal

Having a mouth that just went through a luscious meal always begs for a quick smoke.

Before, I felt that smoking helps balance the taste of the meal in my mouth.

Everything changed when I read from University Health Services that it helps to have a mouthwash after a meal because it cleanses the palate.

 
 
 
 

5. Stay Away from Fellow Smokers

I have friends who are fellow smokers so this step is always one of the hardest. I had to sacrifice a few small talks during smoke sessions because I really wanted to get out of the habit.

 

Surrounding yourself with people who even despise smokers will greatly help with the cause.

You will get a lot of tips on how they take their stress away without having to light a stick. Also, use their disgust on smokers as a fuel to quit.

 
 
 
 

6. Encouragement Should Always Come from Within

All the support groups, families, and friends that support you on this are useless if you do not talk to yourself about quitting, too.

 

It helps to have your own words of encouragement when the worst episodes of cravings hit you.

Tell yourself that you can do it because in this time, nobody else would.

Only you know when cravings are the worst so practice saying, “I did it yesterday, I am going to nail it today.”

 

Remember that there will be huge challenges along the way. Celebrations, stress, invitations to smoke, even just the smell of smoke could help you get off your mission.

 

Stay focus. Deciding that you will quit is already a big step. Go further. Eyes on the prize.

Have you tried quitting smoking? Have you been successful in your goal? Don’t forget to share it here.

Statement on the 8th meeting of the IHR Emergency Committee regarding the Ebola outbreak in West Africa

The 8th meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the WHO Director-General under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) regarding the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa took place by teleconference on Tuesday, 15 December 2015, and by electronic correspondence from 15-21 December 2015.

The Committee’s role was to provide the Director-General with views and perspectives as to whether the event continues to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), whether the current Temporary Recommendations should be extended, rescinded or revised, and whether additional recommendations should be considered.

Verbal presentations or written submissions were provided by representatives of Liberia and Sierra Leone on the current epidemiological situation, exit screening, survivor care, surveillance and rapid response capacities.

The Committee noted the progress in interrupting the original chains of Ebola virus transmission, with Guinea having reported its most recent such case on 29 October 2015, Sierra Leone on 8 August 2015 and Liberia on 20 March 2015. The Committee emphasized, however, that between March and November 2015 as many as 10 new outbreaks had occurred as the result of re-introduction of Ebola virus from the convalescent population, based on epidemiologic investigations and genetic sequencing data. The most recent such outbreak had occurred in Liberia, with 3 cases reported between 19 and 20 November 2015.

While recognizing that these new outbreaks have been rapidly controlled, the Committee considers these outbreaks as constituting extraordinary events, which continue to require coordinated international action in support of the affected States. It also reemphasized that while virus persistence is understood to be time-limited, further research is needed on its nature, duration and implications. The Committee highlighted the importance of communicating to the general public that casual contact with survivors does not constitute a health risk.

The Committee remains deeply concerned that 34 countries still enact inappropriate travel and transport measures and highlights the need to immediately terminate any such measures due to their negative impact, particularly on recovery efforts.

The Committee advised that in this critical phase of transition, from stopping the original chains of transmission to managing new outbreaks most likely due to the re-introduction of the virus from survivor populations, often in densely populated areas, the EVD outbreak continues to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). The Committee advised the Director-General to extend the Temporary Recommendations as follows:

States with Ebola transmission

1. The Head of State should continue to address the nation to provide information on the situation, the steps being taken to address the outbreak and the critical role of the community in ensuring its rapid control.

2. There should be no international travel of Ebola contacts or cases, unless the travel is part of an appropriate medical evacuation. To minimize the risk of international spread of EVD:

  • Confirmed cases should immediately be isolated and treated in an Ebola Treatment Centre with no national or international travel until 2 Ebola-specific diagnostic tests conducted at least 48 hours apart are negative;
  • Contacts (which do not include properly protected health workers and laboratory staff who have had no unprotected exposure) should be monitored daily, with restricted national travel and no international travel until 21 days after exposure;
  • Probable and suspect cases should immediately be isolated and their travel should be restricted in accordance with their classification as either a confirmed case or contact.

3. States should conduct exit screening of all persons at international airports, seaports and major land crossings, for unexplained febrile illness consistent with potential Ebola infection. The exit screening should consist of, at a minimum, a questionnaire, a temperature measurement and, if there is a fever, an assessment of the risk that the fever is caused by Ebola virus. States should share exit screening data with WHO on a regular basis. Such exit screening must be maintained for at least 42 days after the last case has twice tested negative for Ebola virus; countries are encouraged to maintain exit screening until EVD transmission has stopped in the entire subregion.

4. The cross-border movement of the human remains of deceased suspect, probable or confirmed EVD cases should be prohibited unless specifically authorized on a case-by-case basis by relevant national authorities of both the exporting and receiving country.

All States

5. There should be no general ban on international travel or trade; there should be no restrictions on the travel of EVD survivors; only those restrictions outlined in these recommendations regarding the travel of EVD cases and contacts should be implemented.

6. Given the continued progress made in interrupting the original chain of transmission, and lack of justification for excessive or inappropriate additional measures, States should terminate any travel and transport measures that go beyond these Temporary Recommendations by end-December 2015.

7. States should provide travellers to areas of active Ebola transmission with relevant information on risks, measures to minimize those risks, and advice for managing a potential exposure.

8. States should be prepared to detect, investigate, and manage Ebola cases; this should include assured access to a qualified diagnostic laboratory for EVD and, where appropriate, the capacity to manage travellers originating from areas of active Ebola transmission who arrive at international airports or major land crossing points with unexplained febrile illness.

9. If active Ebola transmission is confirmed to be occurring in the State, the full recommendations for States with Ebola transmission should be implemented, on either a national or subnational level, depending on the epidemiologic and risk context.

In formulating its views and perspectives, the Committee reflected on the fact that it could advise only on the continuation or the termination of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and that the IHR do not provide for an “intermediate” level of alert. The Emergency Committee was informed that the IHR Review Committee on the Ebola Response is looking closely at this issue and is considering potential recommendations in this regard. The Committee expressed support for such consideration. Looking forward, under the IHR (2005) temporary recommendations can be extended or modified even if the PHEIC status is ended.

Based on this advice and information, the Director-General declared that the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in these West African countries continues to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. The Director-General endorsed the Committee’s advice and issued that advice as Temporary Recommendations under the IHR.

The Director-General thanked the Committee members and advisors for their advice, noted the Committee’s support for the work of the IHR Review Committee, and requested their reassessment of this Ebola situation within 3 months.

The Hidden Dangers of Cell Phone Radiation

The Hidden Dangers of Cell Phone Radiation

Every day, we’re swimming in a sea of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) produced by electrical appliances, power lines, wiring in buildings, and a slew of other technologies that are part of modern life. From the dishwasher and microwave oven in the kitchen and the clock radio next to your bed, to the cellular phone you hold to your ear—sometimes for hours each day—exposure to EMR is growing and becoming a serious health threat.

 

But there’s a huge public health crisis looming from one particular threat: EMR from cellular phones—both the radiation from the handsets and from the tower-based antennas carrying the signals—which studies have linked to development of brain tumors, genetic damage, and other exposure-related conditions.1-9 Yet the government and a well-funded cell phone industry media machine continue to mislead the unwary public about the dangers of a product used by billions of people. Most recently, a Danish epidemiological study announced to great fanfare the inaccurate conclusion that cell phone use is completely safe.10

 

George Carlo, PhD, JD, is an epidemiologist and medical scientist who, from 1993 to 1999, headed the first telecommunications industry-backed studies into the dangers of cell phone use. That program remains the largest in the history of the issue. But he ran afoul of the very industry that hired him when his work revealed preventable health hazards associated with cell phone use.

 

In this article, we look at why cell phones are dangerous; Dr. Carlo’s years-long battle to bring the truth about cell phone dangers to the public; the industry’s campaign to discredit him and other scientists in the field; and what you can do to protect yourself now.

 

Cell Phones Reach the Market without Safety Testing

The cellular phone industry was born in the early 1980s, when communications technology that had been developed for the Department of Defense was put into commerce by companies focusing on profits. This group, with big ideas but limited resources, pressured government regulatory agencies—particularly the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—to allow cell phones to be sold without pre-market testing. The rationale, known as the “low power exclusion,” distinguished cell phones from dangerous microwave ovens based on the amount of power used to push the microwaves. At that time, the only health effect seen from microwaves involved high power strong enough to heat human tissue. The pressure worked, and cell phones were exempted from any type of regulatory oversight, an exemption that continues today. An eager public grabbed up the cell phones, but according to Dr. George Carlo, “Those phones were slowly prompting a host of health problems.”

 

Today there are more than two billion cell phone users being exposed every day to the dangers of electromagnetic radiation (EMR)—dangers government regulators and the cell phone industry refuse to admit exist. Included are: genetic damage, brain dysfunction, brain tumors, and other conditions such as sleep disorders and headaches.1-9 The amount of time spent on the phone is irrelevant, according to Dr. Carlo, as the danger mechanism is triggered within seconds. Researchers say if there is a safe level of exposure to EMR, it’s so low that we can’t detect it.

 

The cell phone industry is fully aware of the dangers. In fact, enough scientific evidence exists that some companies’ service contracts prohibit suing the cell phone manufacturer or service provider, or joining a class action lawsuit. Still, the public is largely ignorant of the dangers, while the media regularly trumpets new studies showing cell phones are completely safe to use. Yet, Dr. Carlo points out, “None of those studies can prove safety, no matter how well they’re conducted or who’s conducting them.” What’s going on here? While the answer in itself is simplistic, how we got to this point is complex.

 

FLAWED DANISH STUDY REPORTS CELL PHONES ARE SAFE

 

In December, 2006, an epidemiological study on cell phone dangers published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute sent the media into a frenzy.10 Newspaper headlines blared: “Danish Study Shows Cell Phone Use is Safe,” while TV newscasters proclaimed, “Go ahead and talk all you want—it’s safe!” The news seemed to be a holiday gift for cell phone users. But unfortunately, it’s a flawed study, funded by the cell phone industry and designed to bring a positive result. The industry’s public relations machine is working in overdrive to assure that the study get top-billing in the media worldwide.

 

According to Dr. George Carlo, the study, by its design, could not identify even a very large risk. Therefore, any claim that it proves there’s no risk from cell phones is a blatant misrepresentation of the data that will give consumers a very dangerous false sense of security.

 

“Epidemiological studies are targets for fixing the outcome because they’re observational in nature instead of experimental,” Dr. Carlo explains. “It’s possible to design studies with pre-determined outcomesthat still fall within the range of acceptable science. Thus, even highly flawed epidemiological studies can be published in peer-reviewed journals because they’re judged against a pragmatic set of standards that assume the highest integrity among the investigators.”

 

Key problems with the study are:

 

There are few discernable differences between who was defined as cell phone users and who wasn’t. Thus, people defined as exposed to radiation were pretty much the same as those defined as not exposed to radiation. With few differences, it’s nearly impossible to find a risk.

 

Users were defined as anyone who made at least one phone call per week for six months between 1982 and 1995. So any person who made 26 calls was a cell phone user and therefore considered exposed to radiation. Those with less than 26 calls were non-users. In reality, the radiation exposure between users and non-users defined in this manner is not discernable.

 

The “exposed” people used ancient cell phone technology bearing little resemblance to cell phones used today. The results, even if reliable, have no relevance to the 2 billion cell phone users today.

 

From 1982 to 1995, cell phone minutes cost much more than today and people used their phones much less. Thus there was very little radiation exposure.

 

During the study’s time frame, people likely to use their cell phones the most were commercial subscribers. Yet this highest exposed group, in whom risk would most easily be identified, was specifically excluded from the study.

 

There were no biological hypotheses tested in the study. It was therefore only a numbers game. Ignored were mechanisms of disease found in other studies of cell phone radiation effects, including genetic damage, blood-brain barrier leakage, and disrupted intercellular communication. The study did not discuss any research supporting the notion that cell phones could cause problems in users.

 

The study itself was inconsistent with cancer statistics published worldwide addressing the Danish population. This study showed a low risk of cancer overall, when in fact Denmark has some of the highest cancer rates in the world. This inconsistency suggested that something in the data does not add up.

 

The cell phone industry constantly guards its financial interests, but unfortunately, an unwitting public can be harmed in the process, says Dr. Carlo. “Industry-funded studies in many cases now produce industry-desired outcomes. By tampering with the integrity of scientists, scientific systems and public information steps over the lines of propriety that are appropriate for protecting business interests—especially when the casualty of the interference is public health and safety.”

 

To learn more about the dangers of cell phones and to read Dr. George Carlo’s full formal analysis of the Danish cell phone study, visit the Safe Wireless Initiative website at www.safewireless.org.

 

Lawsuit Prompts Safety Studies

In 1993, the cell phone industry was pressured by Congress to invest $28 million into studying cell phone safety. The cause of this sudden concern was massive publicity about a lawsuit filed by Florida businessman David Reynard against cell phone manufacturer NEC. Reynard’s wife, Susan, died of a brain tumor, and he blamed cell phones for her death. Reynard revealed the suit to the public on the Larry King Live show, complete with dramatic x-rays showing the tumor close to where Susan held her cell phone to her head for hours each day.

 

The next day, telecommunications stocks took a big hit on Wall Street and the media had a field day. The industry trade association at the time, the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), went into crisis mode, claiming thousands of studies proved cell phones were safe and what Reynard and his attorney said was bunk. TIA reassured the public that the government had approved cell phones, so that meant they were safe. The media demanded to see the studies, but, says Dr. Carlo, “The industry had lied. The only studies in existence then were on microwave ovens. At that time, 15 million people were using cell phones, a product that had never been tested for safety.”

 

Effects of Radiation on the Human Body

(1) Hair

The losing of hair quickly and in clumps occurs with radiation exposure at 200 rems or higher.

(2) Brain

Since brain cells do not reproduce, they won't be damaged directly unless the exposure is 5,000 rems or greater. Like the heart, radiation kills nerve cells and small blood vessels, and can cause seizures and immediate death.

(3) Thyroid

The certain body parts are more specifically affected by exposure to different types of radiation sources. The thyroid gland is susceptible to radioactive iodine. In sufficient amounts, radioactive iodine can destroy all or part of the thyroid. By taking potassium iodide, one can reduce the effects of exposure.

(4) Blood System

When a person is exposed to around 100 rems, the blood's lymphocyte cell count will be reduced, leaving the victim more susceptible to infection. This is often refered to as mild radiation sickness. Early symptoms of radiation sickness mimic those of flu and may go unnoticed unless a blood count is done.According to data from Hiroshima and Nagaski, show that symptoms may persist for up to 10 years and may also have an increased long-term risk for leukemia and lymphoma.

(5) Heart

 

Intense exposure to radioactive material at 1,000 to 5,000 rems would do immediate damage to small blood vessels and probably cause heart failure and death directly.

(6) Gastrointestinal Tract

Radiation damage to the intestinal tract lining will cause nausea, bloody vomiting and diarrhea. This is occurs when the victim's exposure is 200 rems or more. The radiation will begin to destroy the cells in the body that divide rapidly. These including blood, GI tract, reproductive and hair cells, and harms their DNA and RNA of surviving cells.

(7) Reproductive Tract

Because reproductive tract cells divide rapidly, these areas of the body can be damaged at rem levels as low as 200. Long-term, some radiation sickness victims will become sterile.

body.gif (4.99 kb)