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Comment Re:Its the subsidies that are the problem (Score 1) 542

Cheaper food is safer food!

Corn syrup only looks cheaper at the store, because you already paid for it with your taxes.

The Agriculture Bill is one of the biggest items in the budget-- $121.1 billion in 2009- that's about $363 per American, so it is easy to see how it can distort prices of things at the market.

Farmers are rewarded for overproducing with guaranteed prices that encourage them to grow unlimited amounts on minimal acres. Only way to do that is maximize chemical inputs, adding to the profits of Exxon and Dow and Big Chem.

Big Pharma gets to try to keep all those cows alive in CAFOS by feeding them most of the antibiotics that are produced.

A system only lobbyists for the biggest old companies could love.


High Fructose Corn Syrup Causes Bigger Weight Gain In Rats 542

krou writes "In an experiment conducted by a Princeton University team, 'Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.' Long-term consumption also 'led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides.' Psychology professor Bart Hoebel commented that 'When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they're becoming obese — every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don't see this; they don't all gain extra weight.'"

Comment It Came from Hormel, Cargil, ADM, and the Taxpayer (Score 1) 404

Thanks so much for the story on Gram Negative infections. A MRSA hospital infection killed my dad, so I follow the issue closely.

Unfortunately, I believe they left out the most important point.

You have to ask- where are these resistant bugs coming from? Doctors tend to assume they evolve in people using antibiotics. Or they come from Nature's repository. Not likely.

But in truth, the majority are coming from a really stupid, short sighted and corrupt business practice we should abandon on economic grounds if not health grounds: CAFOs. (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations- as promoted by misguided Govt policy.) For respectable background see

But that isn't strongly enough stated. We know H1N1 came from the neighborhood of a Cargill Pork CAFO in Mexico. We know some strains of MRSA in the UK came from pork plants in the Netherlands. We know where nasty e-Coli comes from- Beef CAFO's in the USA. Doctors are mostly ignorant of the impact of using most of our antibiotics to help keep "healthy" animals alive and happily obese in tiny factory feed lots.

If terrorists decided to create a super-bug to kill us all, they could hardly do better than build a modern CAFO.

And CAFO's are not even the cheapest way to make meat. They are the most efficient way to gather the largest amount of taxpayer subsidies (mostly for corn) together in the smallest space. Cheaper meat (for the consumer and taxpayer) would actually be safer meat! We simply cannot afford to breed superbugs to make meat 5% cheaper (for the meat packer)!

Comment Re:Taking Kidneys offline (Score 5, Informative) 404

Theoretically yes. It would just take rerouting the incoming kidney blood supply into a loop to bypass it into dialysis. However, you would likely have to filter the drugs out, pass it back to the kidney, reroute it out again and restore the drug. Wouldn't help if your kidneys died from lack of blood supply. Last case scenario stuff probably though.

While the idea sounds like a good idea on paper, I have to tell you, as a practicing surgeon, it really sucks.

First let me clear up, the antibiotics themselves are either directly nephrotoxic (damage the kidneys) or their breakdown products are. Its not a matter of taking the kidneys “off-line”. And in addition not all drugs are removed with dialysis.

To access both renal arteries and veins (assuming normal anatomy many people have duplicated renal vascular systems) is not an benign undertaking. The vessels are in the retroperitoneum (behind all the structures in the "classic" abdominal cavity. So it is not a "trivial" procedure. Next to totally bypass the kidneys is not a great idea...extended bypass systems tend to cause a lot of damage to the blood, they can speed up the drestructiong of red cells (oxygen carrying) and platelets (clotting cells). The circuit also tends to active the clotting system and you get a paradoxical, hyper/hypo-coagulable state. This is similar to DIC (Disseminated intravascular coagulation) []

Also the bypass circuit itself is made of synthetic material with acts to harbor bacteria. Given large scale infections, we as surgeon, routinely remove all sorts of prosthetics (AV graft material used for dialysis, artificially heart valves, pacemakers, rods and screws from orthopedic procedures)

The information in the article itself is not new. When I did a rotation in a burn unit in 2004, we had a standing problem with the unit harboring several species of Acinetobacter, and these organisms were resistant to all the antibiotics that the lab routinely tested. We routinely had to use Imipenem(tm) []. And it was not unusual to have bugs start to build resistance to that drug. We usually had to resort to poly-pharmacy as opposed to mono-therapy as we usually prefer.

Again as I posted a few weeks ago: As physicians we need to be vigilant in our use of antibiotics, but patients need to be respectful of them as well and to stop asking for an antibiotic (that is useless for viral infections) for every little sniffle when you have the common cold or flu (both caused by viruses).

Forgive me for quoting wikipedia, but I felt some footnotes were warrented. I usually yell at my students and residents when they quote it to me, but for the level of discussion here, it is adequate.


New Wave of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria 404

reporter writes "New strains of 'Gram-negative' bacteria have become resistant to all safe antibiotics. Though methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is the best-known antibiotic-resistant germ, the new class of resistant bacteria could be more dangerous still. 'The bacteria, classified as Gram-negative because of their reaction to the so-called Gram stain test, can cause severe pneumonia and infections of the urinary tract, bloodstream, and other parts of the body. Their cell structure makes them more difficult to attack with antibiotics than Gram-positive organisms like MRSA.' The only antibiotics — colistin and polymyxin B — that still have efficacy against Gram-negative bacteria produce dangerous side effects: kidney damage and nerve damage. Patients who are infected with Gram-negative bacteria must make the unsavory choice between life with kidney damage or death with intact kidneys. Recently, some new strains of Gram-negative bacteria have shown resistance against even colistin and polymyxin B. Infection with these new strains typically means death for the patient."

Comment Cute Like Video Game Creatures (Score 1) 154

These dogs are hilarious to watch- they are oddly similar. It is like you are in the Matrix and you notice the same dog over an over again- Uh Oh! Or the video game developer couldn't afford art assets for more than one dog geometry- but its real!
Mixed feelings about escalating the drug-war technology. We had an airport in South Carolina evacuated in fear of a bomb threat, because a sniffer dog alerted authorities about a soap star's dainty purse with a reefer hidden inside it. Gotta decide what you want dogs looking for, bombs or drugs.
Of course they have trained dogs and pigs to sniff for cancer, so this is an area of technology where there can be other spin offs.

Comment ROI on DDT is probably better... (Score 1) 354

We had nearly wiped out malaria. It was down to a few cases. But we banned DDT and it came back and is now the 2nd biggest killer on the planet.

We are likely to make the same mistake with Polio- forgetting to go the final inch. Almost eradicated is not the same as eradicated.

DDT was used terribly irresponsibly. They sprayed my whole suburban neighborhood in Michigan where no malaria had been seen in 100 years. They killed all the bugs and birds and probably started quite a few extra Dioxin cancers, to avoid a few bites.

But DDT is a really amazing insect repellent. Mosquitoes turn around and fly away from a house where the walls have been sprayed with just a small amount. That saves lives!

I'm a big believer in lasers and robotics to kill pest bugs on plants and weeds.

But we already know how to stop malaria. Long lasting mosquito nets and a bit of DDT and good basic health care and treatment of infected people is the answer we can afford.

Just because we used DDT irresponsibly shouldn't give us the right to ban it worldwide. We should have found a way to continue to use it in a more appropriate fashion. We could have taxed it to make massive applications unaffordable. Could have treated it as a prescription medicine for treating the house.

If we had regulated DDT right, the worlds 2nd biggest killer would no longer bother us, and one million people a year would not die of it.

Comment SyFy just came out as a Dyke channel (Score 1) 798

SciFi just came out of the closet and renamed herself SyFy... They will now be focusing on the girl-geek-dyke market, which may be few in number, but great in enthusiasm. With all those cable channels there has to be one for every niche. The wrestling will be replaced by roller-derby and Lacrosse.

Submission + - Manhattan Transit Crippled by Rain (

hyperventilate writes: The Google Trend today is all about New York's MTA transit authority, according to the New York Times.

Chalk it up to another "Maybe Global Warming" story, but New Yorkers are having an awful hard time commuting this morning. Every subway line is effected by station flooding.

And to rub salt in the wound, the MTA's website is suffering from a flood too, whether it be of packets or H2O is uncertain.

Our critical infrastructure doesn't seem very weather resistant.

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