Blog Relocation
05/08/2009, 7:27 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The Extreme Self is now at True/Slant


Calling all men: You can be a skinny (cenegenics) bastard!
05/07/2009, 1:21 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

cenegenics-programWomen are already the victims of countless diet books and weight-loss scams, it seems only fitting that men start to bear more of the body image weight. Of course, guys have never been immune from society’s physical fixation: a recent national survey found that 44% of men were dissatisfied with their weight, though, unlike the ladies, the gents usually wanted to bulk up rather than downsize.

Maybe Cenegenics is their solution. The “proven age management system” operates out of Manhattan, though they have other locations and long-distance consultations for faraway fellas. At the Cenegenics clinic, clients have their own personal team – physician, nutritionist and exercise physiologist – and are subjected to a “whole body” evaluation and health plan.

A health plan that will probably involve a lot of steroids. Cenegenics openly prescribes human growth 41bagiwffklhormone, which boost biceps and, inconveniently enough, also trigger the growth of cancer cells. According to Dr. Shlomo Melmed, president of the International Society of Endocrinologists, prescribing human growth hormone to adults for any condition but AIDS-related wasting or rare pituitary disorders is “illegal, and inappropriate medically.”

For a less dangerous path to his physical peak, a man can now be a Skinny Bastard alongside his Skinny Bitch girlfriend. Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, the authors of the series of sassy vegan nutrition tomes for women, are now appealing to the other gender. The book, which kindly informs guys that “a hot-bodied man is a head-turner,” may be capitalizing on men’s insecurities – but at least it isn’t killing them.

“Old” news in depression

depressionFine wine, record players and Tom Brokaw. All wonderful old things! But older isn’t always better – except, sometimes, it is. At least, researchers think it is. That’s the take-home message from a round-up of new research into all-things depression this week.

A report on mental health trends in Health Affairs found that senior citizens are using psychiatric drugs twice as often as they were 10 years ago. Around 16 percent of Americans over 65 have been diagnosed with a mental illness and 15 percent overall are taking antidepressants or anti-psychotics. The report doesn’t suggest that older people are suffering from mental illness more often. Instead, researchers think that the elderly often went undiagnosed in years past.

At least they’ve got a slew of drug options, thanks to the meds that all those crazy kids in them laboratories have been coming up with! Dozens of anti-depressants are on the market, but a systematic review by The Cochrane Institute found that if it aint broke, you shouldn’t try to fix it: older medications were more effective than the new releases. Zoloft, which has been available for acute depression since 1991, was the best of 12 meds, based on data from 10,000 patients.

…That assumes those patients weren’t “cherry picked,” making their results inapplicable to the general population. That’s the claim of a report led by the University of Pittsburg Graduate School of Public Health, in the May issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry. According to their research, only 22% of patients taking a particular anti-depressant met critera to participate in phase III FDA approval trials. That raises concerns that traditional FDA efficacy studies may not be applicable to the general population of anti-depressant users.

Seniors are more depressed, new medication isn’t getting us anywhere and results from studies on anti-depressant medication is tainted? I feel a few grey hairs coming on…

Need a memory boost? Meditate…while eating macadamia nuts

mmw_meditation_091908_articleIf you love fatty food, maybe you should learn to focus really, really intensely on it. A new study suggests that a specific style of focused meditation can boost short-term memory, while separate research shows a link between dietary fats and long-term recollection.

First up, a new study by researchers at George Mason University found that “Deity Yoga” meditation could prompt improvements in visuospatial talents – the ability to retain images in visual memory. During DY meditation, practitioners image and focus on a detailed image, traditionally of a deity and the deity’s surrroundings.

This study compared three groups: DY meditators, OP meditators (who do not advocate visualization during meditation) and non-meditators. Participants first completed visualization tasks, meditators meditated for 20 minutes while non-meditators rested, and everyone then completed a second round of tasks. DY meditators scored significantly higher than both groups on the tasks performed after their meditation session.  Researchers think the finding “has many implications for therapy, treatment of memory loss, and mental training.”

Is Little Debbie a deity? If so, UC Irvine researchers might want to start a meditation group to further boost the recollection abilities they’ve tied to fatty foods. Previous studies have concluded that oleic acids from fats are transformed into a compound called OEA during digestion. Now, they’ve proven, using rodents, that OEA causes memory consolidation, the process whereby short-term memories become long-term ones. It’s likely that the process was an evolutionary tool, helping humans recall when and where they last found a high-fat food source. Today, such memory enhancement is a little problematic: OEA is likely responsible for those late-night cupcake cravings you can’t seem to shake…

So, until researchers come up with an OEA inhibitor of some sort, you’ll have to stop eating fatty foods to stop craving them. Maybe meditate on the Twinkie instead?

New York a hotbed of deathly “beauty” injections

botoxThe Big Apple is always ahead of the curve on all things beauty, so the rest of the western world best be wary of the latest trend to take our fine metropolis by storm. New York’s department of health is warning that unlicensed practitioners are injecting bizarre and unregulated substances as “cosmetic enhancements” for lips, breast and even butt boosting.

“People who undergo these unsafe procedures hope to enhance their appearance, but the reality can be lifelong deformity and even death,” said Doctor Nathan Graber, director of the city’s environmental and occupational disease program.

Among the substances being injected: silicone, petroleum jelly, castor oil and mineral oil.

And the side effects: serious infections, nerve damage, respiratory and kidney failure, irreversible disabilities, disfigurement and death.”

The popularity of illegal cosmetic injections is on the rise since the start of the recession: the New York poison control center has received three calls in the last 10 months from doctors who treated patients injected with cheap, industrial-grade silicon by unlicensed practitioners in a so-called “underground beauty industry.”

Gross? Sure. But not so off-putting when you consider some of the legal alternatives.

Has your medicine cabinet been FDA approved?
04/17/2009, 11:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

ogco_fda_1006Recent polls suggest that Americans are looking for alternatives to pricey doc visits and medical procedures as the recession takes its toll. From switching to generic prescriptions to trying natural supplements instead of medication altogether, we’re desperate to pop less expensive pills.

Aside from the obvious health hazards of cutting these corners, the new thrifty patient trend raises questions about the extent to which medical products, natural and non, are scrutinized and legislated. The FDA is by no means perfect (see here for their top screw-ups), but their approval is, at least, indication that what you’re taking has been tested by someone in a lab coat.

A round-up of what is – and isn’t – FDA approved:

Prescription meds: New drugs undergo an application process and testing, with FDA approval meaning that they’re “safe if used as directed.” Before a drug can become an over-the-counter offering, it needs to undergo another set of tests. The process isn’t quick, either: usually it takes 7 years from application to approval. But what the hell are they doing? A  2006 Institute of Medicine report found major shortcomings in the current FDA drug testing system. Examples of things you can do in 7 years: get a PhD, have 7 babies, digest a piece of gum. Approve a new cholesterol med? Eh, maybe.

Generics: Basically just a copy-cat of a drug whose patent has expired, a new generic undergoes tests to ensure that it is interchangeable with the name brand counterpart (which, we assume, underwent the scrupulous 7 year process discussed above). The drug need not have the same ingredients, it just has to do the same thing. In the 1980s, FDA officials were convicted of exchanging bribes for generic med approval…not good news for penny-pinchers out there.

renavive_fda_labCosmetics: Put down your lipstick. While cosmetics are under the jurisdiction of the FDA, the agency does very little safety testing unless the cosmetic is making some kind of health claim, which would classify it as a drug. The FDA doesn’t require the testing of cosmetics by companies, nor do they review ingredients or require product labeling. Maybe she’s born with it, but maybe it’s a rash from her blush…

Natural supplements: The FDA “oversees” $18 million worth of natural supplements each year, and sales of these products has grown steadily, and surged in the last few months. But buyer beware, because the supplements aren’t subject to the same safety tests as drugs, and have no approval requirements. Manufacturers can even make specific claims of health benefits on their labels, though they can’t claim to treat or cure an illness. The FDA is kind enough, though, to warn consumers when they might get cancer or drop dead from their supplements.

Marijuana: Nope. This one’s not FDA approved. According to their 2006 statement on thie matter, pot just didn’t pass those meticulous tests for safety and effectiveness. But I guess this one slipped by…

Got a face for radio? Transplant it.
04/16/2009, 1:44 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

251530030Well, not quite. But face transplants are becoming increasingly common – doctors in Boston recently performed the seventh such operation, and surgeons around the world predict many more to come.

But this isn’t your basic nosejob: the operation uses the face of a dead body, incuding nerves, bone, skin and cartilage, to repair the visages of seriously disfigured individuals – including war vets and victims of accidents. Last week’s patient had lived nearly his entire life with serious disfigurement after a freak childhood incident, and Isabelle Dinoire, the first face transplant recipient, had been mauled by a dog.

The surgeries are, obviously, risky, and require between 15 to 20 hours of operating time. Patients then go through months of rehabilitation and need to take medication for the rest of their lives. Doctors warn that the psychological and social implications can be even more severe than the physical: talking, eating and drinking are difficult, along with the challenge of, well, living with an entirely new face…