Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas?

The question pertains to the news of so much greed and so much deception in the world. Looking back, I cannot remember a time when it became so obvious that American culture has lost its way. Someone comes dressed as Santa Claus and spreads ill will. That is what our world has come to. Maybe things like this happened before. They probably did. We just didn't know about it.

What makes our lives so toxic that we can't expect goodness coming from our fellow man? Even our highest government figures have lost their way. When President Bush says he understands, it is obvious that he doesn't. He has no clue what it is like for a person not to know where the next meal is coming from. When the Vice President admits that he approved torture, it shows his blatant denial of civility.

But what's worse is the acquiescence of the population. How can we stand by and not object. They say it starts with me the citizen. But where can I get a handle when I have a hard time with the supposedly simple request of getting a written diagnosis for my son who cannot speak for himself? When those who cannot speak have lost the chance for help by those who can and who should help and who are willing, where can a person turn.

I am looking for answers, and even my best attempt falls on deaf ears. Can someone tell me where to go to get heard? Risk management is afraid when someone actually finds them. They are so afraid that they think they need to move because my husband has located their offices. That's a sad state of affairs. That means to me that they are not doing their job. That tells me that they usually do not help solve problems but only add. They are in an avoidance mode. Is that what this country has come to? Risk assessment? And if the risk is not great enough then it's only money. What a shame. Please, lets have good will! The German way of saying it would be: Friede auf Erden allen Menschen, die guten Willens sind! That means: Peace on Earth to All Men of Good Will. At least that's what the translation should be.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Brain enhancement for the mentally competent

I just read the Nature article Towards Responsible Use of Cognitive-Enhancing Drugs by the Healthy. What strikes me as a little strange is that someone who is responsible and clear-thinking would see the need for brain enhancement. It's a little bit like saying I am not sure whether I am able to think clearly. But, to be sure that I am in top form, I need to take a pill. The article assumes that someone who knows he needs brain-enhancement also knows he is responsible. To complete the circular statement one would have to take a cognitive enhancement pill in order to know whether one is responsible. I always thought that those kinds of drugs are given by the doctor because the patient comes for help not knowing what is wrong.

The only other other reason to take drugs like Adderall or Ritalin is to prove to yourself that you need enhancement, kind of like a brain-lift. Up-lift your brain and your memory will perform. Is that really always desirable?

I read in the German paper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, something quite revealing about a study of some of these drugs. The article said that they give you a hyper-focused brain. That might mean that you may know your test material well, but you won't be as capable of action outside of that focus, like not being able to find the class-room where you need to go to take the test.

Comparing a good night's sleep or eating the right foods really should not be confused with taking Adderall or Ritalin.

The drug Ritalin was invented in 1944 by Leandro Panizzon who named it after his wife Rita. He then used it to improve his ability to play tennis with her. Do the authors of the Nature article allow Ritalin as an enhancer for playing tennis? Or does that come too close to doping in sports?

Another thing I don't like is that these substances are being pushed before relevant studies have been completed. To give an OK for those drug just on a hunch is not very scientific.

Friday, December 05, 2008

I am puzzled

Mercury preservative was removed from house paint in the early 1990s. I posted in my webpage Dental Amalgam and Mercury (

In August 1989, a previously healthy 4-year-old boy in Michigan was diagnosed with acrodynia, a rare manifestation of childhood mercury poisoning. Symptoms and signs included leg cramps; rash; itching; excessive perspiration; rapid heartbeat; intermittent low-grade fevers; irritability, marked personality change; insomnia; headaches; hypertension; swelling; redness and peeling of the hands, feet, and nose; weakness of the pectoral and pelvic girdles; and nerve dysfunction in the lower extremities. A urine mercury level of 65 ug/L was measured on a 24-hour urine collection. Treatment with intensive chelation therapy increased his urine mercury excretion 20-fold. Examination of his mother and two siblings found urine mercury levels greater than or approximately equal to his; his father had elevated, although lower, levels. Parents and siblings were asymptomatic, although electromyographic abnormalities were detected in one sibling.... identified inhalation of mercury-containing vapors from phenylmercuric acetate contained in latex paint as the probable route of mercury exposure for the family; 17 gallons of paint had been applied to the inside of the family's home during the first week of July. Samples of the paint contained 930-955 ppm mercury, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) limit for mercury as a preservative in interior paint is 300 ppm. During July, the house was air conditioned, and the windows were not opened...
The preceding quote is an excerpt from an article by Aronow R, Cubbage C, Weiner R, Johnson B, Hesse J & Bedford J, Mercury Exposure from Interior Latex Paint - Michigan, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) 39(8):125-126 (1990)

Because of this case a study was done to see if mercury from latex paint can produce toxic levels. The result was described in the New England Journal of Medicine; Oct. 18, 1990; Volume 323:1096-1101, Nr.16 "Mercury Exposure From Interior Latex Paint", by MM Agocs, RA Etzel, RG Parrish, DC Paschal, PR Campagna, DS Cohen, EM Kilbourne, and JL Hesse:

We found that potentially hazardous exposure to mercury had occurred among persons whose homes were painted with a brand of paint containing mercury at concentrations approximately 2 1/2 times the Environmental Protection Agency's recommended limit.

It is puzzling that no one doubts that the mercury in the paint was clearly the cause of toxicity. Mercury apparently caused damage to the family that had lived in that apartment. There was only one complaint, and with little ado and without huge epidemiological studies it was accepted that the mercury was the cause of toxicity. The vehicle to get the mercury into the body was the inhaled mercury-containing air.

Now, when it comes to Thimerosal also a mercury preservative, this substance is apparently not dangerous enough to cause toxicity when it is injected. One might say the reason is that much more mercury was inhaled than was injected. Really? I am puzzled about the duplicity.