Changing Our DNA through Mind Control?

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Courtesy of Bret Stetka @ Scientific America:

“I think, therefore I am” is perhaps the most familiar one-liner in western philosophy. Even if the stoners, philosophers and quantum mechanically-inclined skeptics who believe we’re living an illusion are right, few existential quips hit with such profound, approachable simplicity. The only catch is that in Descartes’ opinion, “we” – our thoughts, our personalities, our “minds” – are mostly divorced from our bodies.

The polymathic Frenchman and other dualist philosophers proposed that while the mind exerts control over our physical interaction with the world, there is a clear delineation between body and mind; that our material forms are simply temporary housing for our immaterial souls. But centuries of science argue against a corporeal crash pad. The body and mind appear inextricably linked. And findings from a new study published in Cancer by a Canadian group suggest that our mental state has measurable physical influence on us – more specifically on our DNA.

Lead investigator Dr. Linda E. Carlson and her colleagues found that in breast cancer patients, support group involvement and mindfulness meditation – an adapted form of Buddhist meditation in which practitioners focus on present thoughts and actions in a non-judgmental way, ignoring past grudges and future concerns — are associated with preserved telomere length. Telomeres are stretches of DNA that cap our chromosomes and help prevent chromosomal deterioration — biology professors often liken them to the plastic tips on shoelaces. Shortened telomeres aren’t known to cause a specific disease per se, but they do whither with age and are shorter in people with cancer, diabetes, heart disease and high stress levels. We want our telomeres intact.

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How Cannabis was Used to Shrink one of the Most Aggressive Brain Cancers

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Other uses. Jordan Greentree, CC BY-SA

 Courtesy of The Conversation:

Widely proscribed around the world for its recreational uses, cannabis is being used in a number of different therapeutic ways to bring relief for severe medical conditions. Products using cannabinoids, the active components of the cannabis plant, have been licensed for medical use. Sativex, for example, which contains an equal mixture of the cannabinoids tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), is already licenced as a mouth spray for multiple sclerosis and in the US, dronabinol and nabilone are commercially available for treating cancer-related side effects.

Now, in a study published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, we’ve also shown that cannabinoids could play a role in treating one of the most aggressive cancers in adults.

There are more than 85 cannabinoids, which are known to bind to unique receptors in cells and which receive outside chemical signals. These receptors feed into signalling pathways, telling cells what to do. Recent studies have shown that some cannabinoids have potent anti-cancer action. For example, both THC and CBD have been shown in a number of laboratory studies to effectively induce cell death in tumour cells by modifying the faulty signalling pathways inside these cells. Depending on the cell type this can disrupt tumour growth or start to kill it.

The psychoactivity associated with some cannabinoids, principally THC (which gives people a cannabis high), is also mediated via the same receptors. Because these receptors are found in the highest abundances in brain cells, it follows that brain tumours also rich in these receptors may respond best to cannabinoids. Continue reading

Fungus – The Hidden Cause Of Many Illnesses?

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Courtesy of Makia Freeman @ The Sleuth Journal:

Sounds like a big claim and a sweeping generalization, but when you take a closer look at it, you will be staggered to discover just how ubiquitous the humble fungus is, and how much ill health it can cause. Let’s start at the beginning. Nature has a way of eliminating old, decaying matter, whether plant or animal: the fungus. While bacteria are also decomposers, fungi are largely unrecognized for the role they can play in disease, and breaking down the human body prematurely.

Not all every kind of fungus is “bad” or harmful to your health. For example, many of the Chinese and Japanese medicinal mushrooms, such as reishi, shiitake and maitake, are among the greatest stimulators of the immune system and are superb natural remedies. Other mushrooms like the common button mushroom are also good for your health and high in certain nutrients like vitamin D, which is hard to get from food sources. However, I am focusing here not on the more rare beneficial types of fungus, but on the more common and widespread deleterious types of fungus, including yeast (candida), strains of mold and mycotoxins.

The Humble Fungus is Everywhere

Fungi are everywhere in nature. They are tiny and practically invisible. They fly in the air. They survive the cold and dry conditions for years, dormant, just waiting to get activated by a hot, moist and dark environment, or an aerobic environment (one with sugar). They tend to attack or develop only in plants or animals that have an impaired immune system. If the plant or animal is healthy and strong, it will fight off the fungus and prevent it from taking root. However, once the plant or animal becomes weak, the fungus sets in, and slowly takes it over, killing it. The process may takes days, weeks or years. (The video clip above shows the cordyceps fungus, some types of which are actually a medicinal mushroom for humans, killing ants through the spread of its spores). Continue reading

Scientists Trigger Self-Destruct Switch in Lung Cancer Cells

See how long this takes to come to market and what price is charged. Courtesy of Cancer Research UK:

Cancer Research UK scientists have found a drug combination that can trigger the self-destruct process in lung cancer cells – paving the way for new treatments, according to research that will be presented at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference (link is external) in Liverpool next week*.

“Igniting the fuse that causes lung cancer cells to self-destruct could pave the way to a completely new treatment approach.” – Professor Henning Walczak.

When healthy cells are no longer useful they initiate a chain of events culminating in self destruction. But cancer cells swerve away from this suicide path and become immortal. This means that cells grow out of control – causing tumours to form.

The Cancer Research UK team, based at the UCL Cancer Institute (link is external), has successfully fixed this fault in lung cancer cells – reprogramming the cells to self-destruct.

Using lung cancer cells and mice the scientists showed that the combination of two drugs, called TRAIL and a CDK9 inhibitor**, altered the molecular switches in the cell suicide process – forcing the cancer cells to self-destruct.

Lead researcher, Cancer Research UK scientist Professor Henning Walczak from the UCL Cancer Institute, said: “Igniting the fuse that causes lung cancer cells to self-destruct could pave the way to a completely new treatment approach – and leave healthy cells unharmed. Continue reading

NHS cancer care could switch to private contracts in £700m plans

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NHS cancer patient and nurse (models) at the Royal Infirmary, Stoke-on-Trent. Staffordshire plans to outsource cancer care. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian

Courtesy of The Guardian:

Cancer care in the NHS could be privatised for the first time in the health service’s biggest ever outsourcing of services worth over £1.2bn.

A host of private healthcare firms have already expressed interest in securing a £689m, 10-year contract to provide cancer care at four NHS GP-led clinical commissioning group areas in Staffordshire.

The four CCGs involved, which care for 767,000 patients, are also seeking bidders for a separate £535m contract to provide end-of-life care. Together the contracts are worth £1.22bn, much more than the previous record high of £500m, secured by Richard Branson’s Virgin Care for providing various health services in Surrey.

Virgin, Care UK, Ramsay Health and other private firms, many of which have increased their role in providing NHS care amid an expansion of competition driven by the coalition’s NHS shake-up, have attended briefings run by the charity Macmillan Cancer Support, which is advising the four CCGs on the cancer contract.

Christina McAnea, head of health at the union Unison, expressed grave concerns about the plans. “This is by far the biggest procurement process in the NHS and is a dangerous experiment. We are talking about £1bn of taxpayers’ money and contracts lasting 10 years in vital cancer services and end-of-life care,” she said.

“CCGs are potentially handing over all decision-making on cancer and end-of-life care to private companies. This is much bigger than just asking private companies to provide a service: this is asking them to design the whole system. With profit as the main driving force, how can it not lead to problems?” Continue reading

Chanting Down Babylon: The CIA & The Death of Bob Marley

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Courtesy of Alex Constantine @ High Times:

Marley knew the drill – in Jamaica, at the height of his success, when music and politics were still one, before the fog of censorship rolled into the island, old wounds were opened by a wave of destabilization politics. Stories appeared in the local, regional and international press downsizing the achievements of the quasi-socialist Jamaican government under Prime Minister Michael Manley. In the late 1970s, the island was flooded with cheap guns, heroin, cocaine, right-wing propaganda, death squad rule and, as Grenada’s Prime Minister Maurice Bishop described it three years later, the CIA’s “pernicious attempts [to] wreck the economy.”

“Destabilization,” Bishop told the emergent New Jewel Party, “is the name given the most recently developed method of controlling and exploiting the lives and resources of a country and its people by a bigger and more powerful country through bullying, intimidation and violence.”

In response to the fascistic machinations of the CIA, Marley wove his lyrics into a revolutionary crucifix to ward off the cloak-and-dagger “vampires” descending upon the island. June 1976: Then-Governor-General Florizel Glasspole placed Jamaica under martial law to stanch the bloody pre-election violence. Prime Minister Manley’s People’s National Party asked the Wailers to play at the Smile Jamaica concert in December. Despite the rising political mayhem, Marley agreed to perform.

In late November, a death squad slipped beneath the gates of Marley’s home on Hope Road in Kingston. As biographer Timothy White tells it, at about 9 PM, “the torpor of the quiet tropical night was interrupted by a queer noise that was not quite like a firecracker.” Marley was in the kitchen at the rear of the house eating a grapefruit when he heard the bursts of automatic gunfire. Don Taylor, Marley’s manager, had been talking to the musician when the bullets ripped through the back of his legs. The men were “peppering the house with a barrage of rifle and pistol fire, shattering windows and splintering plaster and woodwork on the first floor.” Rita Marley, trying to escape with her children and a reporter from the Jamaica Daily News, was shot by one of the men in the front yard. The bullet caught her in the head, lifting her off her feet as it burrowed between scalp and skull.

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Mind the Fracking Data Gap, Study Says

Courtesy of Climate Central.org:

Scientists have long expressed concern about how a lack of data and access to drilling sites prevents a complete scientific assessment of how hydraulic fracturing and oil and gas production affect the climate, environment and public health.

A new University of Texas-Austin analysis of natural gas drilling and fracking in urban areas near Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, not only criticizes state and federal regulatory agencies for dismissing public concern about the health and environmental impacts of shale oil and gas development, but illuminates the large gap in understanding about what shale oil and gas production mean for public health and the environment in Texas and beyond.

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An oil and gas field near Odessa, Texas.
Credit: Dennis Dimick/Flickr

Shale oil and gas production, which is expanding rapidly across much of the central U.S., is likely to be a driver of climate change, not only because burning petroleum products produced there emits vast amounts of carbon dioxide, but because natural gas production and distribution systems are likely to leak methane, a gas about 35 times more potent than carbon as a greenhouse gas.

But the gap in scientists’ understanding of what shale oil and gas development means for the environment and human health is significant, said Susan Brantley, a Pennsylvania State University biogeochemist studying the impacts of shale gas development in Pennsylvania. Brantley, unaffiliated with the UT-Austin study, is among the scientists who have spoken out about the fracking data gap. Continue reading