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How, why and when to fall asleep

My recent cruise trough my mail lead to few quite interesting articles I'd like to post here and comment them. They are 3- on sleep-how to fall asleep quicker and why the short nap is very useful.

First on naps. I find that article to be quite correct. Sometimes when I sleep in the afternoon when I wake up I feel like shot in the head. Mostly when I sleep for more than an hour. Other times, when I just lay my head on the pillow for half an hour and manage to get to the dreamy visions, just enough to get in that stage, but not long enough to really fall asleep, I feel so full of energy! So read and learn :) If you want a nice nap, never sleep for more than 40 minutes in a row. (And here's the NewScientist confirmation of the articles below)

Supercharge Your Energy With Power Naps

By Kacper M. Postawski
Creator of the Sleep Wiz Revitalizing Program

Naps are very good for you -- but only IF you understand how the sleep system works, and if you know how to nap PROPERLY.

It's important to understand your circadian rhythm and light exposure -- and how they control your physical and mental energy.

Few people realize that they're not just “dead to the world” when they're sleeping. Sleep is actually a very complex state responsible for healing and energizing our bodies.

When you sleep you go through five specific “sleep stages.” During stages 1 and 2 you sleep “lightly” and are easily wakened. Such sleep does not alter your circadian rhythm radically enough to create a disturbance in your inner sleep system.

The energizing effects of Stage 1 and 2 sleep are very beneficial. Just 10 minutes of sleep in these stages can restore your energy to the point that you feel as if you had slept for 8 hours.

The best approach is to take “Power Naps” -- or what I refer to as “Stage 2 limited naps" that do not take you beyond stage 2 sleep.

Deep sleep comprises stages 3, 4 and 5 sleep stages. During deep sleep your body undergoes a MASSIVE physiological change, and your body temperature, heart rate, respiration all drop substantially.

During this time your blood vessels dilate, and the blood normally stored in your main organs during the day is then channeled to your muscles to repair them.

If you enter such deep sleep during the day, your circadian rhythm and “inner sleep clock” is seriously thrown out of balance - often resulting in lower energy levels. But if you use naps properly, you can boost your energy levels drastically, and reduce your sleep time drastically.

For the average person, from 45- to 90-minutes are required to enter “stage 3-5 deep sleep.”

This is why you should keep your nap down to a maximum of 45-minutes, and even that can be too long. The most energizing power naps are usually "cat naps" from 10- to 20-minutes long.

There are two vital things that can allow you to "engineer" your sleep system using power naps -- and lower your need for sleep, while boosting your energy:

  • You must know exactly what the best time during the day is to take your power nap.
  • You must know exactly what to do AFTER your nap in order to speed up your bodily temperature rise.source

The following one is very short and is about a survey that found that a very short nap can boost your memory. But it's not definitive so you just try it and it may or may not work.

Six-Minute Nap May Boost Memory

Source: BBC

Even the shortest of catnaps may be enough to improve performance in memory tests, say German scientists.
Just six minutes "shut-eye" for volunteers was followed by significantly better recall of words, New Scientist magazine reported.
"Ultra-short" sleep could launch memory processing in the brain, they suggested.
One UK researcher disagreed, saying that longer sleep was needed to have an impact on memory.
Dozens of studies have probed the relationship between sleep and memory, with clear evidence that body's natural sleep-wake cycle plays an important role.
The team from the University of Dusseldorf wanted to see just how short a sleep could have any discernable impact.

They used a group of students who were asked to remember a set of words, then given an hour's break before testing. During that hour, some of the students were allowed to sleep for approximately six minutes, while the rest were kept asleep.
Remarkably, on waking, the napping students performed better in the memory test.

Some theories suggests that the processing of memories takes place in deep sleep, a phase which does not normally start until at least 20 minutes after falling asleep.
However, the team, led by Dr Olaf Lahl, said that it was possible that the moment of falling asleep triggered a process in the brain that continued regardless of how long the person actually stayed awake.
source

Now, I have problems with sleep for quite a while. I find the following article to be quite correct. Don't say "you have problems still, how can it be correct?". Well it is. Because the method is working, it's just that i'm not always able or willing to make it work. But when I want to fall asleep I do this-first stop my thoughts I best as I can, mostly just saying no to them and focusing on a part of me, for example my feet or hand and trying NOT to move even a bit. And then I start counting. That usually makes me so bored I fall asleep. The article below explains why this works.

How to Put Your Mind to Sleep Quickly

By Kacper M. Postawski

Creator of the Sleep Wiz Revitalizing Program

If you often lay awake, unable to put your mind to rest while you're tossing and turning, you're going to love what you're about to read, because I'm about to share with you one of the most powerful methods for quickly shutting off your mind, and drifting off to sleep.

As you may already know, your mind must be in the Alpha brain-wave stage to fall asleep. This is the stage your mind enters you're still conscious, but your body and begin to relax. It enables your more rampant and conscious mind to turn off as you enter the realm of sleep.

We all know how it feels... when you're lying awake in bed trying to fall asleep, it seems like your mind is running on hyper-speed. It's almost like you're thinking 10 times faster than when you're just normally awake and alert.

In my books and articles on sleep, I often teach a principle: "What you focus on expands." You see, your mind responds to focus, and it goes hand in hand with the law of momentum. What is the law of momentum? Quite simply:

"Energy in motion, tends to STAY in motion"
"Energy stopped, tends to STAY stopped"

In other words, if you take action in your life, and begin to create success, you will experience more and more success every day. Success breeds success. On the other hand, procrastination only leads to more procrastination.

The law of momentum is everywhere in life, in physics, with your body, and most importantly, with your "thoughts." You see, your thinking is very predictable, it all works on the law of focus and momentum. Your mind is like a big ball of potential thinking energy, just waiting for you to give it a direction to think wildly into...

Imagine your mind like a giant overflowing lake that's just waiting for an outlet to pour into... Slowly, when it finds an outlet, it begins with a trickle of water. That trickle turns into a stream. Then, that stream turns into a small river. Pretty soon, the small river is a giant unstoppable waterfall. Your thoughts work in the same way when you're "trying" to fall asleep.

For example, you're laying in bed, frustrated, forcing your mind to not think. "I just want to get some sleep! Stop thinking. Okay, starting now... I won't think anymore. No think... nothing. My life is nothing... If only I would finally get motivated in my job maybe I would finally create the income to start traveling instead of dealing with these problems. Problems, how can I... Ahh, I'm thinking again! Stop!"

You get even more frustrated, and repeat the process over again in a few minutes. So how do you stop it?

The 3-Step Process for Controlling Your Mind

Step 1: Awareness
The first step to changing anything is becoming aware that it's happening, especially if it's your mind. Pretend your mind is racing, and you finally realize that you're thinking... Most people at this stage get extremely frustrated and "try" to force the mind into submission. It doesn't work! Why? Because, what you focus on expands. The more frustrated you get, the more you're focusing on frustration, so you'll get even MORE frustration, and more thinking... on and on!

So the first step, is to simply become "aware" of the fact that you're thinking. Nothing more. When you notice that you're thinking, smile to yourself, and say, "I just noticed myself thinking... Interesting..."

The moment you do this, the moment you become "Aware" - you are no longer a slave to your mind. You have won. After you become aware... do nothing, just lay there for 3 seconds and notice how it feels to be present in who you really are, not the mind, but you, the "I" - there is a great feeling of peace behind that presence in the "I." Why? Because when you are aware like this, you're aware of the power of your choice making. You now have the power of choice.

Step 2: Relaxed Focus
"What you focus on expands." Now that you have become aware of your thinking. All you have to do is "direct" your mind into a place that will bring you into a deep, deep place of relaxation.

But, most people don't know what that direction really is. It's really easy. If you focus on anything your body does or feels subconsciously, you will begin to become more and more realized. For example your breathing, the feeling of the pillow on your head, the sounds of nature outside (unless you live in the city), the warmth of your body. These are all things that happen, yet your conscious mind doesn't think about them.

As you know, "What you focus on, expands"... So what would happen if you focused on something that is happening in your "subconscious"? That's right, your conscious thinking would diminish, and your subconscious mind would begin to take over the entire process of you falling asleep! It really is that simple, and it works every-time.

The easiest one, is your breathing. And I promise you if you just try this tonight, you will be shocked when you wake up in the morning: "Wow! It worked!"

Step 3: Repetition
As I said, the easiest one to focus on is your breathing. In the beginning, you'll find this easier said than done. Let me walk you through it.

  • Begin by taking your focus onto your breathing. Take a deep breath in. Hold it for a short while, and slowly exhale...
  • Count "1"
  • Breathe in again... hold it shortly, exhale slowly, and count...
  • "2"

Why count? Because I guarantee you, in the very beginning, you may find it challenging to hold your focus. In fact, you'll be surprised as you may not even make it to "5" the first time. This is because your conscious ever-thinking mind will butt in and interrupt. You may randomly go off into a barrage of thoughts again. If this happens, and it very well may, what do you do?

Simply become aware, and begin focusing on your breathing again. Guess what happens? As you become aware, 2 or 3 times... your mind will give up. I guarantee you, beyond the shadow of a doubt, when you get to "10" or "15" breaths you will feel a wave of relaxation in your body. This is the silent "click" as your mind shifts from the high frequency Beta brain-waves into Alpha brain-waves. Your subconscious mind will do the rest!source

The power of your energy

Ever wondered what is luck? Here's an article that has very clear idea about it.
I find I agree with that article and I hope you understand why. I tend to be much more lucky when I'm happy and rolling and tend to have all kind of freaky incidents when I'm low.

Read it, you won't be sorry and don't worry, they are not selling anything :) A funny comment I can make is that in a book I read recently, the luck was a virus that you can for example drink and have the chance on your side. It was very funny how the hero licked a little bit of it and the gun pointed at her couldn't fire. Ok, seriously:

Your Energy Level Determines Your Luck

Secrets of Mind and Reality

Many people think that luck is something that is purely random, unpredictable and difficult to control. That is because they do not know what luck really is. When you are able to know the true definition of luck, you can learn the whole science behind this phenomena and gain control over it.

Luck is another aspect of your reality and perhaps the most powerful and important one. The more conscious and aware you become of the elements of your reality, the more of a conscious and powerful creator you will be.

Your luck is your psychokinetic resonance with the environment you are in. Like everything else, luck is an energy. It is something that is quantifiable not in physical but in nonphysical ways. You can quantify it physically only in terms of its physical manifestations in your life. Luck is dependent on time, place and consciousness.

When you are lucky, you are in mental and emotional resonance with your surroundings.
When you are unlucky, it is the opposite. The level of resonance is the level of your luck.

A state of vibrational harmony or disharmony with your environment is the whole explanation for this. You either feel that things are in a flow or things are disrupted.

Your energy level determines your luck vibration. At times when you are feeling low of energy, that is also when your luck vibration is at a low point. You are more likely to make careless mistakes, become more accident prone and flop up in some way. When you are feeling high of energy, that is also when your luck vibration is in a high state. You are sharper, clearer and more in the zone. You seem to be able to do amazing things in ways that baffle others to the point that makes you seem very skillful or lucky.

Actually luck and skill are one. The more in energetic resonance you are with your environment, the more your skill will work and the luckier you'll seem. You can never separate luck from skill because after all, they are both part of the same thing called psychokinetic resonance with the environment. Your skill is your capability of handling the situation which depends on luck.

Once you know that luck is an energy, you can depend on it in that manner. You cannot depend on luck that is considered to be random chance occurrence. You can't depend on such things because they do not exist. A non existent thing cannot be depended upon. Everything that exists is a part of consciousness and can be controlled by consciousness. Therefore luck exist and is fully under your control. Knowing this, you never have to fear of bad luck because you can make all things work in your favor.

Since luck is dependent on energy, you have to pay attention to your level of energy in every moment and take charge of it. When you notice that your energy level is low, be more careful with the things you do especially if they are important. You may make mistakes that usually never happen, and wonder how could you be so unlucky or stupid.

Lack of focus and lack of being adequately present minded also creates bad luck. Do you notice that when you make stupid mistakes in situations, you felt that you were not ready? What do you mean by not being ready? You mean that you weren't focusing properly or fully enough, and you weren't being adequately present minded. The first step to controlling luck is to be present minded. If you want to be lucky, you must put your focus in the activity you are doing. Or else you'd create bad luck and mistakes.

Your level of focus and placing your mind in the present determines your psychokinetic resonance with the environment. Focusing is how you channel energy towards a particular time and place. When your focus is here, your energy is channeled here and you experience luck here. Where you focus is where you generate luck in. That is why the secret of success is focus. Successful people are lucky people because they have more focus than the unsuccessful and unlucky ones. Focus to be a lucky one.

Seek to maintain a high level of energy or vibration at all times. At times when your energy is low, seek to increase it to a higher level again. Do not continue doing any work at a low level of energy because you will tend to make mistakes. Recharge your energy first, then work.

Be aware of negative thoughts and feelings that will bring your level of energy or vibration lower. Positive thoughts and feelings bring your energy level and vibrations higher. Therefore choose to think positive thoughts and feel positive emotions, and you will experience more luck and success in your life. You can also increase your luck when you are more intent of succeeding in a certain situation. Your energy of intent will energize you with the luck you need, and that is why willful intent bends the world to you. source

Sunlight healing

Here's an article on sunlight. A little warning. Sun IS dangerous! Don't underestimate it no matter what you read. I am a big sun lover and I rarely use sun screen. But I make sun baths only from 9-12h (ok, in my case from 11 to 13 :) ) and from 16-18h. When I have to be out all day in the summer, I always put sun screen with factor 16-20.
This is extremely important, because at noon the atmosphere protection is the least and the Sun can be very damaging. And my complexion is rather dark. Or ok, not dark, but at least not fair. So if you want to do that, please do it according to your skin type. If you're very white, enjoy the sun before 11am and after 16h, do it gradually and only to the point you feel all right. There's no point in burning like a crab just to prove you don't believe industries. And mind the climate you're living it- last time I was out in 11am in Spain in August I wouldn't stay in the Sun for more than a minute. Literally. So please be smart! Don't know about skin cancers, but the Sun definitely burns your skin which is painful and ages the skin if you get over-exposed. And nobody really wants the skin to look aged, right! So show up moderately and smartly and use lotion after that to make the skin healthy again.

As for healing with sunlight I have few things to say first. Besides your production of vitamin D and burning bad cholesterol that Sun does for us, it's very good for our eyes. No, not good, but essential. I don't mean walking without glasses with adequate protection at Noon! But our eyes need the sun and many conditions can be healed with exposure to sunlight. There is an exercise that first make you stay with closed eyes in direction of the Sun for a while(again, done early morning or little bit before Sunset-before the Sun gets red, but when it's least powerful! watching into the Sun in Midday can cause blindness!!!) and then covering your eyes and imagining a completely dark place. This relax your eyes unbelievably. After a month of this, you can open your eyes for few seconds and watch the Sun and then again do the dark place meditation. It's very beneficial, but again watching the Sun for more than few seconds can cause blindness, please don't do any stupid things! Just for a second or two and not if you feel burning pain. And when the Sun is least strong according to your climate. /sorry for repeating all this, again and again, but it's important/.
Another thing the Sun is beneficial for is sleeping. Our natural cycle of sleeping is dependent on the quantity of Sunlight we receive. We tend to spend too much time on artificial light, working, having fun and our body simply can't register what time it is and what it is supposed to do. So if you have problems with night sleep, you might consider exposing yourself to more sunlight. That means get out for lunch, have a little walk on the Sun. Just enjoy the sunlight. If you want to know more about this just google sunlight for better sleep or something like this.
And yes, lastly, the sun exposure kills depression /proven/, burns fats /proven/ and generally improve your sexual drive. And what's best than some sexual healing :)
And now the article (it's rather long, but very informative! I liked the fact that despite the whole industries of sun-screeners the quantity of skin caners hasn't decreased in USA):

Heal Yourself With Sunlight

By Andreas Moritz
Author of
Timeless Secrets of Health & Rejuvenation

The time when one’s immediate natural impulse on the first sunny spring day was to get outside and enjoy it is long gone.

Only the very courageous or “careless” who defy the grim warnings from medical mandarins and cancer specialists, wholeheartedly endorsed by the sunscreen industry, dare to venture forth into the “dangerous” sun.

Unless they are covered head to toe with sun protection factor (SPF) 60, they gamble with their lives, or so they are made to believe, by those who serve their own vested interests.

Fortunately, this view is beginning to crumble in the blatant absence of scientific proof that sunlight causes disease. What is being discovered instead is that lack of sun exposure is one of the greatest risk factors for disease.

Very few people know that not getting enough sun kills 50,000 people from cancer deaths every year in the US alone. As shown later, these are deaths that are easily preventable through the Vitamin D produced by the body in response to regular sun exposure.

Unfortunately, it is the ultraviolet portion of sunlight that is the most easily eliminated by windows, houses, spectacles, sunglasses, sun lotions, and clothing.

Before antibiotic drugs were discovered in the 1930s – penicillin having been the first one – the healing power of sunlight was favored by the medical community, at least in Europe.

Sunlight therapy, called heliotherapy, was indeed considered to be the most successful treatment for infectious diseases from the late 19th to the mid-20th century. Studies revealed that exposing patients to controlled amounts of sunlight dramatically lowered elevated blood pressure (up to 40 mm Hg drop), decreased cholesterol in the bloodstream, lowered abnormally high blood sugar in diabetics, and increased the number of white blood cells, which people need to help resist disease. Patients suffering from gout, rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, arteriosclerosis, anemia, cystitis, eczema, acne, psoriasis, herpes, lupus, sciatica, kidney problems, asthma, and even burns, have all received great benefits from the healing rays of the sun.

The medical doctor and author, Dr. Auguste Rollier, was the most famous heliotherapist of his day. At his peak, he operated 36 clinics with over 1,000 beds in Leysin, Switzerland. His clinics were situated 5,000 feet above sea level, the high altitude allowing his patients to catch a lot more UV light than was possible at the lower levels of the atmosphere. Dr. Rollier used the UV rays of sunlight to treat diseases such as tuberculosis (TB), rickets, smallpox, lupus vulgaris (skin tuberculosis), and wounds. He followed in the footsteps of Danish physician Dr. Niels Finsen, who won a Nobel Prize in 1903 for his treatment of TB using ultraviolet light. Rollier found that sunbathing early in the morning, in conjunction with a nutritious diet, produced the best effects.

The miraculous complete cures of tuberculosis and other diseases facilitated by these doctors made headlines at the time. What surprised the medical community most was the fact that the sun’s healing rays remained ineffective if the patients wore sunglasses. [Sunglasses block out important rays of the light spectrum which the body requires for essential biological functions.] Note: your eyes receive these rays even if you are in the shade.

By the year 1933, there were over 165 different diseases for which sunlight proved to be a beneficial treatment. However, with the death of Rollier in 1954 and the growing power of the pharmaceutical industry, heliotherapy fell into disuse.

By the 1960s, man-made “miracle drugs” had replaced medicine’s fascination with the sun’s healing powers, and by the 1980s the public was increasingly being bombarded with warnings about sunbathing and the risks of skin cancer.

Today, the sun is considered the main culprit for causing skin cancer, certain cataracts leading to blindness, and aging of the skin. Only those who take the “risk” of exposing themselves to sunlight find that the sun makes them feel better, provided they don’t use sunscreens or burn their skin.

The UV-rays in sunlight actually stimulate the thyroid gland to increase hormone production, which in turn increases the body’s basal metabolic rate. This assists both in weight loss and improved muscle development. Farm animals fatten much faster when kept indoors, and so do people who stay out of the sun.

Therefore, if you want to lose weight or increase your muscle tone, expose your body to the sun on a regular basis.

The use of antibiotics, which has practically replaced heliotherapy, has in recent years led to the development of drug-resistant strains of bacteria, which defy any treatment other than the balanced use of sun, water, air, and food. Cutting out or substantially reducing any of these four essential constituents of life, results in disease.

Any person who misses out on sunlight becomes weak and suffers mental and physical problems as a result. His vital energy diminishes in due time, which is reflected in his quality of life. The populations in Northern European countries like Norway and Finland, which experience months of darkness every year, have a higher incidence of irritability, fatigue, illness, insomnia, depression, alcoholism, and suicide than those living in the sunny parts of the world. Their skin cancer rates are higher, too. For example, the incidence of melanoma (skin cancer) on the Orkney and Shetland Isles, north of Scotland, is 10 times that of Mediterranean islands.

UV light is known to activate an important skin hormone called solitrol. Solitrol influences our immune system and many of our body’s regulatory centers, and, in conjunction with the pineal hormone melatonin, causes changes in mood and daily biological rhythms. The hemoglobin in our red blood cells requires ultraviolet (UV) light to bind to the oxygen needed for all cellular functions. Lack of sunlight can, therefore, be held co-responsible for almost any kind of illness, including skin cancer and other forms of cancer. As you are about to find out, it may be highly detrimental to your health to miss out on sunlight.

Can UV-Radiation Prevent and Cure Skin Cancer?

A major concern of our scientists today is the dramatic increase of skin cancers around the world. There are three main types of skin cancer, two of which, basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma (non-melanomas), are increasingly prevalent, whereas the third, malignant melanoma, is much rarer but far more lethal. The most pressing question is why would the sun suddenly become so vicious and try to kill scores of people after thousands of years of harmlessness?

The medical community claims that ultraviolet light (UV) is the major cause of skin cancers. This theory is based on the assumption that our thinning ozone layer permits too much of the germicidal UV to penetrate to the surface of the earth and causes destruction of all kinds, including damage to our skin and eye cells. Yet the theory has major flaws and no scientific backing. Contrary to general belief, there is no evidence that reduction in the ozone layer, observed at the poles, has caused any increase in melanomas.

The germicidal frequency of UV is destroyed or is filtered out by the ozone layer in the Earth’s stratosphere, and only small amounts—necessary to purify the air we breathe and the water we drink— actually reach the surface of the earth. To that effect, a study of Punta Arenas, the largest South American city close to the Antarctic ozone hole, showed no increase in health problems related to depleted ozone.

In fact, UV measures were too small to have any noticeable effect. Actual measurements taken in the United States since 1974 show that the amount of UV radiation reaching the surface of the earth is decreasing and continues to decrease slightly each year. This research was conducted to detect the frequency of UV radiation that causes sunburn. UV radiation had dropped an average of 0.7 percent per year over the period from 1974 to 1985 and continued to do so afterwards.

The fact that the number of skin cancers in the United States had doubled within this period of 11 years contradicts the theory that UV light is the reason behind the skin cancer epidemic. The number of malignant skin cancers (melanomas) discovered in 1980 in the United States was 8,000, and eight years later it had increased by 350 percent to 28,000. In 1930, the expectancy of developing melanoma was as low as 1 in 1,300 people. Since 2003, 45,000 to 50,000 new cases are diagnosed every year in the United States. Melanomas, which account for 75 percent of all skin cancer deaths, make up only 5 percent of all reported skin cancers. The most striking fact about this lethal form of cancer is that it can occur in parts of the body that are not necessarily exposed to the sun such as the eye, the rectum, vulva, vagina, mouth, respiratory tract, GI tract and urinary bladder.

Overall, since the beginning of the new millennium, each year one million Americans are being diagnosed with some form of skin cancer. There are millions of sufferers now, all of whom have been made to believe that the sun is the culprit for their skin diseases. But since UV radiation is decreasing every year and skin cancers were extremely rare 100 years ago when UV intensity was much higher and people spent much more time outdoors, what other factor could be held responsible for causing skin cancer?

The More UV, the Less Cancer

Even if UV penetration to the surface of the Earth did actually increase by, for example, one percent each year (which is not the case), such slight increases would still be hundreds, if not thousands, of times less than the normal variations which people experience because of differences in geography.

Let’s assume that you move from an area near either one of the Polar Regions, e.g. Iceland or Finland, toward the equator, e.g. Kenya or Uganda in East Africa. By the time you reach the equator, you will have increased your body’s exposure to UV light by a whooping 5,000 percent! If you live in England and decide to move to Northern Australia you will increase your exposure by 600 percent! Calculations show that for every six miles you move closer to the equator, you increase your exposure to UV light by one percent.

Today, millions of people around the world travel from low exposure places to areas of high exposure near the equator. Many thousands of tourists travel to areas that are located at much higher altitudes than where they normally live. For every 100 feet of elevation there is a significant increase in UV radiation. But this does not prevent people from climbing mountains or living in countries like Switzerland or at the high altitudes of the Himalayan Mountains.

According to the UV/cancer theory, most Kenyan, Tibetan, or Swiss residents should be afflicted with skin cancer today. Yet this is not the case at all. The fact is that those who reside at high altitudes or near the equator where UV radiation is the most concentrated are virtually free of all cancers, not just skin cancers! This shows that UV radiation does not cause cancer; in fact, it can even prevent it.

The human body has a unique ability to become accustomed to all kinds of variations in the environment. It is equipped with perfect self-regulating mechanisms that protect it against damage from the natural elements.

Overexposure to swimming in the sea or in a lake can lead to extensive skin swelling, shivering, and circulatory problems. Our body will let us know when it is time to get out of the water. Getting too close to a fire will heat us up and encourage us to move away from it. Rainwater is natural, but standing in the rain for too long can drain our immune system and make us susceptible to catching a cold. Eating sustains our lives, but overeating can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Sleeping recharges our “batteries” and revitalizes the body and mind, yet too much of it makes us sluggish, depressed, and ill. Likewise, sunlight has healing properties unless we use it to burn holes into our skin. Why should any of these natural elements or processes cause us harm unless we abuse or overuse them?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to say that a preference for unnatural things like junk food, stimulants, alcohol, drugs, medical intervention (unless it is for an emergency), as well as pollution, irregular sleeping and eating habits, stress, excessive greed for money and power, and the lack of contact with nature, are more likely to cause such diseases as skin cancer and cataracts than natural phenomena that have ensured continued growth and evolution on the planet throughout the ages?

It is very encouraging to see that new treatments using light are increasingly being recognized as breakthrough methods for cancer and many other diseases. The US Food and Drug Administration recently approved “light therapy” to fight advanced esophageal cancer and early lung cancer—with fewer risks than are found with the use of surgery and chemotherapy.

Although it has been known for over 100 years that light can kill diseased cells, it is only since a number of convincing research studies have been conducted that there has been a sudden resurgence of interest in light therapy. There is promising success with bladder cancer, infertility-causing endometriosis, advanced lung and esophageal cancers, skin cancer, and diseases leading to blindness, psoriasis, and autoimmune disorders. In one study, light therapy eliminated 79 percent of early lung cancers. Regular exposure to sunlight still seems to be one of the best measures one can take to prevent cancer, including cancers of the skin.

Now Even Doctors And Scientists Say, “It’s Not True!”

Like myself, there have always been some health practitioners who didn’t buy into the theory that the sun causes deadly diseases. It warms my heart to hear that now even some of the top authorities in the field are standing up for the truth, despite intense criticism from their colleagues.

In an article written in the New York Times in August 2004, a high-profile dermatologist, Dr. Bernard Ackerman (a recent winner of the American Academy of Dermatology's prestigious, once-yearly Master Award), publicly questioned the commonly accepted assumption about the sunlight/melanoma link.

According to Dr. Ackerman, who in 1999 founded the world's largest center for dermatopathology training, there is no proof whatsoever that sun exposure causes melanoma. To substantiate his arguments, he cites a recently published article in the Archives of Dermatology concluding that no evidence exists supporting the notion that sunscreen prevents melanoma, a claim the mega-million dollar sunscreen industry and those in the medical mainstream have falsely made for decades.

Dr. Ackerman didn’t stop at exposing this decades-long deception of the masses; he also cast doubt on the increase in the incidence of melanoma cases medical mainstream doctors insist is happening. He found that an expansion of the diagnostic definition of “melanoma” has allowed a much broader array of symptoms to be classified as the deadly disease compared to just 30 years ago. Melanoma has to a large extent “grown” to epidemic proportions because of statistical manipulations. In other words, if the same diagnostic definition applied 30 years ago were applied today, melanomas would have increased only insignificantly.

Furthermore, this respected physician challenged the medical mainstream to explain why nearly all cases of melanoma among certain races (black African, Asian and South American) occur in areas of the body that are almost never exposed to sunlight—places like the palms, soles of the feet, and mucous membranes. Should it not raise doubts among physicians and patients alike when even among pale-faces, the most common sites for melanoma (legs in women, torso in men) get significantly less sunlight exposure than other parts of the body?

To make a point, based on this and other evidence, your best chance of avoiding melanoma is to move to areas of higher UV-concentration, such as mountainous regions or the equatorial tropics and become a nudist! Since sunlight boosts the immune system, you may find that such a move would also help with many other health issues from which you may be suffering. Naturally, all this data raises the question, what actually causes skin cancer? The answer may surprise you greatly. source

Another favorite subject-monogamy. Those of you that know me in person/or in forums :)/ know that I'm in serious relationship and thus quite monogamous. But you also probably know that I am monogamous solely out of respect to my partner, not because I really am. Below my comment, you can find a curious article on monogamy in nature or rather of the lack of monogamy.


Why I post it? Well, I'm sometimes sick of some statements I hear that are accepted for norm, but nobody really questioned them. Like "people are born evil and they need religion to make them good" or "family is a basic need of the society and without it the society will disappear" or "we can't have meaningful relationships if we're not monogamous". While I haven't checked the last one, because the only person I love really wants me to sleep only with him, I have my doubts. I doubt people are born evil-rather, they are born capable of doing good and doing bad, I doubt family is a building block of our society-yes, it has its benefits, but I don't see how it's unnecessary in current situation-it was more required by the society than really needed by it. And I doubt monogamy proves love. It proves respect for the feelings of your partner, it proves responsibility towards the other person's health. But else? I don't think so.

Our heart is infinitely big. We can have the whole world in it. We can love our husband/wife, all the ex that dumped us or that for example died, our pets, our children, no matter how much they are, our parents, our country, our job, our hobbies... Someone could say it's a different love. It is not. Love is love. Love is devotion and self-denial for somebody else's sake. It's self-love for the sake of someone's else. It's many things. But it's not different. Yes, with some of those we have sex, with some not, but sex is not love. Sex is sex-mutual pleasure which could lead to children. It's an experience that we share with someone. Sex can have constructive or destructive power. Sex is just a tool. And thus, I don't see how having sex with someone else bears all that intrinsic meaning we tend to put in it. The problem is that we're all so insecure, we think sex can take our love away. It cannot. But the love can't be forced to stay-sex or not, she'll stay or leave the way she sees fit.

And same goes for loving other person. I am in love with at least 2 other people currently. No we haven't had sex, not even kissed, not even touched, but I am in love with them (and yeah, they know about it, just we all have our reasons to keep it non-sexual). It's bigger than me. It doesn't require me to do stuff. It's just something I am. And it doesn't hurt my feelings for my dear boyfriend. I love him as much as I can. I know he's my soul mate. That's enough.

So, obviously we can love many people in the same time. Meaning not just me, but we really do love more than one person as my list above stated. So...ok, to the article. Check how this is done in Nature /and mind you, the jealousy part is an animal thing, ok?/

Cuz I know people feel very strongly about this, especially female people. But our society changes, no matter how we want to keep it static. So, better ask yourself the important questions and figure out your real desires and motives. This way at least, you'll know what you want and you'll be able to get it. One way or another.

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Sexual promiscuity is rampant throughout nature, and true faithfulness a fond fantasy. Oh, there are plenty of animals in which males and females team up to raise young, as we do, that form “pair bonds” of impressive endurance and apparent mutual affection, spending hours reaffirming their partnership by snuggling together like prairie voles or singing hooty, doo-wop love songs like gibbons, or dancing goofily like blue-footed boobies.

Yet as biologists have discovered through the application of DNA paternity tests to the offspring of these bonded pairs, social monogamy is very rarely accompanied by sexual, or genetic, monogamy. Assay the kids in a given brood, whether of birds, voles, lesser apes, foxes or any other pair-bonding species, and anywhere from 10 to 70 percent will prove to have been sired by somebody other than the resident male.

As David P. Barash, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington in Seattle, put it with Cole Porter flair: Infants have their infancy; adults, adultery. Dr. Barash, who wrote “The Myth of Monogamy” with his psychiatrist-wife, Judith Eve Lipton, cited a scene from the movie “Heartburn” in which a Nora Ephronesque character complains to her father about her husband’s philanderings and the father quips that if she’d wanted fidelity, she should have married a swan. Fat lot of good that would have done her, Dr. Barash said: we now know that swans can cheat, too. Instead, the heroine might have considered union with Diplozoon paradoxum, a flatworm that lives in gills of freshwater fish. “Males and females meet each other as adolescents, and their bodies literally fuse together, whereupon they remain faithful until death,” Dr. Barash said. “That’s the only species I know of in which there seems to be 100 percent monogamy.” And where the only hearts burned belong to the unlucky host fish.

Nonhuman beings have been shown to pay for sex, too. Reporting in the journal Animal Behaviour, researchers from Adam Mickiewicz University and the University of South Bohemia described transactions among great grey shrikes, elegant raptorlike birds with silver capes, white bellies and black tails that, like 90 percent of bird species, form pair bonds to breed. A male shrike provisions his mate with so-called nuptial gifts: rodents, lizards, small birds or large insects that he impales on sticks. But when the male shrike hankers after extracurricular sex, he will offer a would-be mistress an even bigger kebab than the ones he gives to his wife — for the richer the offering, the researchers found, the greater the chance that the female will agree to a fly-by-night fling.

In another recent report from the lubricious annals of Animal Behaviour entitled “Payment for sex in a macaque mating market,” Michael D. Gumert of Hiram College described his two-year study of a group of longtailed macaques that live near the Rimba ecotourist lodge in the Tanjung Puting National Park of Indonesia. Dr. Gumert determined that male macaques pay for sex with that all-important, multipurpose primate currency, grooming. He saw that, whereas females groomed males and other females for social and political reasons — to affirm a friendship or make nice to a dominant — and mothers groomed their young to soothe and clean them, when an adult male spent time picking parasites from an adult female’s hide, he expected compensation in the form of copulation, or at the very least a close genital inspection. About 89 percent of the male-grooming-female episodes observed, Dr. Gumert said in an interview from Singapore, where he is on the faculty of Nanyang Technological University, “were directed toward sexually active females” with whom the males had a chance of mating.

Significantly, males adjust their grooming behavior in a distinctly economic fashion, paying a higher or lower price depending on the availability and quality of the merchandise and competition from other buyers. “What led me to think of grooming as a form of payment was seeing how it changed across different market conditions,” Dr. Gumert said. “When there were fewer females around, the male would groom longer, and when there were lots of females, the grooming times went down.” Males also groomed females of high rank considerably longer than they did low-status females with nary a diamond to their page.

Commonplace though adultery may be, and as avidly as animals engage in it when given the opportunity, nobody seems to approve of it in others, and humans are hardly the only species that will rise up in outrage against wantonness real or perceived. Most female baboons have lost half an ear here, a swatch of pelt there, to the jealous fury of their much larger and toothier mates. Among scarab beetles, males and females generally pair up to start a family, jointly gathering dung and rolling and patting it into the rich brood balls in which the female deposits her fertilized eggs. The male may on occasion try to attract an extra female or two — but he does so at his peril. In one experiment with postmatrimonial scarabs, the female beetle was kept tethered in the vicinity of her mate, who quickly seized the opportunity to pheromonally broadcast for fresh faces. Upon being released from bondage, the female dashed over and knocked the male flat on his back. “She’d roll him right into the ball of dung,” Dr. Barash said, “which seemed altogether appropriate.”

In the case of the territorial red-backed salamander, males and females alike are inclined to zealous partner policing and will punish partners they believe to have strayed: with threat displays, mouth nips and throat bites, and most coldblooded of all, a withdrawal of affection, a refusal to engage. Be warned, you big lounge lizard: it could happen to you.
source

A health-care or health joke?

You know how often I speak of health care in USA. The main reason is because USA is a very big player as we all know and when you're the best you're expected to be the best in everything. To be leading at least. So, today I'm offering you few articles on the issue. First one is on happiness in USA, second- of the life expectancy in USA, third -on vaccinations-necessary or not. My over-all commentary is that for me, there definitely is a health conspiracy in USA. If you're going to ridicule me-please at least read the whole post. If you have the best health care system and a low life expectancy that means to me something is definitely wrong. And one possibility is this "conspiracy"-we want to sell you medicines, but we don't want you to retire so we make sure those medicines will kill you in the right time. It's not provable and it's way too general, but is it possible? Now, let's get to the facts.

First of all, we have a happiness map which show the USA is not on the leading positions in happiness according to its residents. Which is weird. The land of the infinite opportunity doesn't give its citizens the feeling we all outside it have when we think of it-a country of peace, comfort and security and of course of decent life. Why? I can't say why, but I recently read a survey in NY Times that was called "A Psychiatrist for everyone"/or something like that/ and showed an experimental project in hospital providing a free consultations for everyone. It turned out that people were in desperate need for someone to listen to them.

The projection, which is to be published in a psychology journal this September, will be presented at a conference later in the year. Participants in the various studies were asked questions related to happiness and satisfaction with life. The meta-analysis is based on the findings of over 100 different studies around the world, which questioned 80,000 people worldwide. For this study data has also been analysed in relation to health, wealth and access to education.

"Further analysis showed that a nation's level of happiness was most closely associated with health levels (correlation of .62), followed by wealth (.52), and then provision of education (.51).

"The three predictor variables of health, wealth and education were also very closely associated with
each other, illustrating the interdependence of these factors.

1 - Denmark;2 - Switzerland;3 - Austria;4 - Iceland;5 - The Bahamas;6 - Finland;7 - Sweden;8 - Bhutan;9 - Brunei;10 - Canada;11 - Ireland;12 - Luxembourg;13 - Costa Rica;14 - Malta;15 - The Netherlands;16 - Antigua and Barbuda;17 - Malaysia;18 - New Zealand;19 - Norway;20 - The Seychelles;23 - USA


Here's the happiness map and the link to the original article.

source


The next article is even more enlightening. It's written by a cardiologist and I encourage you to check the source at the bottom. Now, I put in bold the places I find particular interest in. What was really shocking was that USA is on 45-th place on life expectancy! After Bosnia? That's bad. With such a well-developed health-care base /not system, just the base-hospitals, research centers, tools- wich is awesome and I'm not sure if the average american has an idea how awesome it really is in comparison with say, Bulgarian medical base/ I mean, you can get shot in the heart and be saved if we believe in movies! Here, you'll die waiting for the ambulance. And still, the life expectancy is so LOW! Oook, then, what's the conclusion? I'm not sure how unnecessary are all the tests that the article describes-i have a problem getting any test done here. But there should be a limit which obviously lacks in US system. The well-being of the patient is obviously in the wrong place. And before all, doctors should be judged by the improvement of your condition they provoke, not by the number of tests they need to make a diagnosis. Even on the contrary- the less tests leading to a correct diagnosis-the better. At least for me. Please read the article, it's really interesting!

Many Doctors, Many Tests, No Rhyme or Reason

Published: March 11, 2008

I recently took care of a 50-year-old man who had been admitted to the hospital short of breath. During his monthlong stay he was seen by a hematologist, an endocrinologist, a kidney specialist, a podiatrist, two cardiologists, a cardiac electrophysiologist, an infectious-diseases specialist, a pulmonologist, an ear-nose-throat specialist, a urologist, a gastroenterologist, a neurologist, a nutritionist, a general surgeon, a thoracic surgeon and a pain specialist.

He underwent 12 procedures, including cardiac catheterization, a pacemaker implant and a bone-marrow biopsy (to work-up chronic anemia).

Despite this wearying schedule, he maintained an upbeat manner, walking the corridors daily with assistance to chat with nurses and physician assistants. When he was discharged, follow-up visits were scheduled for him with seven specialists.

This man’s case, in which expert consultations sprouted with little rhyme, reason or coordination, reinforced a lesson I have learned many times since entering practice: In our health care system, where doctors are paid piecework for their services, if you have a slew of physicians and a willing patient, almost any sort of terrible excess can occur.

Though accurate data is lacking, the overuse of services in health care probably cost hundreds of billions of dollars last year, out of the more than $2 trillion that Americans spent on health.

Are we getting our money’s worth? Not according to the usual measures of public health. The United States ranks 45th in life expectancy, behind Bosnia and Jordan; near last, compared with other developed countries, in infant mortality; and in last place, according to the Commonwealth Fund, a health-care research group, among major industrialized countries in health-care quality, access and efficiency.

And in the United States, regions that spend the most on health care appear to have higher mortality rates than regions that spend the least, perhaps because of increased hospitalization rates that result in more life-threatening errors and infections. It has been estimated that if the entire country spent the same as the lowest spending regions, the Medicare program alone could save about $40 billion a year.

Overconsultation and overtesting have now become facts of the medical profession.

Consider medical imaging. According to a federal commission, from 1999 to 2004 the growth in the volume of imaging services per Medicare patient far outstripped the growth of all other physician services. In 2004, the cost of imaging services was close to $100 billion, or an average of roughly $350 per person in the United States.

Not long ago, I visited a friend — a cardiologist in his late 30s — at his office on Long Island to ask him about imaging in private practices.

“When I started in practice, I wanted to do the right thing,” he told me matter-of-factly. “A young woman would come in with palpitations. I’d tell her she was fine. But then I realized that she’d just go down the street to another physician and he’d order all the tests anyway: echocardiogram, stress test, Holter monitor — stuff she didn’t really need. Then she’d go around and tell her friends what a great doctor — a thorough doctor — the other cardiologist was.

“I tried to practice ethical medicine, but it didn’t help. It didn’t pay, both from a financial and a reputation standpoint.”

Last year, Congress approved steep reductions in Medicare payments for certain imaging services. Deeper cuts will almost certainly be forthcoming. This is good; unnecessary imaging is almost certainly taking place, leading to false-positive results, unnecessary invasive procedures, more complications and so on.

But the problem in medicine today is much larger than imaging. Doctors are doing too much testing and too many procedures, often for the sake of business. And patients, unfortunately, are paying the price.

The hospital is a great place to be when you are sick,” a hospital executive told me recently. “But I don’t want my mother in here five minutes longer than she needs to be.” source


Now we're getting to the vaccination stuff. I find that rather interesting. So first we have an article on parents denying to have their kids vaccinated for measles and the response of doctors on that. I'm not going to comment thoroughly, what I want to say is that I'm not vaccinated for measles or any of the other stuff. My mother got measles few years ago, it was very annoying cuz she couldn't get out and she was afraid I might get it too, happily and somewhat surprisingly I didn't, but the point is other. It wasn't dangerous. It was just like any other illness-not very comfortable.

So I think it's a big exaggeration to claim that this is VERY dangerous disease that's killing thousands of people. Yes, it is dangerous, people are dying but mostly because they don't have adequate health care. Of course, complications do occur, but I didn't see a statistics of those complications in developed countries. I know that in Bulgaria kids get all kind of infectious diseases-rubella, measles and stuff like that in the kinder garden and they're fine. It's annoying for the parents but it's not dramatic. I'm not saying those vaccination shouldn't be done at all. Just that people have the right to choose and if they decide so, that's their choice! And I have one question-how a inoculated person get measles? And if he does, why does he need a vaccination at all. For comparison, someone that got the natural immunity is not going to get ill at all.

Now the article:

Public Health Risk Seen as Parents Reject Vaccines

By JENNIFER STEINHAUER
Published: March 21, 2008

SAN DIEGO — In a highly unusual outbreak of measles here last month, 12 children fell ill; nine of them had not been inoculated against the virus because their parents objected, and the other three were too young to receive vaccines.

The parents who objected to their children being inoculated are among a small but growing number of vaccine skeptics in California and other states who take advantage of exemptions to laws requiring vaccinations for school-age children.

The exemptions have been growing since the early 1990s at a rate that many epidemiologists, public health officials and physicians find disturbing.

Children who are not vaccinated are unnecessarily susceptible to serious illnesses, they say, but also present a danger to children who have had their shots — the measles vaccine, for instance, is only 95 percent effective — and to those children too young to receive certain vaccines.

Measles, almost wholly eradicated in the United States through vaccines, can cause pneumonia and brain swelling, which in rare cases can lead to death. The measles outbreak here alarmed public health officials, sickened babies and sent one child to the hospital.

Every state allows medical exemptions, and most permit exemptions based on religious practices. But an increasing number of the vaccine skeptics belong to a different group — those who object to the inoculations because of their personal beliefs, often related to an unproven notion that vaccines are linked to autism and other disorders.

Twenty states, including California, Ohio and Texas, allow some kind of personal exemption, according to a tally by the Johns Hopkins University.

“I refuse to sacrifice my children for the greater good,” said Sybil Carlson, whose 6-year-old son goes to school with several of the children hit by the measles outbreak here. The boy is immunized against some diseases but not measles, Ms. Carlson said, while his 3-year-old brother has had just one shot, protecting him against meningitis.

“When I began to read about vaccines and how they work,” she said, “I saw medical studies, not given to use by the mainstream media, connecting them with neurological disorders, asthma and immunology.”

In 1991, less than 1 percent of children in the states with personal-belief exemptions went without vaccines based on the exemption; by 2004, the most recent year for which data are available, the percentage had increased to 2.54 percent, said Saad B. Omer, an assistant scientist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

While nationwide over 90 percent of children old enough to receive vaccines get them, the number of exemptions worries many health officials and experts. They say that vaccines have saved countless lives, and that personal-belief exemptions are potentially dangerous and bad public policy because they are not based on sound science.

“If you have clusters of exemptions, you increase the risk of exposing everyone in the community,” said Dr. Omer, who has extensively studied disease outbreaks and vaccines.

It is the absence, or close to it, of some illnesses in the United States that keep some parents from opting for the shots. Worldwide, 242,000 children a year die from measles, but it used to be near one million. The deaths have dropped because of vaccination, a 68 percent decrease from 2000 to 2006.

Dr. Sawyer and the vast majority of pediatricians believe strongly that vaccinations are the cornerstone of sound public health. Many doctors view the so-called exempters as parasites, of a sort, benefiting from the otherwise inoculated majority.

Most children get immunized to measles from a combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, a live virus.

While the picture of an unvaccinated child was once that of the offspring of poor and uneducated parents, “exempters” are often well educated and financially stable, and hold a host of like-minded child-rearing beliefs.

Vaccine skeptics provide differing explanations for their belief that vaccines may cause various illnesses and disorders, including autism.

Recent news that a federal vaccine court agreed to pay the family of an autistic child in Georgia who had an underlying mitochondrial disorder has led some skeptics to speculate that vaccines may worsen such conditions. Again, researchers say there is no evidence to support this thesis.

While many parents meet deep resistance and even hostility from pediatricians when they choose to delay, space or reject vaccines, they are often able to find doctors who support their choice.

“I do think vaccines help with the public health and helping prevent the occasional fatality,” said Dr. Bob Sears, the son of the well-known child-care author by the same name, who practices pediatrics in San Clemente. Roughly 20 percent of his patients do not vaccinate, Dr. Sears said, and another 20 percent partially vaccinate.

Some parents of unvaccinated children go to great lengths to expose their children to childhood diseases to help them build natural immunities.

In the wake of last month’s outbreak, Linda Palmer considered sending her son to a measles party to contract the virus. Several years ago, the boy, now 12, contracted chicken pox when Ms. Palmer had him attend a gathering of children with that virus.

She ultimately decided against the measles party for fear of having her son ostracized if he became ill.

While the laws vary from state to state, most allow children to attend school if their parents agree to keep them home during any outbreak of illnesses prevented by vaccines. The easier it is to get an exemption — some states require barely any paperwork — the more people opt for them, according to Dr. Omer’s research, supported by other vaccine experts.

There is substantial evidence that communities with pools of unvaccinated clusters risk infecting a broad community that includes people who have been inoculated.

For instance, in a 2006 mumps outbreak in Iowa that infected 219 people, the majority of those sickened had been vaccinated. In a 2005 measles outbreak in Indiana, there were 34 cases, including six people who had been vaccinated.source

Recently, I found this article, that could expand your horizon on vaccines. It's from New Scientist. Check here.

More on the subject of medicines and FDA, another weird move questions the sanity of the agency. In the article below-how a medicine can be approved for wild use, even though it doesn't prolong life or improve its quality. My comment, as usually, at the bottom.

F.D.A. Extends Avastin’s Use to Breast Cancer

February 23, 2008

The Food and Drug Administration approved Genentech’s best-selling drug, Avastin, as a treatment for breast cancer, in a decision that appeared to lower the threshold somewhat for approval of certain cancer drugs.

The decision late Friday surprised many analysts and investors, because an F.D.A. advisory committee had voted against approval in December, although by a 5-4 margin.

The approval could add hundreds of millions of dollars in annual sales to Avastin, which had previously been approved for colorectal cancer and lung cancer and had sales last year of $2.3 billion in the United States. Roche, which owns a majority stake in Genentech, sells it overseas.

Genentech’s stock, which has been generally declining over the last two years as the company’s growth has slowed, rose more than 8 percent in after-hours trading to $77.45. The decision been closely watched as a harbinger of the F.D.A.’s requirements for cancer drugs.

The big question was whether it was enough for a drug temporarily to stop cancer from worsening — as Avastin had done in a clinical trial — or was it necessary for a drug to enable patients to live longer, which Avastin had failed to do. Oncologists and patient advocates were divided, in part because of the drug’s sometimes severe side effects.

In the end, the agency found a compromise of sorts. It gave Avastin “accelerated” approval, which allows drugs for life-threatening diseases to reach the market on the basis of less than ideal data, subject to further study.

“We wanted to have the regulatory flexibility to approve effective drugs where there isn’t overall survival,” said Dr. Richard Pazdur, who oversees cancer drugs at the F.D.A. He said the agency had sympathy for the view that delaying the progression of life-threatening disease “may be a direct clinical benefit in itself.”

Dr. Pazdur insisted the decision did not represent a change in the F.D.A.’s policies. He said the agency had approved other cancer drugs based on their ability to delay the worsening of cancer, a measure called progression-free survival, but that the F.D.A. still favored overall survival as the standard.

Avastin, also known as bevacizumab, was already being used fairly widely off label to treat breast cancer. But the approval, which now allows the company to market it specifically for metastatic breast cancer, will very likely increase use and make more insurance companies willing to cover it. Had the F.D.A. ruled against the drug, it might have curtailed insurance coverage and off-label use of Avastin for breast cancer.

The approval also means that breast cancer patients with incomes below about $100,000 a year will be eligible for a program in which Genentech caps payments at $55,000 a year for patients and their insurers.

The company’s payment program, which applies only to approved used of Avastin, was announced in 2006 as Genentech was facing criticism about the drug’s price. As a breast cancer treatment, Avastin costs about $7,700 a month, or $92,000 a year.

In the clinical trial on which the approval was based, women who received Avastin in combination with the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel went a median of 11.3 months before their cancer worsened or they died, in contrast to the 5.8 months for women getting paclitaxel, also known as Taxol, alone.

But the women in the Avastin group lived a median of 26.5 months, compared with 24.8 months for those getting paclitaxel alone — life extension that was not statistically significant.

Moreover, the women receiving Avastin suffered more side effects. And 5 or 6 of them out of 363 died from the drug itself.

Genentech and Roche have begun other trials that could be used to turn the accelerated approval into a full approval. The companies said last week that one such trial had confirmed that the drug delayed the worsening of cancer but it was too soon to show if it lengthened lives.

If Avastin does not show a benefit in the newer trials, the F.D.A. could remove the approval for breast cancer. The agency in 2005 curtailed use of AstraZeneca’s lung cancer drug, Iressa, when trials showed it did not prolong survival. Iressa had been given accelerated approval based on its ability to shrink tumors. source

My comment: Correct me if I'm wrong, but what's the point of taking a medicine if it doesn't prolong your life and/or improve its quality??? No, I really fail to understand the logic. Not to mention the part that people actually DIED from the medicine itself! I really get the feeling in USA there is a conspiracy against human life. Or at least, against people that get ill. Is this a new way to clean the nation from the ill? Because it does look like that. Or, as the first part states, the company just needed a financial boost and FDA were quick to help. Whatever fits you best.

By Making Holocaust Personal to Pupils, Sarkozy Stirs Anger

February 16, 2008

PARIS — President Nicolas Sarkozy dropped an intellectual bombshell this week, surprising the nation and touching off waves of protest with his revision of the school curriculum: beginning next fall, he said, every fifth grader will have to learn the life story of one of the 11,000 French children killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust.

“Nothing is more moving, for a child, than the story of a child his own age, who has the same games, the same joys and the same hopes as he, but who, in the dawn of the 1940s, had the bad fortune to be defined as a Jew,” Mr. Sarkozy said at the end of a dinner speech to France’s Jewish community on Wednesday night. He added that every French child should be “entrusted with the memory of a French child-victim of the Holocaust.”

Adding to the national fracas over the announcement, Mr. Sarkozy wrapped his plan in the cloak of religion, placing blame for the wars and violence of the last century on an “absence of God” and calling the Nazi belief in a hierarchy of races “radically incompatible with Judeo-Christian monotheism.”

Education Minister Xavier Darcos explained later that the aim of the plan was to “create an identification between a child of today and one of the same age who was deported and gassed.”

The Holocaust is already taught in French schools, but some psychiatrists and educators predicted that requiring students to identify with a specific victim would traumatize them.

Secularists accused Mr. Sarkozy, who is already under fire for his frequent praise of God and religion, of subverting both the country’s iron-clad separation of church and state and the national ideal of a single, nonreligious identity for all.

Historians warned that the plan could backfire, creating resentment among France’s ethnic Arab and African populations if they felt their own histories were getting short shrift.

The initiative has also pitted some Jews against one another. “It is unimaginable, unbearable, tragic and above all, unjust,” Simone Veil, a Holocaust survivor and honorary president of the Foundation for the Memory of the Holocaust, told the Web site of the magazine L’Express. “You cannot inflict this on little ones of 10 years old! You cannot ask a child to identify with a dead child. The weight of this memory is much too heavy to bear.”

Ms. Veil was in the audience when Mr. Sarkozy spoke, and said that when she heard his words, “My blood turned to ice.”

But Serge Klarsfeld, a Jewish historian who has devoted his life to recording the list and biographies of France’s Holocaust victims, praised the president for his “courage.”

Mr. Klarsfeld likened the plan to a practice by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., which gives visitors small booklets describing the experiences of Holocaust victims and survivors.

On one level, Mr. Sarkozy’s plan is a logical extension of his sometimes sentimental and pedagogical approach to governing. Last year, he enraged politicians on the left, the biggest union for high school teachers and some historians and teachers when he ordered all high schools in France to read a handwritten letter of a 17-year-old student who was executed by the Nazis for his resistance activities.

On another level, it reflects his oft-stated declaration that as president, he is also a “friend” as he calls himself, of Israel. By extension, he is also a friend of France’s Jews. He is, for example, the first French president to address the annual dinner of France’s Jewish community.

But there is something else. Mr. Sarkozy is shattering another barrier in French intellectual life: religion. His public statements on the subject seem to reflect a deeply held belief that religious values have an important place in everyday French society — an iconoclastic position for a French politician.

When Mr. Sarkozy was made an Honorary Canon of the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome last December, he proposed a “positive secularism” that “does not consider religions a danger, but an asset.” He was even more provocative in declaring that “the schoolteacher will never be able to replace the priest or the pastor” in teaching the difference between good and evil.

In Saudi Arabia last month, he infused his speech with more than a dozen references to God, who, he said, “liberates” man. He also said last month that it was a mistake to delete the reference to “Europe’s Christian roots” from the European Constitution.

In France, a country where one’s religion is typically kept private, Mr. Sarkozy heralds his religious identity, referring publicly to his Jewish grandfather and wearing his Roman Catholicism on his sleeve.

Teachers defended the current approach to the Holocaust in French schools. Since 2002, fifth-graders have studied the Nazis’ systematic destruction of six million Jews as a crime against humanity.

Older children watch films on the Holocaust, visit Holocaust museums and memorials and take field trips to concentration camps. Schools where students were taken away for deportation hang plaques in their memory.

Other analysts blamed the confessional approach of the United States for infecting Mr. Sarkozy’s thinking. “Listen, it’s in the air of the times,” said Régis Debray, the philosopher and author, on France Inter radio Friday. “There is a religious sentimentality, a pretty vague religiousness, let’s say, in the world of show business, in the world of business, that comes from America. It’s the neoconservative wave of the born-agains.”

MRAP, an organization that campaigns against racism, accused Mr. Sarkozy of chauvinism by singling out French victims of the Holocaust for study and excluding other groups, like the Gypsies.

Mr. Sarkozy’s advisers acknowledged that he came up with his Holocaust plan for schoolchildren without any formal consultation. In the face of the criticism, however, Mr. Sarkozy vowed to proceed. source

My comment: I waited for a while before posting this. I didn't know what to do with it. I'm strongly opposed, though I hardly can prioritize the reasons why. The obvious one is that 10 years old kids really shouldn't endure this. Kids are very empathic and they will really embrace the life of that unfortunate jewish kid. And then, they'll have to know how it died. To go trough it. To live it. Yes, what's worst is that a kid had to die like this, but should we enforce to another, innocent kid to bear the guilt of his parents? Because that's what we're doing. It's good to know the past, so that we don't repeat it in the future, but there is difference between knowing and re-experiencing .

What I can't understand is why. Really. It's enough that students have to watch all those movies. Yes, WW2 was absurd. It was horror. But should we prevent another one by stamping the pain in young children's minds? And why only jews? As the article says, there were also Gypsies. Why not do something to prevent all racial discrimination.

Me too, I see way too much influence of USA in his public image. He divorce/marries to get the media attention, he talks nonsense, just like Bush, he abuse the name of God, sometimes he's acting like he even doesn't have advisers! Which I don't believe. Then this must be the idea of his PR. But what's the point, I don't know. Maybe someone decided if the president attract the attention with his tricks, the media won't see the big issue. And the big issue, I don't know what it is. I just think that requiring from a kid to identify with a dead kid is WRONG!


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