Saturday, February 25, 2012

Heart Attacks, Beer and Bis-phenol A

BPA is found in canned beer. It is extracted
from the aluminum can's lining. 
Bis-phenol A, prominently used in beer cans and other food cans, continues to suffer bad health reports.   90% of the world's population has bis phenol A in their blood. Isn't that amazing?

It is increasing likely that this common, cheap, and durable chemical will soon be banned from food contact.

Circulation, the Heart Association Journal, published a report from a University of Exeter group showing that 756 people with coronary disease had relatively high BPA in their blood. High being 1.3 nanogram/milliliter in the blood. This result was significant at 97.3%. (It continues to amaze me how sensitive these tests are.)

When they controlled for all the standard cardiac risk factors, the trend was present at only 94.2%. Still convincing to me, but hard-core statistic geeks and their lawyers will disregard this result since it is less than 95%.

On the other hand, bis-phenol A compounds are pretty stable, and until now the most important medical effect was weak estrogen mimicking. (Meaning that it acted like estrogen in very high doses, causing early puberty in girls and low sperm counts.)

Bis phenol A is used in zillions of things, but most notably in the lining of food cans. Until recently it was used in clear re-usable plastic containers made from polycarbonate, but this has stopped in the US and Canada.  Here are three previous posts, click here and here and here on the estrogen effect.

More diabetes and liver enzyme changes were shown too, but the proof was not that strong.

The mode of action of the bis phenol A may be interaction with the BK ion channel, which transports potassium and calcium in smooth muscle cells; there is speculation about effects via the liver and via the aforementioned estrogen mimic effect.

Glass bottles are best.
So what does this mean? It probably means the packaging industry will be more motivated to convert to BPA-free alternatives to avoid crippling lawsuits.

Maybe you should start buying frozen vegetables instead of canned. Buying food in pouches instead of cans is a good idea too.

I am going to buy my beer in glass bottles.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hybrid & Electric Sales Down Again in January 2012

Perhaps American sense they don't need to conserve fuel, and that it why they are buying more conventional cars and fewer hybrids.

In the popular imagination oil is running out, and gas will increase in price forever. However they buying public is not acting that way. Hybrid sales were down 30% from last year. All electric cars were down 40%, and the GM Volt was down 60%, probably on news on battery fires on improperly discharged batteries.

I actually have two hybrid vehicles, and I think they are a better way to build a car, but they cost too much, and probably still have not paid me back -- unless you count their higher resale value. 

Toyota is the giant of hybrid manufacturing. (Source)

I believe the poor economy is making people buy cheaper cars, and that cheaper cars cost more to run over the long haul. Of coarse, $4.50/gal gas may be coming. It seems that every time the economy hints that it might be getting stronger oil speculators run the price of oil up by $5/barrel. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Alternative Medicine

Alternative medicine are treatments the derive from folk traditions not from modern medicine. Modern medicine is the observation-based approach sometimes credited with starting in Paris about 1796 and developing further during the French Revolution, but which has a long history into Renaissance times.

Today's medicine resides in medical schools and pharma companies. The interface between medical schools and pharma companies is problematic. The interface between Alternative medicine providers and their herbs + treatments is also problematic. Medicine providers fund themselves by selling treatments, and ineffective treatments can cost as much as effective ones.

It is too simple to say that modern medicine is better than alternative medicine because modern medicine keeps trying to incorporate parts of alternative medicine. I was surprised to see there were 72 postings in the last year on Science Daily's Alternative Medicine site, which usually feature popularizations of journal research. When academic research embraces a folk medicine treatment, it become both modern medicine and alternative medicine, for example, acupuncture reduces dry mouth side effects of drugs.

My big problem with alternative medicine is that people with serious illness can take unproven and probably ineffective treatment, when an effective conventional treatment is available.

What makes this worse is growing distrust of science spread started by anti-evolution advocates, pushed ahead by tobacco companies, and now spreading to climate change deniers.  In this environment, it is too easy to cast away valuable science-based medicine and embrace the folksy.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Running Shoe Review 2.0

It has been two and half years since I reviewed shoes, and I have a few new pairs to talk about.

The first running shoe is not really a shoe at all. I confess I have run only a few minutes in it since it hurts my feet.

I think these five toes shoes are a fad.
They are Vibram FiveFingers Bikila shoes. They are kind of funny looking, and I think they might be OK for walking outside. When I run in them, my plantar tendon hurts.

They are also hard to put on.

I like the look of these Nike Flywires. I got them so I could use the Nike pedometer that talks to my iPod. That worked pretty well.

The shoes were great for a while, but they insole wore quickly, and I did not get a lot of wear from them.

I like the soles of these too. My favorite running shoes have heels with the rubber around the outside, and a hole in the middle. The idea is the foot holds weight better on its edges.


Next up are my current running shoes. They are Nike Lunarglide +3 with the Lance Armstrong Livestrong colors.

I like these shoes pretty well. Even though they look just like the Nike Flywires, they are really comfortable,

don't show signs of wearing out yet.


Last are my Adidas Swyft Cushions. They are quite light, and seldom hurt my feet.

They remind me of my old Adidas Electras,

Adidas has been making this basic shoe for several years, and changing it a bit cosmetically.  They are a pretty good shoe, so why change it?

I like them because of their oversized heel. Thoughout all the problems with my hip and feet, these shoes always felt pretty good. For some reason, I don't give them any respect.