Archive for the ‘biology sex’ Category

Cigarettes Don’t Kill People

August 28, 2018

I’m tired of hearing the myth that cigarettes kill people. It reminds me of the old myth that cold temperatures cause colds.

The smoking issue is not as simple as the anti-smokers portray it.   It can involve more than just addiction to nicotine.

If smoking kills people why do so many smokers live to be over 60?

Looking at substances that sometimes kill people demonstrates how substances can kill people directly.

For most of us peanuts are a delicious and nutritious snack.  However, for some people with a peanut allergy peanuts can be one of the world’s deadliest poisons.

College fraternity hazing incidents sometimes have someone die from drinking too much alcohol.  Combining sleeping pills and alcohol creates a deadly cocktail.

Overdoses of prescription drugs and drugs like heroin kill thousands  a year.

I have never had any connection to the tobacco industry.  I have never smoked, owned any tobacco company assets or worked in a facility that sold tobacco products.  People I cared about have died from medical conditions associated with tobacco use.

On a personal level I don’t understand how people can enjoy smoking, but then smokers might not understand why I like jalapeno slices in my breakfast eggs.  On the scientific level I recognize a genetic condition that many smokers have may make smoking  a virtual necessity for them.

Smoking is blamed for causing lung cancer even though fewer than 10% of smokers  get lung cancer.  In an extensive British study only half of smokers died of conditions associated with smoking.  If cigarettes killed people why would they kill some, but not others?

Cold temperatures don’t automatically cause colds, but may make the body more vulnerable to colds.  Cold temperatures can force the body to divert energy to keeping warm which may reduce the body’s ability to fight the cold virus.

Perhaps cigarettes merely increase some smokers’ vulnerability to certain medical disorders.  For example, smoking may not actually cause cells to become cancerous.   Instead, the nicotine in cigarettes is capable of aiding  the growth of cancers caused by some other factor, such as asbestos.   Smokers may be more likely to take jobs which expose them  to  carcinogens.   Smoking may accelerate aging of some body parts in older smokers.

Evaluating the relative health impact of smoking isn’t as straight forward as tobacco critics assume because smokers often have a significant genetic difference from non-smokers.  Smokers tend to have what is called the”risk taker” or “trill seeker” version of the DRD4(Dopamine Receptor D4] gene.   Comparing risk taker smokers to non-risk taker non-smokers could produce an inaccurate result. Risk taking smokers conceivably could have a higher life expectancy than non-smoking risk takers, particularly those who are alcoholics or drug users.  .

Research is mixed on the existence of risk takers because how people take risks can vary. Individuals  may not consciously choose activities because they are “risky”.    An individual may instead choose activities that they describe as “exciting” or “challenging”.

Most people aren’t athletic enough to participate in obviously risky activities like mountain climbing or skiing.  Some people take risky jobs like fire fighting.   Others prefer to take risks by gambling or having multiple sex partners.  Some men seek thrills by going out in public dressed as women.  The portrayal of smoking as a dangerous activity makes smoking attractive to young risk takers who don’t feel they could physically or mentally handle other “risky” activities..  Young people often feel they can avoid the negative affects of whatever actions they take.   Alcohol and drugs like heroin appeal to other risk takers.

Criticism of smoking focuses on physical health. The risk taker gene and smoking may also impact mental health. The risk taker gene that smokers often have has a connection to mental health problems such as ADHD. (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).    Nicotine can have a calming effect and reduce anger.

Risk taking isn’t the only potential threat to a person’s health.  The opposite of risk taking is boredom which can have a strong negative impact.  It might even be possible to be bored to death.  People who attempt to quit smoking sometimes experience depression and suicidal thoughts attributed to nicotine withdrawal. For risk takers these conditions might also indicate boredom due to removal of risk generated excitement

Anti-smokers treat smoking as just a “nasty” unhealthy habit.  However, smoking is actually a complex behavior that some may need because of a genetic brain condition.

Marijuana Kills People

June 14, 2018

When a mass shooting occurs, some people act as if the guns themselves are responsible rather than the people who use them, Other people respond with the statement: “Guns don’t kill people. People do.” The statement is true because guns cannot independently affect the operation of the human brain.

The brain is a complex system controlled by the interaction of various chemicals. People use marijuana because it is one of the chemicals .that can affect the operation of the brain. Unfortunately, there is a dark side to marijuana. In addition to creating the sensation of feeling “high”, marijuana can cause behavior that kills.

Marijuana has two ways of killing people. Marijuana reduces the brain’s ability to detect and respond appropriately to danger such as when driving a car. Sometimes the marijuana user dies from a traffic accident. Sometime the person who dies was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Marijuana is associated with homicidal behavior. Marijuana violence often involves firearms. Some of this violence is due to marijuana’s tendency to induce paranoia in some people. Marijuana heightens the sense of fear as it does the other senses.

The sense of smell can play a role in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD]. Police officers who have had a bad experience with drug dealers or marijuana users could become overly fearful if they smell marijuana on someone they are dealing and be more likely to shoot than they would be otherwise. Government needs to finance research on this possibility.

Reducing Nicotine in Cigarettes Is an Extremely Bad Idea

April 4, 2018

The Food and Drug Administration’s proposal to gradually reduce nicotine levels in tobacco to discourage smoking is an extremely bad idea which won’t help anyone and could hurt some. Smoking may appear unattractive to non-smokers, but smokers may be doing what is best for someone with their genetic brain structure.

I have never had any connection to the tobacco industry. I have never smoked, owned any tobacco company assets or worked in a facility that sold tobacco products. People I cared about have died from medical conditions associated with tobacco use.

On a personal level I don’t understand how people can enjoy smoking, but then smokers might not understand why I like jalapeno slices in my breakfast eggs.

Unlike anti-tobacco fanatics I understand that differences in our brain genes can cause us to march to the beats of different drummers. One of the most important differences involves the Dopamine Receptor gene DR4 which some call the risk taker gene because those with a certain form of the gene are more prone to risk taking. Those with the risk taker form of the gene need a greater level of excitement possibly because they have more receptors for the neurotransmitter dopamine.

The risk taker gene is essential in hunter / warrior societies because male members of the society must be willing to face danger to feed and protect other members of the society. The risk taker gene may also affect decisions to move to another country or to the American frontier. .

The people who attempt to discourage young people from smoking don’t recognize that their publicity campaign may actually be encouraging young risk takers to try smoking. Potentially dangerous activities appeal to those with the risk taker gene because doing something dangerous is exciting. Surviving doing something dangerous provides a feeling of accomplishment. Telling young risk takers that smoking is dangerous makes smoking an attractive activity.

Those with the risk taker gene are prone to alcoholism and drug addiction indicating they may need a chemical stimulation for their DR4 receptors. Fortunately there is another chemical that can provide this stimulation. Nicotine can provide an alternate chemical for at least some of those with the risk taker gene without the dangerous side effects of alcohol or drugs. Users of alcohol or drugs can lose control of their behavior Smokers retain control over their behavior.

The conventional view is that nicotine independently causes people to become addicted to it. The reality might be more complicated. Some people may have a need for special chemicals that have a certain impact on their well being. We all are “addicted to” some chemicals such as vitamins. It might be that people with the risk taker gene have more specialized needs.

This post is too short to provide definitive answers, but it could provide a guide for additional research into the possibility that for those with the risk taker gene smoking might be a beneficial activity. The potential heath threat is less than the threat posed by a high fat diet or drinking and driving. Smokers generally live long enough to retire Incidentally, I recently saw an ad indicating some lawyers believe that many lung cancers blamed on smoking might actually be the result of asbestos exposure.

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Replacing Obamacare

October 10, 2017

President Trump promised to replace Obamacare, but so far has only suggested modifying it. He should replace the Obama approach to health care.

Medical costs cause the price of health insurance to be too high for some to afford. Obamacare attempted to deal with high insurance rates by forcing healthy people to buy health insurance.

A better approach would recognize that it isn’t practical for profit-making insurance programs to pay for expensive to treat chronic disorders such as those associated with alcohol or tobacco use. Special programs could be set up to cover such disorders.

Taxes on alcohol and tobacco should be used to fund programs for alcohol and tobacco related medical disorders. For example, a per gallon tax on alcohol products would go into a fund for treatment of alcohol related disorders. A doctor would certify that a person has an alcohol related disorder and health care providers would send health care bills for the patient to the alcohol fund in the same way bills are sent to insurance companies for payment. To simplify payment procedures all medical problems of a patient with an alcohol related medical problem would be paid by the fund because alcohol can reduce the body’s ability to handle problems. The fund would also cover medical costs of those who suffer injuries because of the actions of someone under the influence of alcohol even if the injury involved a preexisting condition. A police report that one of the drivers in a traffic accident was under the influence of alcohol would trigger payment from the alcohol fund even if the courts wouldn’t consider the drinking driver to be at fault.

Under the current insurance system people who never use tobacco or alcohol help pay for the medical treatment of those who have tobacco or alcohol related medical problems. Under my proposal only those who use alcohol and tobacco products would pay to treat medical problems related to alcohol and tobacco use.

Another type of health care fund would involve specific disorders, such as heart trouble or specific cancers that may be caused by various factors other than tobacco or alcohol. Government would use general taxes to finance treatment and conduct research. Other funds might come from non-profit organizations. Government might encourage non-profit funds by offering to match what they raise.

Each fund would operate in part as a research project. Paying for all treatments from a single fund would allow researchers to monitor and compare the success rate of various different treatments. Insurance companies are reluctant to fund experimental treatments because they can’t expect to benefit from them, but the federal government could benefit from knowing what doesn’t work as well as knowing what does work.

Those Who Want to Live Only With Whites Should Go Back to Ancestors’ Homelands

August 20, 2017

This post is a partial summary of the preceding post which contains links for some of the information.

The white person’s continent is Europe, not American. North America has been a melting pot since the Spanish arrived 500 years ago with African slaves whom they sometimes mated with. The first documented marriage of an African to a North American occurred in Florida in 1525.

In British North America the “melting pot” began a century later at Jamestown. The small populations in the early Virginia communities meant that people often had to marry across the black, white and red color lines. The 1636 marriage of an African man named John Punch to a white woman [who was probably an Irish indentured servant] was not the first such union, but it is one whose descendants have been traced to the 20th Century. Diplomat Dr. Ralph Bunche was one of the dark-complexioned descendants. A Kansas woman named Stanley Ann Dunham [the mother of President Barack Obama]
was one of the white descendants. Dunham like the vast majority of Americans with African ancestry didn’t know she had an African ancestor.

Later the introduction of permanent slavery included two laws which initially accelerated the mixing of African and European DNA. A child’s status as slave or free was determined by the mother’s status as slave [including indentured servants] or free. If the child was black it would be a permanent slave. White children would be indentured servants. Some slave owners increased the number of permanent slaves by requiring white female indentured servants to mate with black males.

Subsequent laws prohibiting sex across the color line were generally ignored if the woman was black. The primary purpose of such laws was to prevent free white women from having black babies who wouldn’t be slaves.

By 1776 some of the descendants of such “mixed” marriages were able to pass for white especially if they moved to a new location and changed their names. Some claimed they had North American or Mediterranean ancestry. The presence of the albino gene in the African genome could have helped some become white. Most probably didn’t tell their children about their ancestry.

During the slavery era some slave owners, including President Thomas Jefferson and his father in law, had slave “wives” called “concubines. Jefferson’s concubine, Sally Hemmings was described as white with long straight hair. The children of Jefferson’s concubine were eventually freed, left Virginia and passed for white.

As the southern urban population began increasing in the early 19th Century, some slave owners bred light skinned women [fancy slaves] for the sex trade. The end of slavery allowed some of these women along with other light skinned former slaves to pass for white. Prostitution provided an economic opportunity for young black women with a resulting increase in light skinned children who could eventually pass for white.

Many whites who checked their ancestry after the broadcast of Alex Haley’s “Roots” were surprised to find that an ancestor who had served in the military had the letter “c” after his name for “colored”.

Barack Obama was the first dark complexion president, but he wasn’t the first president to acknowledge African ancestry. President Warren G.Harding said one of his ancestors might have “jumped the fence”. There is speculation that five other presidents might have had African ancestry: Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson Abraham Lincoln, Calvin Coolidge, and Dwight Eisenhower. It would be difficult to prove or disprove such claims.

Most parents with North American ancestry probably did not pass along the information.

Most of us who consider ourselves white who have some ancestors who arrived five or more generations probably have at least one ancestor who was North American or African. At five generations in the past you can have 32 different ancestors. I know I have a North American ancestor and suspect I have an African ancestor.

Charlie Gard’s Parents Demonstrate British Fortitude

July 22, 2017

Americans  support Charlie Gard partly because his parents demonstrate the fortitude in the face of adversity that  Americans have long admired in the British.  Unfortunately for Charlie his doctors don’t have that fortitude.   The doctors prefer a white flag of surrender to a “stiff upper lip”.

If Charlie’s parents had been in London during WWII they would have come out of the shelters between bombing raids and taken  care of business.  I don’t know about his doctors.

The decision by Charlie’s parents to ask for American help repeats   another British behavior.  During the last century when “Mother England” needed help she turned to her powerful “child” the United States.

Old Medicine vs. New Medicine

July 16, 2017

Poor baby Charlie Gard and his parents are caught in the old battle between compassionless medical traditionalists who are satisfied with existing medical knowledge and the experimentalists who are trying to advance medical knowledge to reduce the number of disorders that cannot be successfully treated. Traditionalists who don’t know how to treat disorders tend to deny the possibility that patients like Charlie whom they don’t know how to treat can be treated by anyone. They are like selfish little children who don’t want to let other children play with toys they aren’t playing with at the time. Traditionalists would rather have a patient die than allow someone else to treat and cure “their” patient.

Traditionalists often call themselves “experts”, but they are incapable of being experts because experts must be familiar with the latest knowledge as well as the traditional knowledge. Development of new treatments can intimidate traditionalists because they don’t know if they can learn the new knowledge.

Traditionalists don’t understand that parents can accept a child’s death more easily if they know they have tried every possible treatment. Parents can accept death more easily if they know doctors have gained knowledge from their child’s death that might help other children in the future.

Do British Understand Importance of Medical Research?

July 16, 2017

The efforts of British medical personnel to prevent Charlie Gard from receiving experimental treatment implies they don’t understand how important participating in medical research is. All medical treatments begin as experiments. Someone had to be the first to be treated for rabies. Someone had to be the first to receive a heart transplant. Sixty years ago my grandfather had experimental treatment for skin cancer on his face that didn’t work as expected because, according to my dad, The doctor applied the radiation for too long. Decades later doctors used the knowledge they gained from treating my grandfather and others to successfully treat my father and his brother as well as myself for facial skin cancers.

Sometimes treatment developed for one malady can be used to treat another. American entertainer Jerry Lewis helped raise millions to develop treatments for muscular dystrophy. Doctor used one of those treatments to save Lewis from a potentially fatal heart problem.

We cannot tell in advance if Charlie Gard will benefit from experimental treatment. If he does not his parents will know that their son’s life served a purpose because knowledge gained from treating their son will eventually benefit the lives of other children just like knowledge from efforts to treat my grandfather’s skin cancer benefited his sons and grandson.

Should American Military Employ “Comfort Women”?

June 11, 2017

“Make love not war” was a popular slogan in the late sixties.   Soldiers in many wars  have found that “making love” is a way to forget the realities of war.

Sex and war have been connected since the first time men from one village attacked another village to kidnap women.    Invading armies often have a problem with soldiers sexually assaulting local  women.
American military forces have an ongoing problem with male personnel sexually assaulting female personnel.

Although genes don’t control human behavior the way genes control the behavior of other animals,  genes do influence human behavior.    It may be significant that in species in which  males may fight each other to the death, the fighting is over acquisition of females.

During World  War II Japan decided to try to  prevent the rape problem by hiring women  to serve as “comfort women” who would provide sexual services for Japanese soldiers.   The size of the Japanese military hampered the effort to have an all volunteer unit.  Japan dealt with this situation by conscripting  women in the countries Japan conquered.  The controversy over the practice continues to  hamper relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea.

Although I would not advocate the use of “comfort women”, I recognize “comfort women”  could provide an option for reducing rapes by male personnel.

Women providing sexual services would probably have a military job title like “personal therapist”.  The men they provide services to would be officially listed as “patients” and the “treatment” they receive would have the same privacy protection as other medical treatment.  Patients would have to pass some basic physical exam to make sure they don’t have contagious diseases or medical conditions that sexual activity might affect.   Therapists  would inform patients that a doctor or nurse might monitor their treatment by video.  Any monitoring  would be for quality control as well as to protect the therapists.   There are rare cases in which even young seemingly healthy athletes have heart attacks during strenuous activity because of undetected heart conditions.

Therapists  would receive  training as counselors and be expected  to watch for problems like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder so men could  receive treatment as early as possible.
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Outside  the building where the services are provided therapists would wear the same uniforms as other female personnel during the time when they are expected to be in uniform.     To guarantee personal privacy their living quarters would be separate from where the work area even if the living quarters are in the same building.    Therapists would receive hazardous duty pay because of the disease risk.   They would have a clothing allowance for their “work clothes”.

I realize that some people will question  having the military encourage what they consider an immoral practice.   I would ask these people if they  consider war a more moral activity than making love.   What many ignore is that prostitution is a business relationship rather than a personal relationship.   Although some prostitutes enjoy their work,  they don’t become involved with their clients.  The “personal therapists” I’m proposing would be providing a therapeutic service to those who are asked to risk their lives for their fellow Americans.  How can that be immoral?

Part of the rape problem is the failure of   American culture to teach men that they should learn to control their sexual nature.  Instead American culture encourages men to expect women to serve their sexual desires.   Unfortunately it isn’t practical for the military to change men’s sexual attitudes.   The most practical alternative is to employ women whose profession involves serving men’s sexual needs.

Reactionary Justices Resurrect Plessy v. Ferguson Attitude

July 28, 2016

On June 27, in the worst ruling since Plessy v. Ferguson five white Supreme Court Justices told the State of Texas it had to ignore the 14th Amendment requirement to provide “equal protection of the laws”.

The ruling was even worse than Plessy. Plessy merely allowed states to enact Jim Crow segregation laws. Justice Stephen Breyer’s opinion in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt requires the state of Texas to allow continued operation of Jane Crow health facilities. A Jane Crow facility provides health care to black women but doesn’t have to meet the same high standards as facilities that treat white men.

Abortion surgery involves the removal of a significant sized biomass from deep inside a woman’s body much like cancer surgery does. The Texas law requires facilities performing abortion surgery on women to meet standards for surgical facilities that treat white men. Women occasionally die from carelessly performed abortion surgery including Tanya Reaves who bled to death after an abortion at an unlicensed Jane Crow facility in Chicago or Cree Erwin who recently died in Battle Creek, Michigan, after an abortion at an as yet unidentified facility.

Justice Breyer’s reasoning is consistent with the type of reasoning used by justices in the late 19th Century. He falsely claims that the law places a burden on those seeking abortions. The law doesn’t restrict patients from seeking abortions. The law merely forces those organizations that want to get money from performing abortions to spend enough money to maximize patient safety. The law requires abortion facilities to function like 21st Century medical facilities instead of mid-20th Century abortion mills. The law doesn’t restrict anyone’s “right” to an abortion. The law merely forces organizations performing abortions to spend more money on patient safety even if that reduces the amount of money available for the salaries of doctors and patients.

Breyer’s reasoning is comparable to late 19th Century Court rulings that prevented states from protecting workers from predatory employers. The Court claimed that such laws interfered with workers’ freedom of contract.

The justices who agreed with Breyer are similar to the justices who allowed Jim Crow segregation laws to remain in effect for 60 years. The justices during the Jim Crow era simply ignored the fact that the facilities provided for blacks were inferior. I don’t know whether they intended to be racists, but for all practical purposes they were. I don’t know if the justices who overturned the Texas law which would have eliminated substandard Jane Crow facilities intend to be racists, but they are.