Friday, April 30, 2010

Meat as Source of Antibiotic Resistance

In a Congressional hearing on Wednesday, Drs. Freiden and Fauci, from the CDC and NIH, reported that 90,000 Americans die each year due to resistant bacteria. A large amount of debate in the session concerned whether antibiotic use in agriculture contributed to this problem. (Antibiotics are mostly used in agriculture to promote growth in healthy animals, and not to treat infections.) The Doctors said they could not cite particular evidence from the US that linked the use to human sickness. (One of the Republicans asked specifically for US research, implying that research for Europe is not valid.) It is a shame that they did not directly cite the Institute of Medicine Report:
Microbial Threats to Health: Emergence, Detection, and Response
which shows that antibiotic resistant bacteria were found in multiple foods in the supermarket. The report concluded that the resistance does transmit foods ingested by humans. It is virtually impossible to see if a specific person's bacteria is linked to an animal getting an antibiotic. But, it appears that since the ban of antibiotics in Europe, antibiotic resistance has decreased, which is definitely a good thing.
It appears although multiple scientific groups are advocating the ban of antibiotics, Congressional action will be hampered by the lobbyists from Big Farma and Big Pharma. the best thing you can do to act personally is not eat mean/poultry that contains antibiotics. It is safe to assume, that unless mean is labeled in this way, it has antibiotics. So eat antibiotic-free foods, and you may save the life of your child, mother, or other loved one, including yourself.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Insurance companies hold billions in fast food stock

This new study shows that companies supposed to be supporting health are invested in some of the most unhealthy companies. While I doubt the insurance executives were thinking, "Let's invest in fast food so we can get more people sick," it does bring up a potential conflict of interest. Now that insurance companies will not be able to deny people insurance, they may start thinking more about health. Hopefully this will prompt them to invest in companies that promote health for American families.
Study: Insurance companies hold billions in fast food stock -

(p.s. Great to see Cambridge Health Alliance, where I trained, putting out great studies!)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Exodus, Collectivism, and the USA

A Passover plea: Don't tread on E Pluribus Unum - On Faith at
"With Passover on the horizon, Americans can look to the Jewish founding narrative -- the Exodus story -- for perspectives on freedom and nation building. Interestingly, the Exodus from Egypt is framed not in terms of the individual's right to freedom from oppression (though that is certainly implicit) but rather in terms of the freedom to work together to build a society of equity, of justice, and of collective social responsibility."

Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Brain Needs to Travel

I just got back from traveling to Mexico, and then to New York City. I happened to read a few good quotes while traveling.

One was from Chabon's Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. It made me think of travel as a temporary escape:

"The shaping of a golem, to him, was a gesture of hope, offered against hope, in a time of desperation....It was the voicing of a vain wish, when you got down to it, to escape. To slip, like the Escapist, free of the entangling chain of reality and the straitjacket of physical laws....[They] always cited "escapism" among the litany of injurious consequences of their reading, and dwelled on the pernicious effects, on young minds, of satisfying the desire to escape. As if there could be any more noble or necessary service in life."

Then I read an article by Jonah Lehrer, "Definitive Incontrovertible Proof: Why Travel Makes you Smarter" from the San Francisco Panorama. He uses some experimental examples and some thought to show why traveling is so important:

"Such cultural contrasts mean that seasoned travelers are alive to ambiguity, more willing to realize that there are different (and equally valid) ways of interpreting the world."

"...this increased creativity [as a result of traveling] appears to be a side-effects of difference: we need to change cultures, to experience the disorienting diversity of human traditions. The same details that make foreign travel so confusing-- Do I tip the waiter? Where is this train taking me?--turn out to have a lasting impact, making us more creative because we're less insular. We're reminded of what we don't know, which is nearly everything..."

"We travel because we need to, because distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our mind has been changed, and that changes everything."

I'm going to plan my next trip....

(more quotes are on my quotes page- see link at top of blog)