Archive for the ‘Medicine’ Category

To me this photo is as interesting as it is terrifying. Apparently this is a result of osteosarcoma of the cranium, or for us medical laymen, bone cancer of the skull. I can’t imagine how horrific and painful this would be to suffer and die from.

Osteosarcoma is an aggressive malignant neoplasm arising from primitive transformed cells ofmesenchymal origin (and thus a sarcoma) that exhibit osteoblastic differentiation and produce malignantosteoid. It is the most common histological form of primary bone cancer.[1]


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So I was walking around the University of Melbourne Parkville campus the other day and was handed a pamphlet from a Peta2 volunteer. “Ok, let’s see what they have to say,” I thought. Reading in only a few sentences I was already furious… It was a pamphlet touting an anti-dissection message for students from high schools and universities worldwide. But it was blatantly written by someone who is ignorant to how biology is taught, how the animals are treated, where they come from, how they are euthanised, and how to REFERENCE!!!

This was the monstrosity handed to me below:

These people shit me to tears because they believe they have a monopoly on animal ethics, which is completely ludicrous. These idiots have no idea where animals used in dissections are acquired from, how they’re killed, the benefits of dissection, etc. I’ll go through each of these. [I’ll just add that I am speaking from my own personal experiences as a scientist and biologist from Australia.]

Where do they come from? From my experience as a scientist who’s studied biology since high school, and subsequently has carried out numerous dissections of many different animals, all animals are either specifically bred for dissection, or obtained from butchers or fish markets where they would’ve been sold as food.

The rats and mice used in the Zoology Department at the University of Melbourne live in a disease free environment, they receive a constant and adequate supply of food, water and shelter for the entire length of their lives, at the end of which they receive a quick, painless and humane death from professional scientists. The frogs used are the pest species Bufo marinus (or Cane toad), which are either collected from the wild (a benefit to our natural environment and wildlife in Australia) or specifically bred in a lab. And again are killed quickly, painlessly and humanely by professionals prior to being dissected.

How are they killed? Today, no university or high school would be able to legally kill their own animals unless it follows strict ethical guidelines laid out by an ethics committee. Frogs I’ve dissected are either pithed (the brain is quickly destroyed by a needle), or put in an anaesthetic bath or freezer where they die relatively quickly and without pain. Mammals such as rats or mice, and birds like pigeons, are usually killed by gassing with CO2, and then have their necks broken quickly to ensure they have died humanely. This takes only 30 seconds to a minute and again is painless. From what I gather from my vet friends the dogs, cats and other animals they dissect have usually died or been euthanised for some other reason, whether they were sick, old, or a pound simply had too many animals, etc. Considering the huge amount of animals that die and are euthanised on a day to day basis around the world they hardly have to unethically kill and use native animals like the frog depicted above on the pamphlet. (Here’s the real info on the bogus foetal pig argument they use on the pamphlet)

What are the benefits of dissection? Outlined and referenced on the page linked just above re: foetal pigs, benefits are explained as the following:

1. Dissection is a hands-on, investigatory kind of activity for students. Historically, dissection has been the principle tool of investigation for anatomists(2). Dissection allows students to “test the thruthfulness” of what they see in books.(3)

2. Dissection engages students in “observational and kinesthetic learning that instills a recognition an appreciation for the three dimensional structure of the animal body, the interconnections between organs and organ systems, and the uniqueness of biological material.”(2)

3. Dissection impresses on students the normal variation that is present in the natural world. No two fetal pigs, even though they are perfectly normal, will look exactly the same. In fact, to do well on practicals, students MUST looks at several examples of each structure in different animals. Occasionally, quite significant anatomical variations (anomalies) will be noticed. Most would function perfectly normally. This helps to develop “students’ powers of observation.”(3)

Animals are not just collected willy-nilly in the wild, killed inhumanely, and then poked and prodded for the sake of it. How would doctors, vets, biologists, anatomists, etc be trained appropriately if they were denied access to dissections. One can learn a lot from pictures and text in a book but when it really comes down to it nothing can replace practical exercises.

Would you trust a doctor to operate on your heart if he’d only ever read books and never seen or touched a real heart in the flesh? What about a vet operating on your pet dog who’d never actually seen inside a dog before? Or maybe a pilot that had only ever flown simulation, or a bus driver who’d never been in a real automobile? The point is, all of these professions mentioned above require 100s if not 1000s of hours of hands-on practical work in each of their respective areas prior to one completing their training and being a ‘professional’.

To all of the volunteers, supporters and members of Peta2, if you really want to stick by your beliefs, keep a shred of integrity and gain any respect from people like me you will have to refuse all future medical treatment… I can’t imagine a single operation, vaccine, pharmaceutical treatment, etc that doesn’t owe its invention and validity to experiments and trials involving animals/humans. The world as a whole, animals and humans alike, would be a great deal worse off with and enjoy a lot more suffering and needless death but for these experiments, trials and dissections.

Spreading misinformation, propaganda and fear isn’t going to help anyone or anything when it really comes down to it.

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I strongly recommend reading this article written by a veteran heart surgeon Dr. Dwight Lundell, M. D. who has 25 years experience having operated on 5000+ patients. Just to give you a taste here’s the intro:

We physicians with all our training, knowledge and authority often acquire a rather large ego that tends to make it difficult to admit we are wrong. So, here it is. I freely admit to being wrong. As a heart surgeon with 25 years experience, having performed over 5,000 open-heart surgeries, today is my day to right the wrong with medical and scientific fact. 

I trained for many years with other prominent physicians labelled “opinion makers.” Bombarded with scientific literature, continually attending education seminars, we opinion makers insisted heart disease resulted from the simple fact of elevated blood cholesterol. 

The only accepted therapy was prescribing medications to lower cholesterol and a diet that severely restricted fat intake. The latter of course we insisted would lower cholesterol and heart disease. Deviations from these recommendations were considered heresy and could quite possibly result in malpractice. 

It Is Not Working! 

These recommendations are no longer scientifically or morally defensible. The discovery a few years ago that inflammation in the artery wall is the real cause of heart disease is slowly leading to a paradigm shift in how heart disease and other chronic ailments will be treated. 

The long-established dietary recommendations have created epidemics of obesity and diabetes, the consequences of which dwarf any historical plague in terms of mortality, human suffering and dire economic consequences. 

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I’m so sick of hearing about these stories!

A two-week old infant died last year in late September, at Maimonides Hospital, after he was circumcised in a Jewish ritual called metzizah b’ peh. The cause of death was recorded as “disseminated herpes simplex virus Type 1, complicating ritual circumcision with oral suction”.

City official refuse to comment, and according to the article I read in NYDailyNews.com “it’s unclear who performed the circumcision”.

Although it may be impossible to now find the specific person involved in the circumcision who transmitted the disease to the baby, in my opinion that is not the main concern. The issue at hand is that this ritual is still legal and continues today whilst young children are dying from STIs these mohels are transmitting to them. We need to stop the rituals, more than focus on those specific mohels who could be traced to specific STI transmission events.

This practice is beyond disgusting, and more to the point is incredibly dangerous for infants involved. I think both the families who allow their children to be exposed to this ritual, and the religious leaders carry the ritual out itself, should be held accountable, as anyone else would be in similar circumstances without the protective banner of ‘religion’.

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An article in the Wall Street Journal published earlier this week reported on the apparent rise in doctors now refusing or ‘firing’ patients who refuse vaccinations for themselves or their children.

In a study of Connecticut pediatricians published last year, some 30% of 133 doctors said they had asked a family to leave their practice for vaccine refusal, and a recent survey of 909 Midwestern pediatricians found that 21% reported discharging families for the same reason. By comparison, in 2001 and 2006 about 6% of physicians said they “routinely” stopped working with families due to parents’ continued vaccine refusal and 16% “sometimes” dismissed them, according to surveys conducted then by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Good on them I say. Yes, they have a duty of care to patients and people, but I think that when their patients are actively avoiding scientifically backed treatments for easily preventable diseases, and subsequently endangering both themselves and their children, then they should have the power to refuse such people in their practices. In my opinion, it should be considered child abuse for parents to refuse them medical treatments such as vaccines that are backed by evidence to save lives, not lose them or cause autism… Ignorance isn’t an excuse.

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Yep, as the title suggests the latest research from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, has found the following:

A drug used to treat cancer can reverse Alzheimer’s disease in mice – and it takes just 72 hours to work its magic. It remains to be seen if the drug has the same effect in people with Alzheimer’s, though.

Alzheimer’s disease is associated with deposits of beta-amyloid peptides in the brain. The build-up is thought to underlie the abnormal brain activity that leads to memory problems, and also kick-starts a chemical cascade that ultimately leads to the death of neurons.

When mice with Alzheimer’s-like brain damage were given bexarotene orally, they were able to clear more than half of the beta-amyloid peptides from the brain within 72 hours. They also showed a rapid reversal of cognitive and social deficits.

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You’d think that in any context a man putting his mouth over a baby’s penis and sucking would be seen as outrageous by each and every person with sound mind, right?

Wrong. The below image is of one of the most disgusting religious practices I can think of aside from female circumcision and child brides.

It’s called Metzitzah B’peh, a circumcision ritual practiced by some Orthodox Jews whereby the baby is circumcised in front of an audience containing its family, and then has the remaining blood sucked from its penis by a Jewish practitioner, or Mohel. So these are literally ‘cock-sucking’ Jews! Sorry I couldn’t help myself. All jokes aside, it has lead to many babies around the world contracting diseases such as herpes, syphilis and gonorrhoea. In some cases such diseases can lead to the permanent brain damage or even death of the infant.

This is the kind of thing that makes me so angry with religion. In no other area of our society could we allow this to occur under any circumstances, but for when it’s done under the banner of ‘religion’. It’s archaic, disgusting, redundant and inexcusable in today’s societies. Yet, I’m sure many religion apologist would brush something off, even this horrendous, while offering up the feeble argument that ‘it’s their culture and customs, how can we complain?’

We can complain because we know the consequences of such actions, we can recognise how useless and old-fashioned such practices are, and societal morality should dictate that we protect the freedoms of all individuals, including babies, and including protecting them from religion. Especially when it can directly endanger their lives.

When are we going to be able to stop, look at our cultures, at our practices and rituals and say, “hey, this is no longer relevant, no longer useful, no longer practical, it’s time to reassess things and evolve in order to increase the well-being of everyone”?

I never understand the attitude people have when it comes to things like religion, and even more recently the crap relating to 2012 apocalypse because the Mayan calendar is ending, that the older something is, the longer it has been practiced, the more legitimate it must be. I often hear arguments like, “but the Bible is so old, why wouldn’t it be true?”, “but these people have practiced *insert ritual* for 2000 years, how can we say they should stop?”, “but these people have believed *insert superstition* for 200 years, how can we tell them they’re wrong”.

I’m sorry, but the age of something, or the length of time it has been practiced, isn’t sufficient evidence as to it’s legitimacy or justification. People 2000 years ago were a shit load more ignorant to the ways of the world than probably the average 10 year old. How on earth would any of their writings, traditions and rituals be absolute and relevant to today’s societies and people? Why can we move on from things like believe the world was flat, that the Sun revolves around the Earth, that animals spontaneously generate out of nothing, that disease and illness were caused by the devil or evil spirits, but we still allow children to be mentally, and sometimes physically, abused as a result of ancient and redundant ideology?

There is no honour or dignity in holding onto the past. If we can’t learn and evolve then we’re the ones who ultimately suffer. As an atheist, scientist and compassionate humanist this sort of shit I cannot and will not tolerate. It is our obligation as members of such an advanced and aware species to work towards increasing the well-being of all other humans and sentient beings, and remove as much needless suffering and death as we can.

Rant over.

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