Friday, October 26, 2012

Violence Against Women

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  A friend of mine inspired me to make a post on it.  I just recently finished my Community/Public Health nursing course this month and it was quite timely as indicated above.  

First off, here is a quote that many of you may have heard from Martin Luther King Jr.

This quote especially applies to IPV, or intimate partner violence.  Intimate partner violence is primarily violence against women.  I attended a very good lecture that lasted a couple hours long a couple weeks ago where a physician from the State of Utah brought her team and discussed with us nursing students the topic of IPV.  Did you know...
  • 1 in 3 women report being victims of IPV
  • Females between the ages of 20-34 are at the greatest risk of IPV
  • 4-8% of women are abused during pregnancy
    • 37% more likely to deliver preterm
    • 17% more likely to deliver SGA infants
    • 30% more likely to have neonates requiring ICU care
  • Homicide is a leading cause of death for pregnant and post-partum women
  • Domestic abuse & IPV go together in most cases

So, obviously IPV is a very big problem in our country.  I'm not sure you or I realize what a problem it is in our society, at least I didn't prior to hearing this lecture.  The problem about IPV in the past is that it is something that most people are afraid to talk about, it is a topic swept under the rug and only spoken about in hushed tones behind closed doors.  That is partially why it has become such a big problem.  WE need to bring it out in the open, and discuss it as we would discuss any everyday item.  Only through IDENTIFICATION and ACKNOWLEDGMENT of abuse will we be able to end the cycle.  It is such a tragedy that there is a 33% chance that any woman you randomly run into in this country has been a victim of IPV.
  • 1 in 3 women report being victims of IPV
  • Females between the ages of 20-34 are at the greatest risk of IPV
  • 4-8% of women are abused during pregnancy
    • 37% more likely to deliver preterm
    • 17% more likely to deliver SGA infants
    • 30% more likely to have neonates requiring ICU care
  • Homicide is a leading cause of death for pregnant and post-partum women
  • Domestic abuse & IPV go together in most cases

If you are from Utah like me, you might be thinking to yourself "Well we live in Utah, this is happy valley, that kind of stuff might go on out there, but hardly ever here..."  Well, I am sorry to report to you that is wrong.  There was an emergency room physician at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City that did a study a few years ago.  He interviewed every woman that came into the ER over a period of time and received the following results when his study had concluded:
  • 36% of Utah women presenting to LDS hospital had been a victim of IPV at some point in their lives
  • 13% of Utah high school students were also victims (from their dating partner)
  • 29% of Utah women had experienced a sexual offense
  • Since 2000, domestic violence-related homicide accounted for 40% of all adult homicides
So it's very much a problem here in Utah, actually it is slightly higher here in Utah than it is nationally.  So listen up!  IPV is about power and control, a man will use behaviors to establish and maintain control over his partner.  It can be emotional/psychological, physical, or sexual abuse.  And yes, some men are victims of IPV as well.  A woman does not just leave a violent relationship, she has to ESCAPE from one, for their own safety, and the safety of her children.

In conclusion, I GUARANTEE that you know people that are/have been victims of IPV.  Maybe you are aware of it and maybe you are not.  IPV should not be a 'private matter' and it is not just a law enforcement or criminal justice concern, it is a concern of all of us. 

So if you are a victim of IPV, know that you have resources in the community that can help you get restarted after you escape.  Please do not be afraid of leaving, but do it with intelligence and caution and remember that NOTHING that happens as a result of you leaving is your fault, it is ALL ON THE PERPETRATOR.  ALL!  And if you know of someone that is currently a victim or has been one in the past, you need to be genuine, nonjudgmental, and supportive.  If you suspect a friend or family member is a victim because of something you witness, ask them about it--because if you don't ask, they won't tell.  

To report abuse or share with someone what you are going through, you can call the numbers below.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

1 Month Until Alzheimer's Cure?

We're about to find out within 1 month if 3 new drugs being tested will yield any results in slowing the onset of Alzheimer's.  We will know within a month about 2 of the drugs, and later in the year the results of the third drug will be posted.

These 3 drugs are practically the "last men standing"  in late-stage trials after more than a decade of failed attempts to halt the mind robbing disease.  If these drugs don't work, experts say drug companies may pull out of the field in frustration and leave the 35 million world-wide with dementia with little hope.

Neurofibrillary Tangles                                  Beta-amyloid plaques

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia.  5 million people have it in the U.S., and 27 million have it worldwide.  The cause and progression of the disease are not well understood, but are thought to be related to neurofibrillary tangles and beta-amyloid plaques.  There is rapid degeneration of  the brain that eventually leads to death.  The average life expectancy after you have been diagnosed is 7 years.

Comparison of normal-aged brain (left) with the brain of an Alzheimer's victim (right).

The interesting thing about these drugs is that they are not drugs in the traditional sense, they are antibodies (proteins made by the bodies immune system) designed to clear amyloid plaques in the brain.  Scientists aren't even sure that amyloid even causes Alzheimer's, or that by removing it, symptoms will improve in those who have the disease, but there have been some hopeful signs that they are on the right track.

Everyone in the field is holding their breath in anticipation that something good will come of these results.  Even a small effect will mean huge success, because that will mean the drug is working.

There has not been a drug made that has even helped symptoms in the past 9 years...let's all cross our fingers!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Health Alert: New Sunscreen Guidelines

Sorry for the weird colors, blogger is messed up.

Now trust me, this is something you all need to hear.  If you like your skin, and don't want cancer, then your going to want to pay extra close attention.  The FDA has been after sunscreen companies for a while now.  Why?  Because sunscreen companies have not been honest.  They have not been honest concerning the degree of protection that their sunscreens claim to provide.  

The FDA ordered that changes be made by this month (June 2012), so that we don't all get fried with cancer-causing sun rays this summer.  Well, the sunscreen manufactures came crawling back complaining that they were having a hard time meeting the deadline, so last month in May, the FDA granted them a 6 month extension until this December 2012.  Perfect timing, right as the world ends right?  Some smaller companies have even longer, until December of 2013.  The FDA worried that holding companies to the original deadline would result in sunscreen shortages this summer.

What is it that the FDA wants to be made clear about sunscreens?  Here you go:

The sun emits rays in 2 different wavelengths.  A and B.  There is a big difference between these two.

  • UV-A rays:  Causes premature aging&wrinkling. Contributes to and initiates skin cancer
  • UV-B rays:  Plays key role in skin cancer

Don't believe that the sun causes premature aging?  Here's the picture of the trucker who always had the sun on the left side of his face (without any sunscreen).  The wrinkles were caused by UVA rays.

What else?

  • Sunscreen companies can no longer claim their lotions to be waterproof or sweatproof, only water and sweat resistant.  This is so people know that sunscreens have to be reapplied frequently when you are sweating or swimming (the protection washes off quickly). 

What is the FDA is not asking these companies to do is to reformulate their sunscreens.  What they are asking them to do is to change their labeling about the real protection their sunscreens really offer.  The delay is due to the time it takes them to revise package labeling, especially on smaller packages that now will have to fit extra information about just what protection is offered.

What will the NEW regulations mean for us?

You want protection against both UVA and UVB rays.  Once the new rules are in place, any sunscreen labeled "broad spectrum" will offer both, but until then, there's no guarantee behind that wording.

Once the new rules are in place, sunscreens with less than an SPF of 15 or that aren't "broad spectrum" will have to carry a warning label: "This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging."

If it still says "waterproof," it was bottled under the old rules. Once the new rules are in place, the sunscreens will have to say how long they're water-resistant.

So, what sunscreen should you get?

Sun bathers and outdoor enthusiasts should beware of harmful ingredients found in many sunscreens. According to recent CNN article, only "25 percent of 800 tested sunscreens" are safe.  That means that 600 out of 800 sunscreens tested were NOT safe.

 To make that safe list, sunscreens had to be “free of oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate (a type of vitamin A), not have SPF above 50 and protect against UVA and UVB sunrays.

According to Experts, you need to get:

  • An SPF of 25-30, but nothing below 25.  Always use less than SPF 50.
  • Sunscreens that contain either zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or both. Those are the two safest ingredients,  they are physical barriers, not just chemical barriers, and they block both UVA and UVB rays.  Don't get any other active chemical ingredients.
  • Getting a true SPF coverage means making sure skin is getting completely covered, which often takes 2 coats of sunscreen.  (It can be very easy to miss a spot, and that's all you need for cancer to start.)
  • Avoid oxybenzone or retinyl palmitate (a type of vitamin A)
  • Avoid direct sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. That's because the most significant amount of UVB hits the U.S. between these times.
If you weren't paying attention, here's a little something to scare you into wearing sunscreen:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Sex of Your Baby

Few things in my life have been more exciting than finding out the sex of my baby.  Am I going to get a little guy to show all the ropes of manhood too?  Or am I going to get daddy's little girl?  Most people think that they will just play whatever cards they are dealt when it comes to the sex of their baby.  But do we actually have a say in the matter...???  Read On...

There are books out there that tell you all sorts of things you can do to help sway the odds in one direction or another, but when it comes down to it, the most important factor in determining the sex of your baby is TIMING

What is it that determines the sex?  It's the man.  The woman always gives one X chromosome, maybe hoping that she will get a little mini-me, but the man has the final say in the sex and can give either his X or his Y.   There are two kinds of sperm, sperm that call for a male, and sperm that call for a female.

So what can you and your spouse do to put in your two cents with the guy upstairs?  

First, you need to understand this concept:  male sperm swim faster than female sperm.  

Secondly, the woman needs to know what day of her cycle she ovulates.  If you don't know this, don't worry, your not alone.  You can buy tests that you pee on that can confirm whether or not your ovulating, but here is another fairly accurate way to tell:

  • Take your temperature BEFORE YOU GET OUT OF BED.  If your temp goes up (even 1/3 a degree Fahrenheit) and STAYS up, over the next two or three days, you are ovulating.

So, once you know the day you ovulate, you can make it work in your favor.

IF YOU WANT A BOY:  Have intercourse about 2 days AFTER ovulation.  That way, the egg is just waiting for the first sperm, and since the male sperm swim faster, they will be first to arrive and fertilize. 

IF YOU WANT A GIRL: Have intercourse about 2 days BEFORE ovulation. That way, the male sperm have already come and mostly died off, and by the time the egg presents itself, the female sperm are just arriving to fertilize.  

ANOTHER TIP:  Some people think that having intercourse everyday increases their chance of getting pregnant.  It can take up to 11 days for sperm to fully mature and be ready to fertilize an egg, so by having sex everyday, you can be releasing lots of immature sperm that will not fertilize the egg.  A better method might be to wait until your fully potent with lots of mature sperm, and then follow the guidelines up above in trying to determine the sex of your baby.  If you don't care what sex you get, then disregard everything and let chance do its thing.  As you know, almost nothing in pregnancy, labor, and childbirth is exact.  However, this method did work for me and my wife, and look what we got:



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I bet you didn't know this about childbirth...

Did you know:

  • There are 6 million pregnancies every year in the U.S.

  • 50% of the 6 million miscarriage.  Some don't even know they are pregnant.
  • 3% of women have twins.
  • 13% of women in the U.S. have postpartum depression.
  • Postpartum depression is primarily due to hormone changes.
  • The "blues" usually only last 2 weeks after giving birth.  If it goes longer, it is known as post postpartum psychosis.
  • Fewer than 10% of babies are born on their due date.
  • 50% of babies are born within one week of their due date.
  • 14 million adolescents become pregnant each year throughout the world
  • Each day 1,600 women die giving birth
  • 99% of those deaths occur in developing nations.
  • The closer you live to the equator, the more likely you are to have a girl
  • A healthy male ejaculates 7,200 times throughout his life (7.5 gallons)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ingredients of Vaccines

Question:  What about all those other ingredients that I hear about that they put in vaccines?

The concerns about specific vaccine ingredients are common because some vaccine opponents are trying to scare people. Anything in excess is toxic, extremely tiny amounts of relatively toxic things are not harmful.

Mercury - see above (thimerosol)

Aluminum - Alum is not the same as aluminum, it is a salt that is added as an adjuvant. Vaccines contain antigens (either whole viruses or bacteria or parts of them) that we create a memory response against, as well as adjuvants, which are like a 'danger signal' for our immune system that pushes the immune response in specific directions.

Formaldehyde is used to kill viruses to prepare vaccines.  It is mostly removed, but trace amounts remain in some vaccines. These tiny amounts are not harmful, even to newborn infants. In fact, we all have formaldehyde in our bodies because we need it to make DNA and amino acids.

Antibiotics are also added to some vaccines in tiny amounts to prevent bacteria from contaminating the vaccines after they are made.

Human serum albumin is added as a stabilizer.  It is derived from human blood. The only reason I can think of to oppose it is the chance that it might be contaminated with a blood-borne pathogen, or if you are religiously opposed to blood transfusions.  All blood is screened carefully before it is used to reduce the risk of blood-borne infections.

Gelatin is also a stabilizer.  Some people might be allergic to gelatin or to egg proteins (some vaccines come from viruses grown in eggs).  People with these allergies shouldn't get vaccines made from eggs or that have gelatin added.

Some vaccines are made using yeast cells.  Small amounts of yeast proteins may end up in vaccines.  We are loaded with yeast in and on our bodies.  I'm not sure what the problem could be here.

Question:  What if I just don’t feel right about vaccinating my children?

Answer:  We are of course free to make choices that are contrary to the weight of accumulated evidence and rational thinking. Such decisions may however harm others, not just our own families. Look into how babies are dying in California because unvaccinated people spread pertussis to them (whooping cough).  These very small infants can't get this vaccine and they depend on those around them to be immunized to protect them.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Can Vaccines Overwhelm The Immune System?

Question:  I still feel that I am overwhelming my child’s immune system by exposing it to too many antigens.

Answer:  Some people believe that this could lead to various problems related to interactions between the vaccines, or maybe putting the immune system in a state of shock. Therefore, they follow a delayed or selective vaccination schedule. The reality is that our bodies are continuously exposed to microbes. If you count all the human cells in your body, and then all the bacterial cells, the bacteria outnumber us 10 to 1.  Every time you brush your teeth, you are introducing hundreds of thousands of
antigens into your bloodstream.  Even an infant is able to respond to the equivalent of about 10,000 vaccines at once
.  Neonates develop the capacity to respond to foreign antigens before they are born. B and T cells are present by 14 weeks’ gestation and express an enormous array of antigen-specific receptors.

Question:  Why are there some PhDs out there that are against vaccinations?  Isn’t their argument legitimate?

Answer:  People should be very careful about making sure they get an accurate picture of what the data is regarding the benefits and risks of vaccines. Any yahoo can promote reading "both sides of the issue" as though scientists are evenly split about these issues. They are not.  After all, there are people with PhDs in mathematics and astronomy that are arguing that the earth is actually the center of the universe (  You can always find contrary opinions. Science is about developing new hypotheses, and those that are supported by the data will be accepted over time.

Question:  Do you vaccinate your children?  Why or why not? 

Answer:  Yes, I vaccinate my children and I get vaccinated myself.  I study bacterial diseases for a living.  I know what the risks are, and the benefits, to my family and society. Bad things do happen occasionally after vaccines, ranging from soreness to allergic reactions, encephalitis and death.  These things are extremely rare and it is nearly impossible to predict who will have these reactions.  It is very sad.  But the risks are far greater when we don't vaccinate. In my opinion, the anti-vaccine movement is one of the more damning evidences of the historical and scientific ignorance (and arguably ingratitude) of modern society. Jonas Salk was a national hero in 1955 when his vaccine against polio was proven effective against a disease that Americans feared more than anything else except an atomic bomb. Now vaccine researchers and producers are viewed with hostility and subjected to attacks on their credibility, and some even receive death threats.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Vaccines Continued

The following will be a series of common questions asked in regard to vaccines with answers given by the above mentioned Doctors:

Question:  Aren’t the diseases that vaccines protect against rare in the United States?

Answer:  Yes, it is true that many of these diseases are rare in the U.S. but that is only because we are vaccinated.  Most of these diseases are deadly.

Question:  Isn’t it a better idea to wait until your child is older to vaccinate?

Answer:   It is true that often side affects decrease with the children's age but then they are unprotected for longer.  It is a risk.  I know someone who's child got whooping cough at a family party just 2 years ago.

Question:  I have heard that the chicken pox vaccine is dangerous?

Answers:  Since chicken pox isn't usually life threatening I didn't get my 1st child immunized until I met a mother whose child is blind from chicken pox.  I then researched the rates of permanent issues from chicken pox and the rates of issues from the vaccine and once again, the vaccine was the clear choice.  Now all of my children are vaccinated against chicken pox.

Question:  Don’t vaccines contain mercury?  And isn’t mercury poisonous?

Answer:  Another concern that got a lot of press is the common preservative thimerosol, a compound that is 49.6% ethylmercury by weight. It is added to vaccines to prevent bacterial contamination. A fringe medical journal printed a paper proposing (without a shred of evidence) that autism could be a form of mercury poisoning due to thimerosol. Of course ethylmercury is not the same as methylmercury, which is known to accumulate through the food chain and can cause toxicity including neurological effects in people who eat large amounts of fish, for instance. Although ethylmercury is eliminated from the body much faster than methylmercury and does not cause
toxicity, it was removed from all children’s vaccines by 2001 as a precautionary measure. Since then, the thimerosol-autism connection has been thoroughly debunked, but public fears are unfortunately very evidence-resistant.

Question:  I’m worried that by vaccinating my child, I will overwhelm their immune system.

Answer:  Some feel that vaccines “overload” the immune system and lead to chronic diseases. Others have the perception that since many of the vaccine-preventable diseases have largely been controlled (thanks to vaccination!), there is a very low risk of their child actually becoming infected. Since adverse reactions are temporally associated with vaccination in an extremely small percentage of those that are vaccinated, then it doesn’t make sense to them to vaccinate their children. However, no study (that I’m aware of) has ever shown a causal relationship of serious adverse event in healthy children with vaccinations currently in use. Vaccination programs have been successful precisely because of the sort of “social contract” involved – individuals are willing to incur the extremely small risk of an adverse event in order to keep infectious diseases out of their communities. As more and more people choose to take a free ride on the immunity of others, the incidence of these diseases will inevitably rise.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Vaccines...What's All The Fuss About!!!???

Being in the medical profession, I see and hear about way too many heart breaking cases of diseases that were vaccine preventable.  About a year ago, I conducted an extensive interview with a couple of PhD's in microbiology about the use of vaccines.  I have their contact information and credentials if you want them.  I wrote a long paper based on the interviews,  I will highlight the important parts for you.  I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend you read this.  If you have any further questions, send them my way.  This will be a series of posts.

It began as the scientific paper that served as a central pillar for the idea that vaccination could increase children's risk of developing autism.  Now, with a formal retraction from the Lancet, the medical journal which in 1998 published this piece of research by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, most researchers will view the study as if it had never been published in the first place.
Ten of the 13 authors of the original paper, all of whom were researchers at the Royal Free Hospital and School of Medicine in London, partially retracted the paper in 2004. However, the first author, Andrew Wakefield, didn't. Dr. Wakefield, has not been returning phone calls to comment.
Wakefield's hypothesis was that by combining vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella into a single shot, known as MMR, the vaccine weakened the immune system and damaged the gut. He said that this, in turn, led to the development of autism.
The General Medical Council concluded that Wakefield participated in "dishonesty and misleading conduct" while he conducted the research. Specifically, it found Wakefield responsible for an ethics breach because he wrote that the children involved in the case report were referred to his clinic for stomach problems, when he knew nearly half of the children were actually part of a lawsuit looking into the effects of an MMR vaccine. Some children didn't have stomach issues at all.
Wakefield also failed to disclose he was paid in conjunction with the lawsuit, or that he had a patent related to a new MMR vaccine in development when he submitted the case report for publication.
Moreover, according to one of the findings against the doctor, Wakefield took blood samples from children at his own child's birthday party and paid them each five British pounds for their trouble.

In a statement explaining its retraction of Wakefield's paper, the Lancet said: "Following the judgment of the U.K. General Medical Council's Fitness to Practice Panel on Jan. 28, 2010, it has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield and others are incorrect ... in particular, the claims in the original paper that children were 'consecutively referred' and that investigations were 'approved' by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false. Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record."

            Having mentioned this, I feel it is of importance to note that unfortunately, the stigmatism that people have towards vaccines, and the idea that vaccines cause autism is already out there and the damage has already been done.  Years of research have clearly disproven a vaccine-autism link, yet many people continue to believe in it. If all of that research hasn't changed their minds, the Lancet's retraction is not likely to make much difference.

            Because of that, I have dug deep to seriously address the many concerns that people have regarding vaccines.  Even after all this, people will still believe what they want to believe, but the facts are there, and everyone has the freedom to choose what they want to do with the facts.  I believe in making our own decisions, but I also believe that it is our duty to do as much as possible on our part to gain information.  So it is for that reason that I have taken the time to go out and get as much information as I can about vaccines from those who are most qualified to give it, and share it with as many people as possible.