Word of the Day: Telomere

January 28, 2010

Telomeres

Telomeres are the little white ends

What if I told you one of the most important words in your health vocabulary should be telomere.  Let me give you a quick definition and you should immediately understand what I am talking about.  A telomere is the end of a chromosome. These specialized structures are involved in the replication and stability of linear DNA molecules.

Wait….what?

In all seriosness, anti aging experts now believe that telomeres may be the key to staying young and more importantly staying healthy.  What the experts now know is when the telomere shortens the cell it is living in dies.  This is important in that cell death can lead to serious disease as well as pre mature aging.

The experts are now focusing creating therapies to lengthen already shortened telomeres or even better yet, how to prevent them from shortening in the first place.

What have they found works well in preventing telomere shortening….Exercise.  Research shows that people who exercise have less erosion of their telomeres than people who are healthy but are not very active.

Last post I encouraged people to get out and vote.  This post I am encouraging you to just plain get out and get moving….your telomeres are depending on it.


Marijuana May Cause Cancer

June 24, 2009

There has been a long held belief that marijuana, while known to cause certain conditions, did not cause cancer. A ruling from California and a latest study are challenging that belief.

The state of California recently added marijuana smoke to the list of chemicals that regulators claim causes cancer. A spokesman for the state said that says the state agency found marijuana (cannabis) smoke contains 33 of the same harmful chemicals as tobacco smoke. Where many studies have shown that tobacco smoke damages DNA in a way that boosts risk for lung and other cancers, until now, it’s been unclear whether cannabis smoke could do the same.

Quick physiology lesson. Cancer is any malignant growth or tumor caused by abnormal and uncontrolled cell division. See when a healthy cell DNA divides everything is cool, when a cell DNA divides abnormally, there is now a problem.

A recent study by Scientists at the University of Leicester contends that marijuana (cannabis) smoke alters DNA, the genetic material located in cells of the human body. Some forms of DNA damage can lead to cancer.

Using newer chemistry techniques, researchers showed that a dangerous chemical, acetaldehyde, is now found in marijuana smoke. It was previously thought that it was only found in tobacco smoke. In a lab setting this chemical caused DNA damage.

The discovery suggests that marijuana smoke may be as harmful, or perhaps even more toxic, than tobacco smoke. In fact, study researchers say that smoking three to four marijuana cigarettes a day causes as much airway damage as smoking 20 or more cigarettes a day.

The state of Massachusetts recently “decriminalized” marijuana. If you get caught with less than an ounce, you get a fine, much like a building code infraction. Where I work with an eclectic group of people, including a lot of 18-24 year olds, I asked them if this decriminalization would make it more likely they would smoke pot.

For the most part people said they wouldn’t change their habits, based whether or not it was decriminalized. These same people did believe, however, that smoking marijuana was not that bad for you.

If you smoke pot or have a friend, child, etc., make sure they take a look at this article. They may be doing more harm to themselves than they think.

The findings of the study I mention above appear in this month’s issue of Chemical Research in Toxicology.


Can the Court Force You Into Care?

May 20, 2009

An interesting article came out today about a 13 year old boy who, due to religious beliefs, is refusing chemotherapy.

His parents believe in natural care and do not want to expose him to chemotherapy. He had one treatment and didn’t return for follow ups. According to the article the mom is treating the boy with herbal supplements, ionized water, vitamins and other natural alternatives.

The question here is, does the court have a right to force an underage child to receive medical care? What if people want to try a different method of treatment?

Where this gets sticky is he is a minor. If this were an adult then it is a no brainer, you get to treat yourself how you want.

Let’s assume that the court is operating with the best of intentions, for sure they don’t want to see anyone get hurt. My question is this: who gets to decide what is and isn’t medical neglect. If a person chooses not to vaccinate their children, has researched it and came to their own conclusions, are they guilty of neglect?

What about the person that feeds their kids McDonalds 6 times a week, are they being neglectful?

While I applaud anyone who doesn’t want to see kids get hurt, we are starting down a slippery slope of judging what people believe.

If you want to read the whole article you can see it here