Category Archives: Health

Cancer: Another reason to loathe the TPP


The Trans-Pacific Partnership, the multinational Pacific Rim trading pact, negotiated in secret under the sway of corporate lobbyists and signed today in New Zealand, must be approved by Congress in order to take effect.

Hillary Clinton loves it, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren  don’t.

There are many reasons to loathe the TPP, including its secret tribunal capable of fining nations huge sums for enacting environmental, public health, and other barriers to protect citizens from unalloyed corporate rapacity.

Now comes another good reason, cancer.

From RT’s The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann:

What Today’s TPP Signing Means

Program notes:

Melinda St. Louis, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch & Zahara Heckscher, Writer/Educator/Social Justice Advocate join Thom. Representatives from 12 countries are gathering in the world’s most remote capital to finally sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership. What effect will this have on the effort to block the deal here in the US?

Atlas Shrugged, the Peewee Vermin edition


From Reuters:

Shkreli laughs off questions from lawmakers, calls them ‘imbeciles’

Former drug executive Martin Shkreli laughed off questions about drug prices and tweeted that lawmakers were imbeciles on Thursday, when he appeared at a U.S. congressional hearing against his will.

And from the Guardian:

Drug company boss Martin Shkreli refuses to testify to Congress

  • Shkreli invokes fifth amendment right not to answer questions about HIV drug
  • So-called ‘most hated man in America’ hiked price of Daraprim 5,000%

And the Washington Post:

‘Pharma bro’ Shkreli stays silent before Congress, calls lawmakers ‘imbeciles’ in tweet

Shkreli, the former chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, who gained notoriety for jacking up a little-known drug’s price, was excused from a House hearing on drug prices after he refused to answer any questions — other than how to pronounce his name correctly, or to confirm that, yes, he was listening.

And a screencap of the London Daily Mail homepage teaser for this story:

BLOG Shrek

And the Los Angeles Times:

Smirking pharma CEO Martin Shkreli leaves lawmakers infuriated after hourlong showing

Shkreli appeared to smirk throughout his hourlong appearance, and moments after it ended, insulting tweets began to appear under his official Twitter account calling the lawmakers “imbeciles.”

“Appeared to smirk”?

We’ll let you, dear reader, be the judge. For your assistance, via vlogger TacoBurritoLegend:

Martin Shkreli Pharma Bro Smirking Compilation

Program note:

Martin Shkreli smirked this much during his 10 minute hearing with Congress. Will he be held in contempt?

Child abuse history common in Canada’s military


A fascinating new study from the University of Manitoba reveals that nearly half of Canada’s soldiers have been exposed to child abuse, as significantly higher percentage than for the general population.

Given that Canada’s military, like that of the U.S., is composed of volunteers rather than conscripts, and membership is self-selected, we cannot but wonder what the comparable numbers might be for America’s soldiers.

One risk clearly established by the research was an elevated suicide rate, but we can’t help but wonder about possible ramifications in the conduct of soldiers in the field.

From the University of Manitoba newsroom:

Almost half of all military personnel in Canada have a history of child abuse exposure, UM study finds

According to a study publi$hed in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, military personnel in Canada are more likely to have had exposure to child abuse than individuals in the general Canadian population. Furthermore, the study found that such exposure to child abuse was associated with an increased risk of suicidal behaviour. The risk had a stronger effect on the general population than military personnel, and the effect of exposure to child abuse was stronger than the effect of actual deployment-related trauma.

Tracie O. Afifi is associate professor in the departments of community health sciences and psychiatry at the University of Manitoba. She and her coauthors examined the association between child abuse exposure and suicidal behaviour (ideation, planning and attempts) among representative groups of military personnel and the general population in Canada. The authors analyzed data from 24,142 respondents (ages 18 to 60) in two nationally representative data sets. The study found that child abuse exposure was higher in the regular forces (47.7 percent) and reserve forces (49.4 percent) compared with the Canadian general population (33.1 percent).

Child abuse exposures were associated with increased odds of suicidal ideation, suicidal plans and suicide attempts in the general population and in the Canadian Armed Forces, although the study found that many of the associations were weaker in military personnel compared with civilians.

Afifi notes: “Suicide is an important public health problem among both military and civilian populations. The ability to accurately anticipate who will think about, plan, and attempt suicide is a difficult task.”

Deployment-related trauma was associated with past-year suicidal ideation and plans but by comparison, child abuse exposure was more strongly and consistently associated with suicide-related behaviors.

Afifi says she does not know why the research found that almost half of all military personnel in Canada have a history of child abuse exposure.

“But escaping from child abuse exposure at home or otherwise improving life circumstances with career and education opportunities available through the military may be the cause,” she suggests.

There’s more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Fracking waste impacts poor and minorities


From Environmental Health News:

Poor and minority neighborhoods bear a disproportionate share of fracking wastewater wells in South Texas’ Eagle Ford play, according to a new study.

The findings add to growing evidence that politically marginalized black, Hispanic and poor communities carry more than their share of the nation’s energy waste burden. Fracking wastewater contains potentially harmful chemicals and metals, and has been linked to surface and groundwater contamination and earthquake spikes.

“It’s another example of the environmental racism throughout the country,” said lead author Jill Johnston, an assistant professor at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.

Industry representatives, however, called the study flawed, and said it provided no evidence that wastewater disposal is actually harming people in these communities.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a process that uses horizontal drilling and high volume fluid injections to release oil and gas. Along with water, the injections contain sand and a mix of chemicals—some of which have been linked to cancer, hormone impacts, and reproductive problems.

We have a perfect solution. If all the pollution problems that industry says are safe, then let’s make it mandatory that those same one percenters take up residence in areas that are the most impacted by the wastes generated by the companies they run.

We suspect that if such legislation were passed, those same companies would do a lot more to clean up their own messes.

Charts of the day: Cancer deaths in Europe


From Eurostat [PDF], first the mortality rates by nation [and click on the images to enlarge]:

BLOG EU Cancer rates

And cancer death rates by sex:

BLOG EU Cancer types

Headline of the day II: And one that’s unique?


And it’s from Science, that most austere of journals:

Ancient arachnid erection enshrined in amber

Nearly 99 million years ago, two harvestmen—known to some as daddy longlegs—decided to have sex. Little did they know that their final act would still be preserved today, enshrined in amber in striking detail.

And along the same line, a Guardian video, one of a series on Britain’s National Health Service, featuring a physician with a tale from the emergency room:

A&E confessions: a 90-year-old’s secret to a happy marriage

Program notes:

When a sweet, rosy-cheeked 90-year-old woman walked into her accident and emergency ward, the last thing Dr Sarah Johnston expected was some searingly honest and intimate advice on the secret to a lifelong happy marriage.

Headlines of the day: Zika crisis news updates


First, a crisis meeting called for Tuesday, via teleSUR:

Latin American Health Ministers Will Meet About Zika Virus

Health ministers across the region will meet to share knowledge and research about the virus, for which no previous information exists

Second, and from teleSUR again, an emergency declared:

Honduras Declares State of Emergency Over Zika Virus

The Honduran government declared a state of emergency Monday due to the Zika virus after the Health Ministry reported at least 3,700 people infected nationwide

And from the Associated Press:

The Latest: Female airline crew can request no Brazil flight

Swiss International Air Lines says female flight attendants and pilots won’t be required to fly to Sao Paulo, Brazil, if they don’t want to because of the Zika virus outbreak

And one final update, via Reuters:

U.N. ready to irradiate mosquito sperm to combat Zika virus

A new method to render male mosquitoes infertile by nuclear radiation could help reduce populations of the insect carrying the Zika virus that is linked to thousands of birth defects in Brazil, the U.N. atomic agency said on Tuesday

UPDATE: From BBC News, the first case of Zika contracted within the continental U.S. has been announced by the Centers for Disease Control:

Zika virus infection ‘through sex’ reported in US

A rare case of the Zika virus being transmitted through sex, not a mosquito bite, has been reported in the US.