Grayheads in prison

❝ Prison populations are shrinking, reflecting a decade-long movement by states to enact policies that reverse corrections growth, contain costs, and keep crime rates low. At the end of 2016, fewer people were held in state and federal prisons than in any year since 2004.

But despite this overall reduction, one group in prisons is surging: older individuals. From 1999 to 2016, the number of people 55 or older in state and federal prisons increased 280 percent. During the same period, the number of younger adults grew merely 3 percent. As a result, older inmates swelled from 3 percent of the total prison population to 11 percent…

❝ Like senior citizens outside prison walls, older individuals in prison are more likely to experience dementia, impaired mobility, and loss of hearing and vision. In prisons, these ailments present special challenges and can necessitate increased staffing levels and enhanced officer training to accommodate those who have difficulty complying with orders from correctional officers. They can also require structural accessibility adaptations, such as special housing and wheelchair ramps.

Additionally, as the Bureau of Justice Statistics found, older inmates are more susceptible to costly chronic medical conditions.

Yup. The cost of warehousing grayheads ain’t as cheap as anyone else the man considers noisy, dangerous.

Same as it ever was


Click to enlarge

This goes along with the “noble savage” school of utopian naturalism. Surviving nature still requires potable water, shelter from the elements – especially in a climate with seasons. Everything you can purchase or rent in civilization you now have to build or provide on your own.

First thing I always remember with images and expressions like this is completing an idyllic couple of weeks hiking through a stunning, isolated region in the highlands of Scotland. I was OK living within the boundaries of carrying everything I needed for protection from the elements + a fair amount of sustenance on my back for that time period.

And a week after I returned to urban America I learned some wandering sheep must have pooped just at the right time upstream in some delightful mountain stream where I filled my water bottle. And I needed another month to recover from a less-than-happy critter named giardia I had consumed – probably in that mountain stream.

I would have been a lot worse off if I wasn’t back in a city with easy access to a physician, etc..

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Food poisoning at food safety conference — Har!

Authorities confirmed that the attendees of the 2014 Food Safety Summit in April were struck by food poisoning. Back in April, NBC reported that authorities had received accounts of more than 100 people who had fallen ill after eating a meal at the conference. At the time, health officials were not sure what caused the outbreak. According to Food Safety News, the illness has been linked to tainted chicken marsala served at lunch.

In total, 216 conference attendees — most of whom are experts in food safety — fell ill after eating the dish which a new report shows was contaminated with C. perfringens…The bacteria causes symptoms like stomach cramps, vomiting, and fever. The outbreak was apparently the first in the summit’s 16-year history.The Food Safety Summit notes in a statement that they are working with the convention center to ensure next year’s event is outbreak (and probably chicken marsala) free.

I’d love to know who was the producer of that delightful chicken.

A follow-up check of the facility didn’t find anything more dangerous than a fridge that dripped a bit of condensate.

Thanks, Mike

Make it to 100 years old and things don’t feel so bad

I’m not certain it’s the yogurt either

Many studies of very old people seem to boil down to this: trying to figure out what they ate, drank and did, so that other people can try to live that long, too. Daniela S. Jopp, an assistant psychology professor at Fordham University, is more interested in how people actually feel once they approach 100.

Younger people can derive lessons from her findings, but beyond that Professor Jopp hopes her research can help the very old lead fulfilling, socially connected lives until the very end…

There is a paradox in the desire to live longer, she said. Many people want to reach an advanced age, but they do not actually want to be that old, she said. Yes, it’s seen as better than the alternative. But over all, “We have a very negative view of very old age,” she said.

Her research gives cause for hope: It shows that once people approach 100, they tend to have a very positive attitude toward life. This is the case even though “they have on average between four and five illnesses, which are pretty disabling and hinder them from doing the things they want to do,” Professor Jopp said. They still have goals, she said, and they are not ready to die just yet. They want to see how the Yankees fare next season or attend the wedding of a grandchild.

This attitude holds true across the socioeconomic spectrum, although having enough money to pay for one’s medications is very important to well-being, she added.

In fact, people 95 and older report higher levels of satisfaction with life than those who are decades younger, Professor Jopp said. She speculates that people in their 60s and 70s have not yet fully adapted to their impairments, whereas the very old have reached a state of acceptance.

Professor Jopp’s observations are based on studies of people in Heidelberg, Germany, and a study she did of 119 very old New Yorkers chosen from voter registries and nursing homes.

She has found that in addition to being optimistic, the very old tend to be extroverted and to exhibit “self-efficacy,” meaning they report feeling in control of their lives. Most of the people in the New York study live within the community, many of them alone, and most greatly value retaining a sense of independence, she said…

Professor Jopp says she hopes her research will help uncover ways to offer better social services for the very old. And she hopes it will open up new avenues for the very old to pass along their insights and knowledge to others. As she puts it: “They have a lot to share — and to contribute to society.”

Yes, there are mornings when I feel like I already am 100. But, that hasn’t anything to do with Phyllis Korkki’s article does it? 🙂

RTFA for some of the interesting anecdotes. I certainly think her conclusions provide some guidance. Above all else I believe in keeping my curiosity about the whole world and science rolling right on through to the end of my life. I’m not likely to change that.

Neither am I to become less of a hermit. I access the world through the Web and any number of sources of communications – as I always have. My presence isn’t needed in a traditional round dance at a facility full of elders. Especially since they aren’t likely to be my peers. I don’t think the good doctor would consider that a contradiction.

I find most folks are a time capsule by the time they reach thirty. They stop learning. And if you stop learning, I don’t think you are well equipped to do a very good job of thinking for yourself either. Perhaps Dr. Jopp’s exceptional centenarians are an exception to that rule as well.

Analysis of multiple studies shows a Mediterranean diet is good for your brain

…The Mediterranean diet has long been associated with improved health and reduced risk of chronic age-related diseases such as heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and dementia. Traditionally, it is comprised of high levels of olive oil as the main source of fats, lots of cereals, nuts, fruits and vegetables, moderate consumption of fish and dairy products, a little meat, and moderate consumption of alcohol, especially wine, usually during meals.

To more closely examine this long-held association, we undertook and recently published the first systematic review looking at the association between the Mediterranean diet and age-related cognitive decline.

Based on twelve reviewed studies, it seems that a diet more closely resembling the Mediterranean diet was associated with better cognitive function and slower cognitive decline. We also found that people adhering more closely to the diet reduced their risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 34%-40%.

An impressive benefit, but how does it work? Many studies have reported the potential of certain nutrients to ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and many of these nutrients are included in the traditional Mediterranean diet.

For example, clinical trials have shown improved cognitive test scores after subjects took vitamins, trace elements, beta carotene andfolic acid supplements. Other studies have presented favourable findings for the role of unsaturated fats and vitamin B-12 consumption. Typical elements of the Mediterranean diet like fruits and vegetables, wine, virgin olive oil and some herbs are rich in these substances, including vitamin C, E, B, carotenoids and flavonoids…

The progression of Alzheimer’s disease has also been linked to inflammation – the olive oil, nuts and oily fish in the Mediterranean diet are powerful sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat (omega-3 fatty acids). These are the “good fats”, all with anti-inflammatory effects. A diet high in saturated fats on the other hand, such as found in butter, animal fats, sweets, and highly processed foods, may be related to impaired cognitive function and dementia by restricting the flow of blood through the arteries, or by the accumulation of β-amyloid proteins in the brain that are the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.

However, the Mediterranean diet is more than eating your five-a-day, drizzling extra virgin olive oil on your salad and avoiding triple chocolate cookies during weekly meetings. It’s a combination of healthy eating habits and behaviours over a long period of time, and studies indicate that its benefits stem from synergistic interactions of its different components. It’s unlikely that any single nutrient accounts for neuroprotective properties – you can’t just, for example, eat more fish and live longer.

Not to be a bore; but – computational analysis rocks! It still is what I would be doing if I was starting out searching for a career path. Possibly in medicine. Certainly in science.

Taking the dozen studies and data mining also suggests the Mediterranean diet affects other age-related chronic conditions: cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Yes, you should walk like a Mediterranean as well as eat like a Mediterranean.

How much does a smoker on the payroll cost? — $5,816


Kissing a smoker is like putting your tongue in an ashtray

A smoker costs a private employer in the United States an extra $5,816 per year compared with a nonsmoker, according to an analysis of data collected from earlier studies on the costs of smoking.

Researchers at The Ohio State University estimated that the largest cost, at $3,077 annually, came from taking smoking breaks. Smokers took, on average, about five breaks a day, compared with the three breaks typically sanctioned for most workers.

The second largest cost, at $2,056, was related to excess health care expenses. Smokers typically have more health problems than nonsmokers, including heart and lung disease and various cancers.

The remaining costs came from increased absenteeism — the researchers found that smokers miss about two-and-a-half extra workdays each year — and lost productivity at work, perhaps because of nicotine’s withdrawal effects. The findings appeared online in June in the journal Tobacco Control.

“We certainly encourage businesses to provide smoking cessation programs. At least for large companies, it’s highly likely to save them money over time,” said Micah Berman, an assistant professor of public health and law at Ohio State and lead author of the analysis.

That’s only direct costs, of course. Secondhand and thirdhand smoke aren’t factored into the cost equation at all. The damage done to non-smoking employees by smokers.

New way suggested to prevent muscle loss, obesity and diabetes


Professor Ravi Kambadur

A research study from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has yielded important breakthroughs on how the body loses muscle, paving the way for new treatments for aging, obesity and diabetes.

The study found that by inhibiting a particular molecule produced naturally in the body, muscle loss due to aging or illnesses can be prevented. Blocking the same molecule will also trigger the body to go into a ‘fat-burning mode’ which will fight obesity and also treat the common form of diabetes.

The exciting discoveries have led NTU scientists to embark on joint clinical research with local hospitals to further validate their findings which were previously carried out on animals…

Associate Professor Ravi Kambadur and his team from the NTU School of Biological Sciences found that a protein called Myostatin, which controls muscle cell growth, is responsible for initiating muscle loss.

When excess levels of Myostatin is bound to a muscle cell, it induces heavy loss of mitochondria (the part of the cell responsible for energy production that keeps a cell alive), which in turn causes the muscle cell to waste or lose muscle tissue (atrophy) due to the ‘lack of energy’.

Under normal healthy conditions, small loss of Mitochondria is needed for the regeneration of new cells, but when a patient is suffering from chronic diseases or is bedridden (and muscles are not used often), this process is disrupted due to high levels of myostatin which results in increased mitochondrial loss and muscle atrophy…

Apart from regulating the growth and loss of muscle, myostatin also regulates whether the body will burn fat or carbohydrates during fasting and meal times.

Blocking myostatin keeps the body in “fat-burning mode” and promotes muscle growth at the same time — which could potentially make obesity a thing of the past.

Because obesity is one of the main causes of the most common form of diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, blocking myostatin could also treat diabetes. In the US, 90 to 95 per cent of diabetes cases are Type 2, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cripes – this sounds like it might even work on a cranky old geek like me.

Note to self: Keep an eye on this one. Bother your doctor about it.

Nearly 1,000 busted in China’s latest adulterated food scandal

Chinese authorities have arrested 989 people accused of making and selling clenbuterol, blamed in a recent tainted-pork scandal, an official said Monday.

Xu Hu, a senior official in the Ministry of Public Security, said the arrests came after police busted a criminal ring involved in the manufacture and sale of clenbuterol in 63 cities nationwide, Xinhua reported. The illegal drug is used as an additive in pig feed to help burn fat and make pork meat leaner but is poisonous to people consuming the tainted meat…

The clenbuterol-tainted pork scandal, which came to light in March, has heightened consumer concern across the country, forcing authorities to come down hard on violators. The scandal is one of the latest in a string of cases that have raised serious questions about the safety and reliability of Chinese food and other products, and have hurt China’s image overseas.

Xu said in the latest crackdown police seized 2.75 tons of clenbuterol and closed six illegal laboratories, 12 production lines, 19 processing and storage sites and 32 “underground” factories, Xinhua said.

The Chinese government should stop sitting around waiting for a reincarnation of Upton Sinclair to visit a manifestation of national and global anger over adulterated food.

Sending a couple thousand coppers in to bag sleazy operators is what you have to do when you haven’t a useful, productive level of regulatory bureaucrats – in the best meaning of the word. That’s more than overdue.