A 143-Ton Fatberg is Clogging a London Sewer

❝ An 820 foot long fatberg has been found blocking a sewer in East London, and it is taking a lot of man power to get it out of the way.

The fatberg, a solid mass of congealed fat, wet wipes, diapers, oil, and condoms was found in a Victorian-era tunnel in Whitechapel. The Thames Water company said it was the largest they had ever seen and estimated the removal time at three weeks.

The fatberg weighs about 143 tons and is 820 feet long. For reference, that’s 20 feet longer than London’s Tower Bridge. It’s also about the same weight as a blue whale, earth’s largest animal.

❝ Matt Rimmel, the head of the Thames Water’s waste network, expressed his shock at the fatberg and reminded everyone of how easily-avoided they are. Most fatbergs are caused by people putting things down their sinks and toilets that should be thrown in the garbage.

“It’s frustrating, as these situations are totally avoidable and caused by fat, oil, and grease being washed down sinks and wipes flushed down the loo,” he said.

This is not how you keep Britain tidy!

Fentanyl Passes Heroin as Leading Cause of U.S. Drug Deaths

Drug overdoses killed roughly 64,000 people in the United States last year, according to the first governmental account of nationwide drug deaths to cover all of 2016. It’s a staggering rise of more than 22 percent over the 52,404 drug deaths recorded the previous year — and even higher than The New York Times’s estimate in June, which was based on earlier preliminary data.

Drug overdoses are expected to remain the leading cause of death for Americans under 50, as synthetic opioids — primarily fentanyl and its analogues — continue to push the death count higher. Drug deaths involving fentanyl more than doubled from 2015 to 2016, accompanied by an upturn in deaths involving cocaine and methamphetamine. Together they add up to an epidemic of drug overdoses that is killing people at a faster rate than the H.I.V. epidemic at its peak…

The explosion in fentanyl deaths and the persistence of widespread opioid addiction have swamped local and state resources. Communities say their budgets are being strained by the additional needs — for increased police and medical care, for widespread naloxone distribution and for a stronger foster care system that can handle the swelling number of neglected or orphaned children.

It’s an epidemic hitting different parts of the country in different ways. People are accustomed to thinking of the opioid crisis as a rural white problem, with accounts of Appalachian despair and the plight of New England heroin addicts. But fentanyls are changing the equation: The death rate in Maryland last year outpaced that in both Kentucky and Maine.

Monthly provisional reporting looks like things are only getting worse. Too bad it doesn’t get through to a government more concerned with crushing expanded healthcare for Americans.

How do you handle an unhinged president

❝ …Trump’s tweets reveal a leader who is compulsive, abusive and easily triggered. Trump describes all this as “modern day presidential.” Lincoln had his Gettysburg Address. Franklin Roosevelt had his Four Freedoms. But modern schoolchildren will learn the Mika bloody face-lift tweet.

What we are witnessing is not a new age in presidential communications. It is an ongoing public breakdown. And the question naturally arises: Is this the result of mental dysfunction?

❝ Most psychiatrists are (understandably) uncomfortable with diagnosing from a distance. And the particular diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder requires significant impairment — which is a hard case to make of a figure at the pinnacle of American politics…

❝ Much of the prudence and courage required to confront this problem will need to come from Republicans and conservatives. Where to start? How about refusing to play down revolting lunacy?

❝ Trump’s conservative defenders are attempting something extraordinary: to politically normalize abnormal psychology. Their sycophancy enables a sickness.

RTFA for more analysis and commentary. Informative. Not sure if it aids your own sanity in this useless fake-governing episode we seem to be stuck into.

Latest HPV vaccine can prevent most cervical cancers

For women, cervical cancer is the fourth most widespread cancer, and in developing countries it is the most common cause of cancer death. A new study from researchers at Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital and the Victorian Cytology Service has found that a new HPV vaccine could prevent up to 93 percent of all cervical cancers.

❝ For some time now we have known that infection with the Human papillomavirus (HPV) is necessary for a woman to develop cervical cancer. There are up to 200 types of HPV, but the majority of cases (75 percent) of cervical cancers are thought to be caused by one of two types – HPV 16 and 18. The current quadrivalent HPV vaccine in use, Gardasil, protects against those two key types of HPV.

In their recent study researchers looked at 847 cervical cancer samples from Australian women. The goal was to study what types of HPV were most prevalent in causing cervical cancer. Not unexpectedly, 77 percent of the samples showed HPV 16 or 18, while another 16 percent of cancers showed five other common HPV types (31, 33, 45, 52 and 58).

❝ These other common HPV types are included in this latest vaccine to be developed, called Gardasil 9. The vaccine was approved for use in the US in late 2014, and in Australia it is hoped to become part of the National HPV Vaccination Program as soon as next year.

Most significant comment is from the study’s study’s senior author Professor Suzanne Garland. “I do believe that if we continue with this high coverage of vaccination, we could almost wipe out cervical cancer in women.”

Bravo.

Does sugar make you sad?


AP Photo/Kathy Willens

❝ Lately, the science has really been stacking up evidence against consuming sugars in excess.

In addition to being linked to conditions like obesity, diabetes, inflammatory diseases, eating high levels of sugar has been associated with mental illnesses like depression. In a study published July 27 in Scientific Reports that followed over 8,000 adults over 22 years, researchers from University College London found that men who reported consuming foods that contained 67 grams of sugar per day or more were 23% more likely to be diagnosed with clinical depression after five years from when the study began.

❝ For their work, researchers followed the a cohort called the Whitehall Study II, which tracked health and stress data for civil servants aged 35 to 55 in London beginning in 1985. Every few years, participants filled out surveys about their diets and other markers of health—including whether or not they had been clinically diagnosed with mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. Participants didn’t have any mental illnesses diagnosed to start, and researchers used their food questionnaires to estimate how much sugar each person was eating per day.

❝ After the first five-year follow up, men who ate the most sugar, which the authors categorize as 67 grams or more per day—almost twice the amount of sugar intake recommended by the American Heart Association, and roughly three and a half regular sized Snickers bars—had higher rates of mental health diagnoses than those who ate less sugar, regardless of whether or not they were overweight. Even during years when participants reported eating less sugar, levels of mental illness stayed the same, which suggests that previous sugar habits had led to depression or anxiety and not the other way around. In this study, the relationship between sugar and mental illness wasn’t well-defined among women.

And the news didn’t get better.

RTFA for more details. No one’s saying eating sugar melts your brain. Yet. Laying the groundwork for illness is what any part of the whole of mediocre/lousy nutrition establishes.

Chronic Brain Disease found in ~90% of brains donated by deceased football players

Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.

It’s the largest update on chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a debilitating brain disease that can cause a range of symptoms including memory loss.

The report doesn’t confirm that the condition is common in all football players; it reflects high occurrence in samples at a Boston brain bank that studies CTE. Many donors or their families contributed because of the players’ repeated concussions and troubling symptoms before they died…

The strongest scientific evidence says CTE can only be diagnosed by examining brains after death, although some researchers are experimenting with tests performed on the living. Many scientists believe repeated blows to the head increase risks for developing CTE, leading to progressive loss of normal brain matter and an abnormal buildup of a protein called tau. Combat veterans and athletes in rough contact sports like football and boxing are among those thought to be most at risk.

RTFA. There have been a couple times in my life when friends or family with sound experience in medicine suggested I turn down a work opportunity. Early on – folks made tempting offers to me if I would consider football as a serious path to education and lots of money further on. Even though my closest friend had initially gotten to college on a football scholarship he advised me against it. Just too many chances for a lifetime injury.

Glad I took his advice.

Yup, we have an opioid overdose crisis — & cigarettes kill 15 X more people

❝ Cigarettes still kill nearly half a million people in the US each year — 15 times the death toll from the opioid crisis. That’s also more than alcohol, car accidents, AIDS, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined.

❝ Thanks to tobacco taxes and cigarette bans, the smoking rate in America has declined dramatically — from around 32 percent in the 1980s to 15 percent today. But over the past couple of years, the smoking prevalence here hasn’t budged while rates have continued to drop in other rich countries like the UK and Canada. Australia has even managed to reduce its smoking rate to an all-time low of 13 percent…

❝ Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration announced a new initiative that could — if it pans out — drive down the US smoking rate much, much further. Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the FDA, said the agency plans to set new, much lower limits on the amount of nicotine in tobacco, essentially forcing companies to reengineer cigarettes so they’ll be less addictive…

Given who owns most of Congress, this will take years.

❝ In the meantime, though, there are many other policies the US could pursue to bring down the smoking rate. Adding graphic picture health warnings to cigarette packs or ratifying the UN’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control are among a couple of measures America hasn’t put in place even though hundreds of other countries have. So while the new nicotine announcement is a real public health power move, we’re still missing some tobacco control basics.

Other countries have proven that just making cigarette packaging plain deters smoking.

❝ …More than 100 countries around the world have added gruesome pictures of the health effects of cigarettes on packs. (The most recent review of the research suggests the graphical warnings are more effective than text-only warnings at curbing the appeal of smoking.)…

The US hasn’t updated the health warnings on packs in 32 years

While our erstwhile voices of the people mostly blather about what a great job they’re doing fighting on our behalf – just might be time for you to call or write or email your Congress-critter and tell them to actually do something quick and easy to help keep more of us alive.