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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mining existing, public data sets to further national healthcare agenda

Director's Blog

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  • Holding our breath for this diabetes risk

    [ Posted by Isaac ("Zak") Kohane on 2010-10-04 at 20:50 ]

    A recent study exemplifies the leverage that can be obtained from mining existing, public data sets to further our national healthcare agenda. As described by the NY Times, our colleague John Brownstein obtained data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and found a consistent relationship between the amount of air pollution (particulate matter in the air) and population risk for diabetes (after correcting for the usual suspects such as income and ethnicity). This and other large-scale populations studies such as the one we recently reported by Atul Butte suggest that we might be insufficiently including the larger environment in our study of the diabetic plague that has afflicted us.

    It also suggests that we have insufficiently taken advantage of freely available public data to pursue relevant and timely medical research.

What would JESUS Do? Blessing Nonhumans Ceremoniously and Dutifully

Blessing of the Animals (or our 'Pets')

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals, is celebrated on October 4th. The "Blessing of the Animals" is the highlight of the celebration, although it is probably more accurate to call it the "Blessing of the Pets",... Read more

The Blessing of the Animals (or Pets)

  • October 16th, 2010 11:38 am ET

The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals, is celebrated on October 4th. The "Blessing of the Animals" is the highlight of the celebration, although it is probably more accurate to call it the "Blessing of the Pets", for farm animals are mostly absent (at least the ones most in need of divine intervention).

Commemorating St. Francis is the ideal time for Christians to reflect on their relationship with animals, a relationship that is the subject of a recent Washington Post article. The author, Laura Hobgood-Oster, writes:

"It is humbling, but Christians need to de-center themselves to be relevant in the twenty-first century. So how do we do this? We must take off the blinders that allow violence to happen to other animals and confront these issues directly with active compassion. I believe that there is no way a person who proclaims, "I am Christian," can be ok with the violence of factory farms. There is no way that a person who declares a "love for Jesus" can then turn their back on animal control facilities killing five million dogs each year because nobody will home them. Is not Christianity a religion of mercy and hospitality - of opening homes to strangers?"

In the end, Christians would be wise to ask a simple question:
What would Jesus do?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hiatus from Facebook and the Internet -

I'd say, visit Facebook ONLY ONCE each week: plow through, do no chats, accept no "gifts" and sign up for no events. However, it can be a great organizing tool IF folks are 'in the space' for social media, but few of us really have time to 'be in that space' (having thought about it).

I've met some of the techies who develop this stuff: not bad guys or gals, but often 'self-absorbed' in terms of cyberspace and their own interests and how much money they 'bring home' from doing the development, and very little sense of social responsibility that isn't in terms of using the Internet between persons and 'social action' (as an intermediary).

Of course, we're using such an intermediary to say this.

It reminds me of the head of Buildings and Grounds at Tufts University, where I used to work in the days when we were setting up the materials management program that included recycling. "My men are all on union contracts. I cannot ask them to lift, move, or relocate anything by hand; they cannot be expected to lift, move, empty, or relocate anything that doesn't put a machine in between them and the task. Now, if you want that to be done, you're asking for subcontracted custodians, and my men are not custodians."

To which I replied: "Might you consider a pair of safety gloves a machine?"

"No" was his answer.

Then I think also of a vegetarian friend, a vegan friend with two doctorates (philosophy and psychology) who for years planned to write a book on how modern life alienates us from experiencing directly, built upon Plato's analogy of the cave (the inner resident saw against the wall he was facing the shadows from the flickering flame behind him).

Well, such is complex existence, and some strive for a tenured position in a field where that depth of analysis can be pursued, or a clinical role that might also indulge it (like a chaplaincy in a school or mental hospital).

If you find it, just stay sane and don't commit intellectual suicide.

For me: Animals as Persons by Gary Francione

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Preventing Breast Cancer - say NO to the Pink cupcakes

All Islands Health Talk Preventing Breast Cancer - say NO to the Pink cupcakes

Preventing Breast Cancer - say NO to the Pink cupcakes


Want to help PREVENT you, your sister, mother, wife, daughter from getting breast cancer. ( and other cancers....)

What is cancer: Any of various malignant neoplasms characterized by the proliferation of anplastic cells that tend to invade surrounding tissue and metastasize to new body sites.

What causes cancer: Cancer is not something one "catches", rather, it is directly caused by a malfunction in the cellular DNA.

Can you cure cancer? Because Cancer is actually one's own cells misbehaving, there truly can never be any "cure" for the condition - only PREVENTION and REGENERATION! Cancer does not kill, as all cancer really is your very own cells that have somehow started to mutate. The body eventually starves to death from the lack of vital nutrients to other healthy cells.

How our bodies fight cancer: By resetting metabolism and helping the body repair and regenerate "damaged" DNA, cancer cells often return to their normal state of existence and proper functioning. A healthy body is designed to successfully fight cancer, and can do so as long as it isn't overwhelmed by conditions that make it not possible to function at optimum.

Need to know: Environmental toxins accumulate in reproductive organs and are stored in fatty tissues such as breasts. Breast health is affected by stagnant lymph (lymph drainage is dependent on muscle movement more then blood flow circulation, and is affected by not exercising). Poor elimination, emotional stress, hormonal imbalance and degenerating organ function such as kidney, heart or lungs from obesity, smoking or alcohol use can further compromise the immune system function.

STOP PINK WASHING and get educated!! Don't eat the pink cupcakes! It is not ethical to be selling "pink cupcakes for the cure" that are made with High Fructose Corn Syrup, partially hydrognated oils, artificial colors, powdered milk products, preservatives, wheat, GMO products such as soy or corn or beet sugar, and other processed food substances that damage normal physiology and metabolism, and label the packaging to announce that the sale of such products will go towards finding the cure to cancer.

Here's how we'd work to find a "cure" for breast cancer... Skip the pink cupcake this October, grab your girlfriend, mother, daughter, neighbor and address some of the KNOWN root causes....

STOP allowing hormones in the food chain
including the inclusion of artificial hormones, artificial, colors and chemicals that are synthetic hormone markers, toxic preservatives (Nitrites and pesticides, growth hormones, GMO corn and soy in animal feed lots, and full spectrum anti-biotics in our food chain, (now approved by the FDA)
The prevalent use of these in USA ag, dairy, meat production and processed food may be the reason that breast cancer in North America is the highest in the world.

STOP NOW ALL allowed sources of exposure to ionizing environmental radiation, (including new airport security full body xray machines,, avoid annual mammograms), ......Radioactive materials that decay spontaneously produce ionizing radiation, which has sufficient energy to strip away electrons from atoms (creating two charged ions) or to break some chemical bonds. Any living tissue in the human body can be damaged by ionizing radiation in a unique manner. The body attempts to repair the damage, but sometimes the damage is of a nature that cannot be repaired or it is too severe or widespread to be repaired. Also mistakes made in the natural repair process can lead to cancerous cells. The most common forms of ionizing radiation are alpha and beta particles, or gamma and X-rays. Radiation can cause changes in DNA, the "blueprints" that ensure cell repair and replacement produces a perfect copy of the original cell. Changes in DNA are called mutations.
STOP NOW the creation and exposure to, nuclear waste and the products of war such as uranium enriched weapons.
STOP using antioxidants and vitamins that are petroleum based.
STOP restaurants from cooking with partially hydrogenated oils, (Harvard School of Public Health researchers estimate that trans fat had been causing about 50,000 premature heart attack deaths annually, making partially hydrogenated oil one of the most harmful ingredients in the food supply , Denmark has banned the use of trans fats in public restaurants.)
STOP ignoring the ingredient label. Avoid nutritional ignorance: Be aware that some processed foods are messing with metabolism such as high fructose corn syrup. Cancer rates rise with obesity.
STOP selling cigarettes with known cancer causing chemicals.
STOP NOW supporting pharmaceutical companies but not organic farmers as part of medical plans, health insurance and factory approach to health care. Support prevention through life style and nutrition as part of your health insurance plan.
STOP eating and selling deep fried food.
STOP drinking excessive alcohol. Learn about the direct link between breast cancer, obesity, drinking and estrogen in fatty tissues.
STOP using deodorant with aluminum salts (anti-perspirants) Don't apply a cancer causing product directly on lymph nodes on breast tissue, use alternative deodarant products or baking soda instead.
STOP using cooking pots with aluminum, or peeling teflon or non stick coats
STOP using lipstick with lead, mascara and lighbulbs containing mercury. Heavy metals including cadmium, nickel and aluminum, directly or indirectly activate the estrogen receptor in the human breast cancer cell line MCF-7
STOP habitual consumption of diet soda and products with artificial sweeteners.The first artificial sweeteners used in diet soda were cyclamates. In 1970 the FDA banned cyclamates in the USA on evidence that they caused cancer in lab rats. Cyclamates are still used in many countries around the world, including for diet soda.
STOP drinking cow milk and dairy products made in America with rBGH (Bovine growth hormone)
STOP building residential dwellings on top of contaminated "brown" land (Love Canal etc)
STOP using aquifers for public drinking supply that are known contaminated with heavy metals, pesticides, fungicides.

If you suffer from candida, are prone to yeast infections, fungus or tumors, change your lifestyle and diet now.

See More on Hawaii Health Guide related links!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thanksgiving Day in Canada: think thankfully of the aspects of the world which make our lives (a) possible AND (b) of good quality

Today is Thanksgiving Day in Canada, a time when we may all think thankfully of the aspects of the world which make our lives (a) possible AND (b) of good quality.

Many folks make lists of "many things to be thankful for" then continue idiosyncratic reflections.

I would urge us to think thankfully of the aspects of the world which make our lives (a) possible AND (b) of good quality.

In America, fewer than 5 per cent eat - and carefully CHEW - enough cooked WHOLE grains

Few Americans consume enough whole grains, study finds

Less than 5% of people ages 19 to 50 consumed three whole-grain servings in a day, most of them eating only two-thirds of a serving, according to an analysis of a 1999-2004 survey. The lead researcher emphasized the importance of consuming whole grain for its nutritional value, and noted that it is likely that the rates have changed little since the survey was conducted. Reuters

<1 in 20 Americans eat enough whole grains

NEW YORK | Fri Oct 8, 2010 4:20pm EDT

(Reuters Health) - Human persons who eat plenty of whole grains have higher quality diets overall, new research shows; the problem is that, in the U.S. at least, these persons seem to be 'few and far between'.

Without LOCAL in-person health-supporting networks that focus on such issues, Americans seem incapable of sorting evidence-based health messages coming through news media and trusted TV and radio advocates, like Dr. Oz.

Less than 5 percent of the 19- to 50-year-old Americans surveyed in 1999-2004 said they ate at least three servings of whole grain daily, according to the report in the October issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

During this period, there were no specific guidelines on how much whole grain people should be eating, study author Dr. Carol E. O'Neil of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge noted; people were simply told to consume "several servings." But in 2005, new Dietary Guidelines for Americans specified three servings of whole grains daily as the optimal amount.

There is ample evidence that consuming whole grains-meaning the outer portion of the kernel has not been removed-is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and even certain types of cancer, although the mechanism behind their beneficial effects is not clear, O'Neil and her team note in their report.

O'Neil and her colleagues looked at the survey data to assess the relationship between whole grain intake and diet quality. Their analysis included 7,039 men and women between 19 and 50 years old and another 6,237 people 51 and older.

The younger group ate less than two-thirds of a serving of whole grains daily, on average, while the older people ate just over three-quarters of a serving, the researchers found. But the fraction of people who ate the most whole grain also consumed more fiber, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals, while eating less sugar, unhealthy fat, and cholesterol.

Because the study looked at only one point in time, it cannot assess the health effects of the subjects' eating habits. "We can only say that consumption of whole grain is associated with improved nutrient intake or diet quality," O'Neil said. "We know from previous studies that consumption of whole grains is associated with a generally healthier lifestyle."

Even though Americans now have specific advice on how much whole grain they should be eating, it's unlikely that the percentage of people eating enough whole grain has changed much since the survey was done, according to O'Neil. "People just don't eat whole grains, although an increasing number of whole grain foods are available."

Also, many people don't know what exactly whole grains are, what types of foods contain them, and why they're good for you, O'Neil said. For more information, she recommends checking out the MyPyramid Web site ( and the Whole Grains Council (here).

"I also think that people are a little afraid of whole grains-that they won't like them or that their children won't like them," she added. "To these people, I would recommend that they find out more about them and try them-after all, popcorn is a whole grain, many cereals are whole grains, and a wide variety of whole grain breads and pastas are available."

Journal of the American Dietetic Association, October 2010.