PCBs in School Classrooms





This is a reminder that plenty ofballasts using PCB still exist and that their failure often dumps PCBs into theatmosphere of the building.  The deviceis typically removed quickly, but exposure is common.   To be fair, all buildings should now beinspected for remaining obsolete ballasts and transformers that use PCBs.  They are all long past replacement dates andare all waiting to fail only for replacement. There remains no good reason for them to be there.

The likelihood of catastrophicexposure is low, except for the chap tasked for their removal when they dofail.  No one has done a study onmaintenance men for PCB exposure and their assorted ailments.

As this item makes clear, thereal and present danger is to a fetus in the womb.  Yet later dangers may simply be unlooked for.  If you do not ask you do not know.  That applies to a host of chemicals thatfarmers in particular get exposed to.  Wehave little reason to trust the self serving research that came from thecompanies who market these products.

This coverage applies to allschools everywhere and is something everyone should be awake to.  Simply asking about the last time allballasts were replaced may be enough to complete the recycling of the oldballasts.


PCBs in School Classrooms Q&A:

February 7, 2011, 1:48 PM



Environmental Protection AgencyA ballast for a fluorescent lightingfixture that burst unexpectedly.


As I reportedlast week, many parents in New York City are worried about the presence of the chemicalsknown as PCBs in light fixtures and caulking in school buildings. The latest spot inspection bythe federal Environmental Protection Agency — on Jan. 29 at Public School 68 inthe Bronx –- turned up lighting ballasts that were leaking PCBs above theregulatory level of 50 parts per million in 10 of 13 samples taken, the agencyannounced Monday. Over the past several weeks, the E.P.A. found similarcontamination at all three other city schools that it inspected, too.

For our Green blog readers, we submitted written questions to twoexperts at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan about any health risks faced bystudents and teachers.

The following responses, edited for brevity, were provided by Dr. MaidaP. Galvez, an associate professor in the school’s Department of PreventiveMedicine and Pediatrics and the director of the hospital’s Region 2 PediatricEnvironmental Health Specialty Unit, and Dr. Philip J. Landrigan, a professorof pediatrics who is chairman of both community medicine and the Department ofPreventive Medicine as well as the school’s dean of global health.

Q.
When did doctors awaken to the dangers of PCBs, or ploychlorinatedbiphenyls?

A.
Medical and environmental concern about the long environmentalpersistence and possible effects on human health of PCBs first arose in the1960s and 1970s and led to a federal ban on the manufacture of PCBs that wasimposed in 1976 under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Unfortunately, PCBs hadalready become widespread in the environment by that time, and they remain withus today.

Q.
What does the research tell us about health risks?

A.
Much research on PCBs has been conducted over the past three decades.Biomedical research on PCBs has documented that diet is today the principalsource of human exposure. For most people, contaminated fish is one importantsource of dietary exposure. Other sources of exposure include PCBs in olderbuilding materials like caulking and fluorescent light fixtures.

Fetal brain damage to babies in the womb is the most important humanhealth effect of PCB exposure. Well-conducted, highly credible epidemiologicalstudies demonstrate that babies born to mothers with elevated levels of PCBs intheir bodies have diminished intelligence, as measured by decreased I.Q.scores. These effects on the fetal brain appear to be permanent andirreversible.

Children and adults are much less sensitive to PCBs than unbornchildren.

Q.
Many parents are fretting about the discovery of light fixtures inschools that are leaking PCBs. What would you tell people who fear that theirchildren will suffer health effects from exposure to these toxic chemicals?

A.
Now that PCBs have been discovered in leaking light fixtures inschools, it is clear that faulty fixtures need to be removed to prevent furtherexposure of children, teachers and other school staff. But this situation isnot a medical emergency.

PCBs at the levels found in schools in New York City today will not make any childor any teacher acutely ill. There is no need for panic. There is time tomeasure, evaluate and take appropriately focused, intelligent preventiveaction. But there is also no excuse for delay in taking action. The goal is tokeep environmental exposures low to minimize risk.

Ensuring proper ventilation is another important measure that canreduce exposures to PCBs and improve other aspects of indoor air quality issuesin classrooms. Ensuring adequate facilities and time for hand washing —especially before eating — is another important measure that can reduceexposures to PCBs.

Q.
How much exposure would start worrying you?

A.
We are most concerned about exposures to pregnant teachers and otheradult women of childbearing age in the schools because exposures to even lowlevels of toxic chemicals during pregnancy have been shown to have thepotential to cause injury to the developing fetal brain. There are no safethresholds for chemical exposure during pregnancy.

“Fetal brain damage to babies in the womb is the most important humanhealth effect of PCB exposure.”


Q.
I understand that it is difficult to provide certainty about any healthrisks, but is there anything that makes people susceptible to developing adisease because of exposure to PCBs? Is it related to weight? Age? Preschoolstudents versus elementary or high school students?

A.
Unborn children in the mother’s womb are the group within thepopulation at greatest risk of injury for the reasons detailed above. Youngchildren may be at increased risk of exposure to PCBs because ofage-appropriate hand-to-mouth behaviors. The air-level guidelines set by theE.P.A. take these factors into account and are more protective for youngerclasses than older ones.

Q.
What can parents do to protect their children?

A.
To avoid exposure, parents can familiarize themselves with sources androutes by which PCBs enter the human body. Diet is the most important of theseexposure sources, and therefore it is especially important to avoid eatingcontaminated fish. Parents can check local fish advisories and followguidelines on recommended fish intake. This is especially important forpregnant women and young children.

Parents can also learn what products contain PCBs. If they findPCB-containing products in their homes like old electrical equipment, theyshould properly dispose of it and clean up spills or leaks immediately. Whenthey are in doubt about how to dispose of such equipment, they should contactthe city’s Department of Health or the E.P.A.

Parents can advocate for regular inspections and proper maintenance of
existing fluorescent light fixtures in schools. Prompt cleanup of PCB spillsand replacement of faulty equipment when possible will minimize children’sexposures to PCB containing materials. This type of work should be done whenchildren are not present in the building.

On a national level, advocating for reforms is key to this issue. Wecannot continue, as we have for too long in the past, to allow chemicals to beplaced in the environment only to wonder decades later whether there is apotential for harm to human health, especially for vulnerable populationsincluding pregnant women and young children. Remember, PCBs are just one ofmany potentiallyconcerning chemicals used widely.

Q.
Some parents in Staten Island kepttheir children at home until the city replaced the light fixtures. Was thissensible or an overreaction, from your point of view?

“We cannot continue, as we have for too long in the past, to allowchemicals to be placed in the environment only to wonder decades later whetherthere is a potential for harm to human health.”
A.
It’s often very difficult for parents to know what to do as thesesituations unfold. The take-home message for parents is that in conducting apilot study, New York Cityis one of the first school districts in the country to address PCBs in theclassroom.

PCBs at the levels found in schools in New York City today will not make any childor any teacher acutely ill. In fact, compared with air levels reported in someother studies, air levels reported in NYC schools have been quite low.Therefore, in this particular instance we would say certainly send your child toschool. The benefits of going to school far outweigh any risk from PCBs in theschool environment.

Q.
Are there other more general health risks related to attending publicschool in New York City?

A.
It can be very challenging for schools to decide which environmentalconcern deserves top priority and often requires a school-by-school assessment.The E.P.A.’s Tools for SchoolsAction Kit, available at , can help schools assess indoor air quality issuesand ensure a healthy environment in school buildings.

Protocells and Clay






Well maybe.  I think there is plenty of opportunity inbasic organic chemistry to form coated water droplets that have sufficientintegrity to cook up something strange.  Alsorecall the work done mixing elementary chemicals in ice fractures fordecades.  Clay itself is certainly usefuland suggestive since it is degraded volcanic ash which contains a lot of solidcrystalline acids to act as hammer and forge to produce more complex molecules.

My point is that a clay particleis capable of strongly inducing chemical reactions.  Thus it is a natural driver for the creationof a protocell, but more like a catalyst than a structural template.

I think we are on the right trackto experimentally produce protocells that are able to mimic some of the key functionsof a cell. 


Clay-Armored Bubbles May Have Formed First Protocells

by Staff Writers

Cambridge MA(SPX) Feb 09, 2011




Fatty-acid liposomes compartmentalize inside a clay vesicle. Credit:Photo courtesy of Anand Bala Subramaniam, Harvard School of Engineeringand Applied Sciences.



A team of applied physicists at Harvard's Schoolof Engineering and Applied Sciences(SEAS), Princeton, and Brandeis havedemonstrated the formation of semipermeable vesicles from inorganic clay.

The research, published online this week in the journal Soft Matter,shows that clay vesicles provide an ideal container for thecompartmentalization of complex organic molecules.

The authors say the discovery opens the possibility that primitivecells might have formed inside inorganic clay microcompartments.

"A lot of work, dating back several decades, explores the role ofair bubbles in concentrating molecules and nanoparticles to allow interestingchemistry to occur," says lead author Anand Bala Subramaniam, a doctoralcandidate at SEAS.

"We have now provided a complete physical mechanism for thetransition from a two-phase clay-air bubble system, which precludes anyaqueous-phase chemistry, to a single aqueous-phase clay vesicle system,"Subramaniam says, "creating a semipermeable vesicle from materials thatare readily available in the environment."



"Clay-armored bubbles" form naturally when platelikeparticles of montmorillonite collect on the outer surface of air bubbles underwater.

When the clay bubbles come into contact with simple organic liquidslike ethanol and methanol, which have a lower surface tension than water, theliquid wets the overlapping plates. As the inner surface of the clay shellbecomes wet, the disturbed air bubble inside dissolves.

The resulting clay vesicle is a strong, spherical shell that creates aphysical boundary between the water inside and the water outside. Thetranslucent, cell-like vesicles are robust enough to protect their contents ina dynamic, aquatic environment such as the ocean.

Microscopic pores in the vesicle walls create a semipermeable membranethat allows chemical building blocks to enter the "cell," whilepreventing larger structures from leaving.

Scientists have studied montmorillonite, an abundant clay, for hundredsof years, and the mineral is known to serve as a chemical catalyst, encouraginglipids to form membranes and single nucleotides to join into strands of RNA.

Because liposomes and RNA would have been essential precursors toprimordial life, Subramaniam and his coauthors suggest that the pores in theclay vesicles could do double duty as both selective entry points and catalyticsites.

"The conclusion here is that small fatty acid molecules go in andself-assemble into larger structures, and then they can't come out," saysprincipal investigator Howard A. Stone, the Dixon Professor in Mechanical andAerospace Engineering at Princeton, and a former Harvard faculty member."If there is a benefit to being protected in a clay vesicle, this is anatural way to favor and select for molecules that can self-organize."

Future research will explore the physical interactions between theplatelike clay particles, and between the liquids and the clay. The researchersare also interested to see whether these clay vesicles can, indeed, be found inthe natural environment today.

"Whether clay vesicles could have played a significant role in theorigins of life is of course unknown," says Subramaniam, "but thefact that they are so robust, along with the well-known catalytic properties ofclay, suggests that they may have had some part to play."


Clay-armored bubbles may have formed first protocells

February 7, 2011

Fatty-acid liposomes compartmentalize inside a clay vesicle. Credit:Photo courtesy of Anand Bala Subramaniam, Harvard School of Engineeringand Applied Sciences.

(PhysOrg.com) -- A team of applied physicists at Harvard's School of Engineeringand Applied Sciences (SEAS), Princeton, andBrandeis have demonstrated the formation of semipermeable vesicles frominorganic clay.

The research, published online this week in the journal Soft Matter, showsthat clay vesicles provide an ideal container for the compartmentalization of complex organicmolecules.

The authors say the discovery opens the possibility that primitivecells might have formed inside inorganic clay microcompartments.

"A lot of work, dating back several decades, explores the role ofair bubbles in concentrating molecules and nanoparticles toallow interesting chemistry to occur," says lead author Anand BalaSubramaniam, a doctoral candidate at SEAS.

"We have now provided a complete physical mechanism for thetransition from a two-phase clay–air bubble system, which precludes anyaqueous-phase chemistry, to a single aqueous-phase clay vesicle system,"Subramaniam says, "creating a semipermeable vesicle from materials thatare readily available in the environment."

"Clay-armored bubbles" form naturally when platelikeparticles of montmorillonite collect on the outer surface of air bubbles underwater.

When the clay bubbles come into contact with simple organic liquidslike ethanol and methanol, which have a lower surface tension than water, theliquid wets the overlapping plates. As the inner surface of the clay shellbecomes wet, the disturbed air bubble inside dissolves.

The resulting clay vesicle is a strong, spherical shell that creates aphysical boundary between the water inside and the water outside. Thetranslucent, cell-like vesicles are robust enough to protect their contents ina dynamic, aquatic environment such as the ocean.






The authors' schematic of clay vesicle formation, showing a cut-awayview of the clay shell and dissolving bubble at the top, and a view of thewater-air interface at the bottom. Credit: Image courtesy of Anand BalaSubramaniam, Harvard School of Engineering andApplied Sciences.

Microscopic pores in the vesicle walls create a semipermeable membranethat allows chemical building blocks to enter the "cell," whilepreventing larger structures from leaving.

Scientists have studied montmorillonite, an abundant clay, for hundredsof years, and the mineral is known to serve as a chemical catalyst, encouraginglipids to form membranes and single nucleotides to join into strands ofRNA. 

Because liposomes and RNA would have been essential precursors toprimordial life, Subramaniam and his coauthors suggest that the pores in theclay vesicles could do double duty as both selective entry points and catalyticsites.

"The conclusion here is that small fatty acid molecules go in andself-assemble into larger structures, and then they can't come out," saysprincipal investigator Howard A. Stone, the Dixon Professor in Mechanical andAerospace Engineering at Princeton, and a former Harvard faculty member."If there is a benefit to being protected in a clay vesicle, this is anatural way to favor and select for molecules that can self-organize."

####
This SEM image shows the exterior surface of a clay vesicle. Photocourtesy of Anand Bala Subramaniam.

Future research will explore the physical interactions between the platelikeclay particles, and between the liquids and the clay. The researchers are alsointerested to see whether these clay vesicles can, indeed, be found in thenatural environment today.

"Whether clay vesicles could have played a significant role in theorigins of life is of course unknown," says Subramaniam, "but thefact that they are so robust, along with the well-known catalytic propertiesof clay, suggests thatthey may have had some part to play."

Vines on Up Trend in American Tropics






This is one of those results thatmake no particular sense at all.  It doesconfirm the existence of a long term cycle and provides another datum forscience to track for a century or two.  Iwould anticipate a reversal sooner or later and that may make all clear or not.

For the nonce, lianas are gettingthe upper hand.

So for now we have some data andthe apparent need to collect a lot more over a long time and the need to fitthis into our knowledge of forest life cycles.

Why are vines overtaking the American tropics?

February 14, 2011


 (PhysOrg.com) -- SleepingBeauty's kingdom was overgrown by vines when she fell into a deep sleep.Researchers at the Smithsonian in Panamaand the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukeereceived more than a million dollars from the U.S. National Science Foundation todiscover why real vines are overtaking the American tropics. Data from eightsites show that vines are overgrowing trees in all cases.

"We are witnessing a fundamental structural change in the physicalmake-up of forests that will have a profound impact on the animals, humancommunities and businesses that depend on them for their livelihoods,"said Stefan Schnitzer, research associate at the Smithsonian Tropical ResearchInstitute in Panama and associate professor at the University of Wisconsin atMilwaukee.

Tropical forests hold more than half of the Earth's terrestrial speciesand much of the planet's carbon. If vines take over tropical forests the rulesused to model ecosystem services, such as regulation of the water cycle andcarbon storage may no longer apply.

"In 2002, Oliver Phillips, a professor at the University of Leedsin the U.K.,published a controversial study claiming that vines were becoming more commonin the Amazon," said Schnitzer. "By pulling together data from eightdifferent studies, we now have irrefutable evidence that vines are on the risenot only in the Amazon, but throughout the American tropics."

On Barro ColoradoIsland in Panama, the proportion of vines intree crowns has more than doubled over the past 40 years. In French Guiana, liana vines increased 60 percent faster than trees from1992 to 2002. Similar reports from Brazil,the Bolivian Amazon and subtropical forests in South Carolina in the United States confirm that vines are becoming morecommon and represent more of the total forest biomass.

Trees have huge woody trunks that take a lot of time and energy toproduce. Vines take advantage of trees, growing quickly on slender stems upinto the forest canopy, where their leaves may compete for light with theleaves of the trees that support them.

There is still no consensus as to why lianas are gaining the upperhand. They may survive seasonal droughts that are becoming more common asclimate becomes more variable. They may recover more quickly from naturaldisturbances such as hurricanes and El NiƱo events and from human disturbanceslike logging, clearing land for agriculture and road building. Lianas respondquickly to an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide—growing faster than associatedtree species in several experiments.

In North American forests, invasive vines such as kudzu, orientalbittersweet, English ivy and Japanese honeysuckle often reduce native treeregeneration and survival, although there is no obvious trend as there is inthe American tropics. In contrast, two studies of forests in tropical Africa did not detect vine overgrowth.

To understand the nature of this contemporary spell that has been caston the tropical forests of the Americas, the authors propose to take advantageof the widespread network of large-scale, long-term monitoring plots — theSmithsonian Institution Global Earth Observatory network coordinated by theCenter for Tropical Forest Science — combined with experiments to reveal whatgives vines a competitive edge over trees.

Business models for investment in climate-mitigation schemes throughcarbon storage, climate models and water availability all rely upon accurateinformation about tree growth and cover in tropical forests. Themajor physical transformations indicated by this research call the reliabilityof such models into question.

More information: Schnitzer, S.A. andBongers, F. 2011. Increasing liana abundance and biomass in tropical forests:emerging patterns and putative mechanisms. Ecology Letters. Doi:10.1111/j.1461-0248.2011.01890.x Foronline publication on 14 Feb. 2011.

Provided by Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Cancer Cause





The take home is that it is nevera good idea to breath toxins on a regular basis, and until pretty recently wewere pretty relaxed about all that.

This piece of work tells us that inwhich breathing wood smoke was pretty well unavoidable (pre 17th century),that cancer was rare.  Alternativeexplanations are pretty well eliminated.

We are now entering a globalsystem in which such casual toxin exposure will disappear.  The big one caused by the use of cigaretteshas already been hugely reduced.  Thenext one will be the transition away from fuel based automobiles.  After that a few simple tweaks and it will bealmost impossible to be exposed.

Of course, food additives aredrummed as a concern as well they should be. Yet little compelling evidence for risk actually exists.

As Dr Al Sears points out, our bodiesare quite able to handle minor insults and we help it along by properly toppingup with ten grams or so of vitamin C, two grams or so of vitamin D and bit ofCoQ10 (or a steak).

Plenty of literature has alreadymade this protocol stand out.  Now weknow clearly what causes cancer and know that a strong cellular system protectsoneself.


Cancer. Just the word evokes fear.
February 21, 2011

The medical journals and newsletters I get are often filledwith articles about cancer. It’s the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Oncesomeone mentions it, it’s all you can think about.

And if you’re a regular reader, you probably won’t be surprised thatmost of the cancer-related articles in medical publications are only about drugtreatments.

I’ve even read research on whether or not aspirin prevents cancer. Iwonder who’s sponsoring those studies … Are they really trying to tell us thatpeople are getting cancer because of a deficiency of aspirin?

The truth is, cancer rates are not rising because we’re deficient inman-made painkillers. Cancer is increasing because of our man-made toxicenvironment.

Here’s something positive about cancer that most people don’t know…

Cancer was almost unknown in ancient times.

Why is this good news? Because it means you don’t need any scaryscience to prevent it.
In a study completed just recently and published in the journal Nature,researchers looked at tissue samples from hundreds of Egyptian mummies.There should have been evidence of cancer in all of them, according to moderncancer statistics. And mummification would have preserved any sign of tumors.

But instead of finding cancer in nearly every mummy … they found only asingle case. The hundreds of other mummies showed no sign of cancer at all.

These results would be impossible if cancer were not an entirely modernplague. Statistically, it could not happen.

And it wasn’t because Egyptians didn’t live long enough to get cancer.The mummies had evidence of age-related problems like brittle bones and hardenedarteries.

What we should be doing today is trying to mimic the environment we hadback then. That’s what we should be paying attention to.

Researchers from some of the largest institutions in Texas are trying to help. They recentlyrevealed how cancer begins. It starts with weakened cells.

Strands of DNA sometimes get broken through your body’s naturalprocesses. Your cells then send signals to your body to repair your DNA. If theresponse is deficient, or no help comes at all, those cells become vulnerableto cancer.2

What happens today that did not happen in out native environment isthat those breaks occur a lot more often. They’re caused by things like environmentalpollutants and chemical ingredients in food. Our bodies haven’t adapted tothe huge increase in these man-made toxins over a very short period.

So let me be as clear as I can: Cancer isn’t a “normal” part of life.Toxins and chemicals are interfering with your natural ability to defendyourself.

The most important thing you can do is to strengthen your cells, sothey’re more disease-resistant. And that means making sure your body has theenergy and the nutrients to repair and maintain those cells.

The three most important nutrients you need to keep your cellsstrong are also the ones chronically deficient in today’s world. They arevitamin C, vitamin D and CoQ10

1. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that disarms damaging freeradicals before they can attack healthy cells and stimulate tumor growth.

We also now know that the protective caps on the ends of your DNA,called telomeres, are very sensitive to this kind of damage. The shorter yourtelomeres, the older your cells act and the more susceptible they are tobecoming cancerous. The new, exciting discovery about vitamin C is that it’svery effective at defending you against this process and protecting your DNA. 

We get some vitamin C from our food, but not nearly enough. The foodswith the most vitamin C include dark green, leafy vegetables, and “superfruits”like the acerola cherry. Also, you probably don’t think of them this way,but peppers are the kings of vegetable vitamin C. Watercress is alsoa little-known but rich source of vitamin C. If you choose to supplement, tryto get 1,500 mg twice a day if you’re healthy. If you’re under a lot of stress,or if you are sick, you can take as much as 20,000 mg per day. 

2. Low Vitamin D levels are strongly linked to cancer. Areport out of a university in Nebraskashowed that vitamin D has the potential to lower the risk of all cancersin women by 77 percent.3

Researchers at the University of California San Diego foundyou can lower your risk of breast cancer by 50 percent, and colon cancer bymore than 65 percent, simply by boosting your vitamin D levels throughsunlight, diet or supplements.4,5

A Harvard-sponsored report published in the Journal of the NationalCancer Institute revealed that when men raise their vitamin D intake, theycan lower their overall risk of cancer death by 29 percent, drop rates of “digestivetract” cancers by 43 percent (throat, stomach and colon), and reduce deathrates from these cancers by 45 percent.6
The best source of vitamin D is sunshine. Your skin produces vitamin Dwhen the sun’s rays shine on you. Ten to 20 minutes of sun get’s you a fullday’s supply of it. To supplement with vitamin D, make sure you take thenatural form, D3. I recommend at least 2,000 IU per day.

3. CoQ10 is one of the most overlooked nutrients. The governmentdoesn’t even have a recommended daily intake for it. But it’s thefuel your cells use to make energy. That means it’s the primary source ofenergy for the immune cells that get suppressed by cancer. CoQ10 restores theirability to fight back and attack cancer cells. Like vitamin C, it’s also apowerful antioxidant that blocks free radicals from damaging yourDNA.

Besides helping to prevent cancer, there are many clinical trials inwhich CoQ10 helps heal people who already have cancer. In one, researchers in Denmark studieda group of breast cancer patients. They gave them CoQ10, plus a combination ofother antioxidants and essential fatty acids. 

The entire group had a partial remission of the cancer. Two of thepatients received larger doses of CoQ10 (390 mg) and their tumorsdisappeared.7 In no way am I saying stop your cancer treatment and onlytake CoQ10. What I am showing you is the power of this important nutrient againstcancer.

The best way to get CoQ10 is by eating red meat fromgrass-fed animals. Grain-fed meat is not a good source of CoQ10. If you want tosupplement, the form you get is very important. I recommend 50 mg of theubiquinone form, which is 8 times stronger and is better absorbed than the oldform.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD




1 David, A. Rosalie, Zimmerman, Michael R.,"Cancer: an old disease, a new disease or something in between?" Nature ReviewsCancer Oct. 2010;728-733
2 Nicolette, Matthew L., et al, "Mre11–Rad50–Xrs2 and Sae2 promote 5′strand resection of DNA double-strand breaks,"
 Nature Structural & Molecular Biology Oct. 2010; 17: 1478–1485
3 Lappe, et al, “Vitamin D Status in a Rural Postmenopausal Female Population,”
 Journal of the AmericanCollege of Nutrition 2006; 25(5):395-402
4 Garland, et al, “Vitamin D and prevention of
 breast cancer:Pooled analysis,” Journal of SteroidBiochemistry and Molecular Biology 2005; 97(1-2):179-94
5 Gorham, et al, “Optimal Vitamin D Status for Colorectal Cancer Prevention: AQuantitative Meta-Analysis,”
 AmericanJournal of Preventive Medicine,32(3):210-216
6 Giovanucci, et al, “
Prospective Study of Predictors of Vitamin D Status and Cancer Incidence and Mortality inMen,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2006; 98(7):451-459
7 Lockwood, K., Moesgaard, S., Folkers, K., “Partial and complete regression ofbreast cancer in patients in relation to dosage of coenzyme Q10,”
 Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. March30, 1994;199 (3):1504-8



Terry on Oct 15th 2010
Medical News Today


Why was cancer detected in only one in a few hundred Egyptianmummies? Why is there such scarce reference to cancer in ancient Greek orEgyptian texts? A study carried out by researchers from the University ofManchester, England and published in Nature suggests that cancer, especiallycancer among children and young adults is not simply due to our living longerthese days – it must be a man-made disease. The scientists say theirs is “thefirst histological diagnosis of cancer in an Egyptian mummy”.

Investigators at Manchester University’s KNH Centrefor Biomedical Egyptology say their study proves that during the Egyptianmummies’ time, cancer was extremely rare. After investigating hundreds ofmummies, they came across just one case of cancer – worldwide only two caseshave ever been detected. Incidence of cancer, especially childhood cancerexploded after the Industrial Revolution.

Professor Rosalie David, at Manchester University’s Faculty ofLife Sciences, said:

In industrialized societies, cancer is second only to cardiovasculardisease as a cause of death. But in ancient times, it was extremely rare. Thereis nothing in the natural environment that can cause cancer. So it has to be aman-made disease, down to pollution and changes to our diet and lifestyle.

The important thing about our study is that it gives a historicalperspective to this disease. We can make very clear statements on the cancerrates in societies because we have a full overview. We have looked atmillennia, not one hundred years, and have masses of data.

Professor Michael Zimmerman, a visiting professor at the KNH Centre,made the first ever histological diagnosis of cancer in an Egyptian mummy. Themummy was said to be an ordinary person, from the Ptolemaic period.

Zimmerman said:

In an ancient society lacking surgical intervention, evidence of cancershould remain in all cases. The virtual absence of malignancies in mummies mustbe interpreted as indicating their rarity in antiquity, indicating that cancercausing factors are limited to societies affected by modern industrialization.

The investigators examined literary evidence from ancient Greece and Egypt,as well as mummified remains from ancient Egypt. They also carried outmedical examinations of animal and human remains further back in history, asfar back as the period of the dinosaurs.

They found that:

* According to animal, non-human primates, and early human remains and fossilevidence, cancer was extremely uncommon. One Edmontosaurus fossil of unknownprimary origin had evidence of metastatic cancer.

* Virtually all evidence of tumors, which were extremely uncommonanyway, were benign.

* The few malignancies were found were in non-human primates, but noneof them are cancers found in modern adult humans.

Atherosclerosis, Paget’s disease of bone, and osteoporosis did exist in ancientGreece and Egypt –diseases that affect humans when they are older; old enough to develop commonmodern cancers. If humans at that time lived long enough to develop thosediseases, the extreme rarity of cancer cannot be put down to very short lifespans. People in those days lived long enough to develop the cancer adultsdevelop today. Also, there is no evidence of any childhood cancers in ancient Greece or Egypt. Cancer among children isdefinitely much more common today than it was in ancient Greece/Egypt.

Some people have suggested that tumors do not preserve well, soevidence of them disappears over time. However, Zimmerman says mummificationpreservers malignancy features; in fact, it preserves tumors much better thannormal tissue.

Of all the hundreds of mummies examined all over the world, just twohave microscopic evidence of cancer. Radiologists have examined all the mummiesat museums in Cairo and Europeand found no evidence of cancer at all.

Evidence of cancer and medical procedures, such as operations forcancers does not appear until the 17th century, the researchers reveal.Scientific literature depicting distinctive tumors have only been about for thelast 200 years, when data started to be documented about chimney sweeps withscrotal cancer in 1775, nasal cancer in snuff users in 1761, and Hodgkin’sdisease in 1832.

Professor David said:

Where there are cases of cancer in ancient Egyptian remains, we are notsure what caused them. They did heat their homes with fires, which gave offsmoke, and temples burned incense, but sometimes illnesses are just thrown up.

The ancient Egyptian data offers both physical and literary evidence,giving a unique opportunity to look at the diseases they had and the treatmentsthey tried. They were the fathers of pharmacology so some treatments did work.

They were very inventive and some treatments thought of as magical weregenuine therapeutic remedies. For example, celery was used to treat rheumatismback then and is being investigated today. Their surgery and the binding offractures were excellent because they knew their anatomy: there was no taboo onworking with human bodies because of mummification. They were very hands on andit gave them a different mindset to working with bodies than the Greeks, whohad to come to Alexandriato study medicine.

(Conclusion) Yet again extensive ancient Egyptian data, along withother data from across the millennia, has given modern society a clear message– cancer is man-made and something that we can and should address.

“Cancer: an old disease, a new disease or something in between?”
A. Rosalie David & Michael R. Zimmerman

Nature Reviews Cancer 10, 728-733 (October 2010) | doi:10.1038/nrc2914

Global Warming Causes Genetic Changes

For the first time ever, a University of Alberta researcher has discovered that an animal species has changed its genetic make-up to cope with global warming. In the past, organisms have shown the flexibility - or plasticity - to adapt to their surroundings, but this is the first time it has been proven a species has responded genetically to cope with environmental forces.

Dr. Stan Boutin, from the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, has been studying a North American red squirrel population in Canada's southwest Yukon for almost 15 years. The squirrels, faced with increasing spring temperatures and food supply, have advanced the timing of breeding by 18 days over the last 10 years—six days for each generation. His findings appear on First Cite and will appear in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society London B next month.

Boutin and his colleagues used an approach called quantitative genetics, long used in agriculture but never before applied to a wild species. Through analytical modelling, the team of researchers was able to sort out how much of the squirrels' adaptation is due to a plastic, individual response and how much is due to genetics. "This has never been done before," said Boutin. "Other researchers have stopped at plasticity."

Phenotypic plasticity is measured by how an individual squirrel can change the timing of a reproductive cycle from one year to the next compared to one generation to the next, which is what Boutin is studying. "Only by having long-term lineages can we get at this research," he said.

Although this discovery shows the red squirrel is adapting well to its warmer environment, the future is still a concern to scientists especially considering the rapid rate of climate change. Predicting the squirrel's threshold is also impossible, said Boutin, so it is difficult to know if the animal has reached is peak of "adaptation skills." The next step is to look at different components of the genome to see if researchers can pinpoint more closely the set of genes responsible for these changes.

Nanolasers Grown on Silica




This is an important advance thatallows photonic methods to now be integrated directly with well knownelectronic methods on the same chip. Again we leap ahead in the march to advance Moore’s law.

It also brings us closer to apurely optical microprocessor which is surely our present goal.

With that temperature problemsare going to go away and we can imagine producing a three dimensionalarchitecture able to shed heat fast enough. Perhaps then we can have the most powerful computer packed in a gem likestone.

It really is a fantasticachievement well imagined a couple of generations ago and now even in sight.



Engineers Grow Nanolasers On Silicon, Pave Way For On-Chip Photonics

by Staff Writers

Berkeley CA(SPX) Feb 07, 2011


The unique structure of the nanopillars grown by UC Berkeleyresearchers strongly confines light in a tiny volume to enable subwavelengthnanolasers. Images on the left and top right show simulated electric fieldintensities that describe how light circulates helically inside thenanopillars. On the bottom right is an experimental camera image of laser lightfrom a single nanolaser. Credit: Connie Chang-Hasnain Group


Engineers at the University of California,Berkeley, have found a way to grow nanolasers directly onto a silicon surface,an achievement that could lead to a new class of faster, more efficient microprocessorrs,as well as to powerful biochemical sensors that use optoelectronic chips.

They describe their work in a paper to be published Feb. 6 in anadvanced online issue of the journal Nature Photonics.

"Our results impact a broad spectrum of scientific fields,including materials science, transistor technology, laser science,optoelectronics and optical physics," said the study's principalinvestigator, Connie Chang-Hasnain, UC Berkeley professor of electricalengineering and computer sciences.

The increasing performance demands of electronics have sent researchersin search of better ways to harness the inherent ability of light particles tocarry far more data than electrical signals can. Optical interconnects are seenas a solution to overcoming the communications bottleneck within and betweencomputer chips.

Because silicon, the material that forms the foundation of modernelectronics, is extremely deficient at generating light, engineers have turnedto another class of materials known as III-V (pronounced"three-five")semiconductors tocreate light-based components such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs)and lasers.

But the researchers pointed out that marrying III-V with silicon tocreate a single optoelectronic chip has been problematic. For one, the atomicstructures of the two materials are mismatched.

"Growing III-V semiconductor films on silicon is like forcing twoincongruent puzzle pieces together," said study lead author Roger Chen, aUC Berkeley graduate student in electrical engineering and computer sciences."It can be done, but the material gets damaged in the process."

Moreover, the manufacturing industry is set up for the production ofsilicon-based materials, so for practical reasons, the goal has been tointegrate the fabrication of III-V devices into the existing infrastructure, theresearchers said.

"Today's massive silicon electronics infrastructure is extremelydifficult to change for both economic and technological reasons, socompatibility with silicon fabrication is critical," said Chang-Hasnain.

"One problem is that growth of III-V semiconductors hastraditionally involved high temperatures - 700 degrees Celsius or more - thatwould destroy the electronics. Meanwhile, other integration approaches have notbeen scalable."

The UC Berkeley researchers overcame this limitation by finding a wayto grow nanopillars made of indium gallium arsenide, a III-V material, onto asilicon surface at the relatively cool temperature of 400 degrees Celsius.

"Working at nanoscale levels has enabled us to grow high qualityIII-V materials at low temperatures such that silicon electronics can retaintheir functionality," said Chen.

The researchers used metal-organic chemical vapor deposition to growthe nanopillars on the silicon. "This technique is potentially massmanufacturable, since such a system is already used commercially to make thinfilm solar cells and light emitting diodes," said Chang-Hasnain.

Once the nanopillar was made, the researchers showed that it couldgenerate near infrared laser light - a wavelength of about 950 nanometers - at roomtemperature.

The hexagonal geometry dictated by the crystal structure of thenanopillars creates a new, efficient, light-trapping optical cavity. Lightcirculates up and down the structure in a helical fashion and amplifies viathis optical feedback mechanism.

The unique approach of growing nanolasers directly onto silicon couldlead to highly efficient silicon photonics, the researchers said. They notedthat the miniscule dimensions of the nanopillars - smaller than one wavelengthon each side, in some cases - make it possible to pack them into small spaceswith the added benefit of consuming very little energy

"Ultimately, this technique may provide a powerful and new avenuefor engineering on-chip nanophotonic devices such as lasers, photodetectors, modulatorsand solar cells," said Chen.

"This is the first bottom-up integration of III-V nanolasers ontosilicon chips using a growth process compatible with the CMOS (complementarymetal oxide semiconductor) technology now used to make integrated circuits,"said Chang-Hasnain.

"This research has the potential to catalyze an optoelectronicsrevolution in computing, communications, displays and optical signalprocessing. In the future, we expect to improve the characteristics of theselasers and ultimately control them electronically for a powerful marriagebetween photonic and electronic devices."

Circadian Cycle Universal and DNA Independent




The take home here is that aspecific class of proteins in blood maintains a twenty four hour cycle and thishas nothing to do with DNA.

In fact the old mysticism aboutour natural internal cycle been congruent with the ocean, the sun and the moonnow has a scientific basis.  We have nowdetected it and can now track it against all three factors.

We may even find out that thecycle is linked to the new moon.

We are also a reminded that a lotof the simplest things in nature do remain to be discovered.  This could have been figured out a centuryago using the same protocol.


Ancient body clock discovered that helps to keep all living things ontime

13:40 February 5, 2011


A group of Cambridgescientists have successfully identified the mechanism that drives our internal24-hour clock, or circadian rhythm. It occurs not only in human cells, but hasalso been found in other life forms such as algae, and has been dated backmillions of years. Whilst the research promises a better understanding of theproblems associated with shift-work and jet-lag, this mechanism has also beenproven to be responsible for sleep patterns, seasonal shifts and even themigration of butterflies.

The study from the Instituteof Metabolic Science at the University of Cambridge discovered that red bloodcells contain this 24-hour rhythm. In the past, scientists assumed this rhythmcame from DNA and gene activity but unlike most cells, red blood cells do notcontain DNA.

During this study, the Cambridgescientists incubated healthy red blood cells in the dark at body temperaturefor several days, sampling them at regular intervals. It was discovered thatthe levels of peroxiredoxins (proteins that are produced in blood), underwent a24-hour cycle. Virtually all known organisms contain peroxiredoxins.

"The implications of this for health are manifold," saidAkhilesh Reddy, lead author of the study. "We already know that disruptedclocks – for example, caused by shift-work and jet-lag – are associated withmetabolic disorders such as diabetes, mental health problems and even cancer.By furthering our knowledge of how the 24-hour clock in cells works, we hopethat the links to these disorders – and others – will be made clearer. Thiswill, in the longer term, lead to new therapies that we couldn't even havethought about a couple of years ago."

A second study by scientists working together at the Universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge, and the Observatoire Oceanologique inBanyuls, France, identified a similar24-hour rhythm in marine algae. Once again, the scientists held a previousbelief that the circadian clock was driven by gene activity, but both the algaeand the red blood cells proved this theory wrong.

"This groundbreaking research shows that body clocks are ancientmechanisms that have stayed with us through a billion years of evolution,"said Andrew Millar of the Universityof Edinburgh's School of Biological Sciences. "They must be far more importantand sophisticated than we previously realized. More work is needed to determinehow and why these clocks developed in people – and most likely all other livingthings on Earth – and what role they play in controlling our bodies."

The papers "Circadian Clocks in Human Red Blood Cells" and"Circadian Rhythms Persist Without Transcription in a Eukaryote" werepublished on 27th January 2011 in the journal Nature.