Archive for the ‘Health’ Category
Rubber cement is a versatile adhesive made from latex polymers mixed in acetone or other solvents. Paul Van Cleef invented the adhesive for use in the Van Cleef Brothers factory in Chicago, Illinois in the early 1900s. It is part of the class of drying adhesives: as the solvents quickly evaporate, the “rubber” portion remains behind, forming a strong yet flexible bond. Often a small percentage of alcohol is added to the mix. Alcohol does not pose a problem, but acetone – a solvent widely used in nail polish removers – does irreparable damage on polished surfaces and many plastics.
Most brands of rubber cement available for purchase today have the same basic formula, although many manufacturers made slight adjustments after learning that the benzene in rubber cement could be linked to the development of certain cancers. However, the solvents used in rubber cement still present many hazards, such as potential of abuse as inhalants and fire. For this reason, as with any adhesive, rubber cement should be used in an open area, and care needs be taken to avoid heat sources such as n-heptane and n-hexane are highly flammable.
Kids have known for ages that sniffing rubber cement can make you a little high, and it has the potential for abuse as an inhalant. When the fumes from rubber cement are inhaled on a regular basis, they produce effects that are similar to the result of alcohol consumption. However, the effects of huffing or sniffing this glue can include brain damage, cardiac arrest, dizziness, hallucinations, and serious heart or lung problems. It also kills a zillion brain cells.
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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which regulates cosmetics in the United States defines cosmetics as: “intended to be applied to the human body for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance without affecting the body’s structure or functions.” Interestingly, the definition of cosmetics really hasn’t changed much since its first usage in Egypt around 3500 BC, but (luckily) the ingredients certainly have.
Besides the Egyptians, the ancient Greeks and Romans also used cosmetics. The Romans and Ancient Egyptians used cosmetics containing poisonous mercury and often lead. The ancient kingdom of Israel was influenced by cosmetics as recorded in the Old Testament—2 Kings 9:30 where Jezebel painted her eyelids—approximately 840 BC. The Biblical book of Esther describes various beauty treatments as well. Women have used burnt matches to darken their eyes, berries to stain their lips and young boys’ urine to fade their freckles. They even swallowed ox blood in some misguided attempt to improve their complexions.
However, they have also put their health at risk with many of their homemade cosmetics. In some cultures, for example, women used arsenic, lead, mercury, and even leeches to give themselves the pale appearance deemed beautiful in the old days. A popular fad for women during the Middle Ages was to have a pale-skinned complexion, which was achieved through either applying pastes of lead, chalk, or flour, or by bloodletting. Women would also put white lead pigment that was known as “ceruse” on their faces to appear to have pale skin. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way from the days of using toxic and deadly mixtures to enhance our looks. But it makes you wonder if all of the products we slather on our faces on a daily basis are as benign as we think they are.
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A zoonosis is any infectious disease that can be transmitted from non-human animals (both wild and domestic) to humans, or from humans to non-human animals (the latter is sometimes called reverse zoonosis or anthroponosis). Zoonotic diseases are anything but rare: of the 1415 pathogens known to affect humans, 61% are zoonotic, and have been with us since early historical times- there are biblical references to plague, a bacterial zoonosis mainly transmitted to humans by fleas; and some historians contend that a disease first described by Thucydides during the Plague of Athens (430–425 B.C.E.) was typhus, a louse-borne zoonosis.
In fact, many modern diseases, even epidemic diseases, started out as zoonotic diseases. It is hard to be certain which diseases jumped from other animals to humans, but there is good evidence that measles, smallpox, influenza, HIV, and diphtheria came to us this way. The common cold, and tuberculosis may also have started in other species. Other examples of zoonoses include rabies (a viral disease that can be transmitted to humans through an infected animal’s bite) and psittacosis (a chlamydial infection resembling influenza that is spread to humans by the droppings of infected birds).
The major factor contributing to the appearance of new zoonotic pathogens in human populations is increased contact between humans and wildlife. This can be caused either by encroachment of human activity into wilderness areas or by movement of wild animals into areas of human activity due to anthropological or environmental disturbances. Other risk factors may include: (1) alteration of the environment, affecting the size and distribution of certain animal species, vectors, and transmitters of infectious agents to humans; (2) industrialization of foods of animal origin—that is, changes in food processing and consumer nutritional habits; (3) increasing movements of people, as well as an increased trade in animals and animal products; and (4) decreasing surveillance and control of some of the major zoonoses.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but zoonotic diseases aren’t disappearing anytime soon. In fact, there has been a disturbing reemergence of previously recognized zoonoses that were believed to be under control. To make matters worse, a number of deadly new zoonotic diseases have emerged in recent history, most notably HIV/AIDS, which arose from nonhuman primates, and at some point “jumped” to humans. In fact, scientists agree that the greatest potential threat posed by zoonotic diseases is the hidden potential of what uber diseases might arise in the future.
Christ on Crutches! What disease could possibly be worse than the HIV/AIDS pandemic?!? My imagination fails me.
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Anabolic steroids are man-made substances related to male sex hormones. They were initially developed in the late 1930s primarily to treat hypogonadism, a condition in which the testes do not produce sufficient testosterone for normal growth, development, and sexual functioning. However, scientists soon discovered that anabolic steroids could facilitate the growth of skeletal muscle in laboratory animals.
This discovery led to abuse of these compounds by bodybuilders and weightlifters and then by athletes in other sports, known colloquially as “juicing.” However, using anabolic steroids to enhance athletic prowess is truly a Faustian bargain. Abuse of anabolic steroids has been linked with many health problems. They range from unattractive to life threatening and include:
• Acne and cysts;
• Breast growth and shrinking of testicles in men;
• Voice deepening and growth of body hair in women;
• Heart problems, including heart attack;
• Liver disease, including cancer; and
• Aggressive behavior.
Anabolic steroids can be taken orally, injected intramuscularly, or rubbed on the skin when in the form of gels or creams. These drugs are often used in patterns called cycling, which involves taking multiple doses of steroids over a specific period of time, stopping for a period, and starting again. Users also frequently combine several different types of steroids in a process known as stacking. By doing this, users believe that the different steroids will interact to produce an effect on muscle size that is greater than the effects of using each drug individually.
Another mode of steroid use is “pyramiding.” This is a process in which users slowly escalate steroid use (increasing the number of drugs used at one time and/or the dose and frequency of one or more steroids) reaching a peak amount at mid-cycle and gradually tapering the dose toward the end of the cycle.
Ergogenic uses for anabolic steroids in sports and bodybuilding are controversial because of their adverse effects and the potential to gain an advantage conventionally considered “cheating.” Their use is referred to as doping and banned by all major sporting bodies. For many years AAS have been by far the most detected doping substances in IOC-accredited laboratories. In countries where AAS are controlled substances, there is often a black market in which smuggled or even counterfeit drugs are sold to users.
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A nightmare is a type of dream that exclusively occurs during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, and that arouses feelings of intense, inescapable fear, terror, distress, or extreme anxiety that usually awakens the sleeper. They can cause a strong negative emotional response from the sleeper, typically fear and/or horror. The dream may contain situations of danger, discomfort, psychological or physical terror. Sufferers usually awaken in a state of distress and may be unable to return to sleep for a prolonged period of time.
Nightmares can have physical causes such as sleeping in an uncomfortable or awkward position, having a fever, or psychological causes such as stress and anxiety. Eating before bed, which triggers an increase in the body’s metabolism and brain activity, is a potential stimulus for nightmares. Particularly among adults, prescription drugs such as levedopa, reserpine, beta blockers, and antidepressants, as well as withdrawal from addictive drugs, all can provoke nightmares. Heavy drinking also is strongly associated with nightmares.
Some people have significant psychological problems that are causing bad dreams. It is important to consider psychotherapy to pinpoint major life stressors, past traumatic events and depression that might be causing bad dreams. Chronic nightmares have also been treated by a desensitization method that uses instruction about rehearsal of the nightmare and the imagining of a different ending.
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So what came first, the toothbrush or the toothpaste? According to the historical record, toothpaste was used to clean teeth long before the toothbrush was invented. Egyptians are believed to have started using a paste to clean their teeth around 5000BC. Ancient Greeks and Romans are also known to have used toothpastes, and people in China and India first used toothpaste around 500BC.
Ancient toothpastes were used to treat some of the same concerns that we have today – keeping teeth and gums clean, whitening teeth and freshening breath. However, the ingredients of ancient toothpastes were very different than what we use today. Ingredients used included an appetizing combination of ox hooves’ ashes, burnt eggshells and pumice. The Greeks and Romans favored more abrasiveness and their toothpaste ingredients included crushed bones and oyster shells. The Romans added more flavoring to help with bad breath, as well as powdered charcoal and bark. The Chinese relied on more palpable substances in toothpastes, included ginseng, herbal mints and salt.
Toothpaste as we know it came into general use in the 19th century. By 1900, a paste made of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda was recommended for use with toothbrushes. Pre-mixed toothpastes were first marketed in the 19th century, but did not surpass the popularity of tooth powder until World War I. Fluoride toothpastes to help prevent decay were introduced in 1914.
Toothpastes with very low abrasiveness were also developed and helped prevent the problems caused by overzealous brushing. The most recent advances in toothpastes have included the development of whitening toothpastes, and toothpaste containing Triclosan which provides extra protection against caries, gum disease, plaque, calculus and bad breath.
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Prostaglandins are a group any naturally occurring, chemically related fatty acids that stimulate contractility of the uterine and other smooth muscle and are able to lower blood pressure, regulate acid secretion of the stomach, regulate body temperature and platelet aggregation, and control inflammation and vascular permeability. They are mediators and have a variety of strong physiological effects, and they also affect the action of certain hormones.
Prostaglandins have a variety of physiological effects including:
1. Activation of the inflammatory response, production of pain, and fever. When tissues are damaged, white blood cells flood to the site to try to minimize tissue destruction. Prostaglandins are produced as a result.
2. Blood clots form when a blood vessel is damaged. A type of prostaglandin called thromboxane stimulates constriction and clotting of platelets. Conversely, PGI2, is produced to have the opposite effect on the walls of blood vessels where clots should not be forming.
3. Certain prostaglandins are involved with the induction of labor and other reproductive processes. PGE2 causes uterine contractions and has been used to induce labor.
4. Prostaglandins are involved in several other organs such as the gastrointestinal tract (inhibit acid synthesis and increase secretion of protective mucus), increase blood flow in kidneys, and leukotriens promote constriction of bronchi associated with asthma.
Prostaglandins differ from hormones in that they are not produced at a discrete site but in many places throughout the human body. Also, their target cells are present in the immediate vicinity of the site of their excretion (of which there are many).
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