Recently in Health + Wellness Category

If so, I encourage you to attend the premiere, on U-Mich campus, of a new film: Life is for the Living, a documentary about the people, the politics and the science of stem cell research. It will be shown on March 12 at the Michigan Theater (603 E. Liberty St.) at 7:30 pm.

The film has added relevance as Michigan will be voting on a stem cell ballot initiative this fall.

The film includes the stories of five American families living with the painful realities of Juvenile Diabetes, Parkinson’s, and Spinal Cord Injury.

It is in the context of the statewide ballot initiative in Michigan this fall and the national debate over embryonic stem cell research.

As that debate continues in Washington and across the country, three generations of Americans reveal their challenges, their frustration with the President’s policy, and the hope that more funding for embryonic stem cell research will lead to new treatments and cures to relieve their suffering and save their lives.

Life is for the Living also explores the science behind stem cell research and the political debate taking place across the nation.

The film includes an introduction by CBS 60 Minutes' Mike Wallace and interviews with the nation's leading scientific researchers, political leaders, and advocates.

Here's a partial list of those who are in the documentary:

  • The Honorable Janet Reno, Former United States Attorney General
  • Senator Carl Levin (D-MI)
  • Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm
  • Congressman Michael Castle (R-DE)
  • Former Congressman Joe Schwarz (R-MI)
  • Dr. Sean Morrison, Director, University of Michigan Center for Stem Cell Biology
  • Dr. Clive Svendsen, University of Wisconsin Madison
  • Dr. David T. Scadden, Co-Director, Harvard Stem Cell Institute
  • Dr. Stuart H. Orkin, Chair, Department of Pediatric Oncology, Harvard Medical School
  • Dr. Amy Wagers, Harvard Stem Cell Institute
  • Dr. Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, University of Utah School of Medicine
  • Dr. Robert Lanza, VP Research, Advanced Cell Technology

Again, if you are in the area tomorrowthis evening, March 12, go see Life is for the Living at 7:30 pm at the Michigan Theater.

P.S. Oh and one more thing: the filmmaker, Michael Rubyan, is my son. He's 20 and a junior at U-M. I couldn't be prouder of him!

Laughter isn't the best medicine. It's the only medicine.

Get Well Soon.
June 29th.

Chinese Takeout

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Why should any American buy any food made in China?

We don’t know what’s in it; it goes mostly unscreened by anyone. We know that a number of producers spike it with poisons and antibiotics to make it more profitable. This has been going on for years and when they were caught spiking food with urea and food began to be screened for that poison, they simply switched to a new one; melamine.

So far, poisoned foods we have discovered through the deaths of possibly thousands of our pets include wheat gluten and rice protein. We have found catfish imported from China to be illegally contaminated with antibiotics. Dried fruit laden with cancer causing chemicals, mushrooms laced with illegal pesticides and seafood coated with putrefying bacteria.

As it turns out, it is standard procedure for Chinese food manufacturers to put poison in our food and, if caught, find another way to get those poisoned foods into US markets.

Did you know that nearly all vitamins sold in the United States are made in China (they priced domestic manufacturers out of the business)? Did you know that they go virtually untested for their contents in the US?

The FDA has no means to solve this problem through inspections and testing and the US government has little pressure to bring to bear on the Chinese since, thanks to Republican fiscal policy, the Chinese essentially own the US government. The Bush administration is actually deregulating the importation of Chinese poultry products, possibly increasing the risk of avian flu.

Industry, the much-vaunted free market, won’t protect you from toxic products because there’s a lot of money to be made in Chinese markets. And, besides, when has the health or safety of consumers been much of an obstacle when it comes to making a buck?

However, there is one remedy for US consumers in the power of the marketplace: stop buying Chinese made food. First, you won’t have to worry about whether you are feeding your family toxic substances. Second, the economic effect of a significant boycott will quickly force the Chinese to find ways to guarantee the safety of their exports. One thing is certain: if you do nothing, nothing will be done to protect the safety of imported food.

As much as is practical, buy locally – it’s also better for the environment. Buy domestically produced seafood and meat. In processed foods that contain wheat, rice or corn gluten, ask the grocer and/or manufacturer if it was purchased from China – if they can’t tell you or the answer is “yes”, tell them you’ll buy something else. For a while, at least, stop buying vitamins – they are of dubious value anyway if you have a well-balanced diet.

Find your local farmer’s markets. Buy organic. Whenever you can, when it comes to what you put in your body and feed to your loved ones, buy American.

If you don’t take action to protect yourself and your families, don’t expect government or industry to do it for you. At least, until it’s too late.

Salon's Andrew O'Hehir reviews Michael Moore's newest, Sicko, and comes away impressed:

When Americans do get to see "Sicko," Moore says, "They will understand that this was about helping 9/11 rescue workers who've been abandoned by the government. They're not going to focus on Cuba or Fidel Castro or any other nonsense coming out of the Bush White House. They're going to say: 'You're telling me that al-Qaida prisoners get better medical treatment than the people who tried to recover bodies from the wreckage at ground zero?'"
Hmmm. Wonder how they'll spin that?

Oh -- and the part about Moore, a right-wing blogger and his cancer-stricken wife will blow your mind. But you'll have to read that part for yourself.

"I hope this film engenders discussion, not just about healthcare, but about why we are the way we are these days," Moore told us. "Where is our soul? Why would we allow 50 million Americans, 9 million of them children, not to have health insurance? Maybe my role as a filmmaker is to go down a road we might be afraid to go down, because it might lead to a dark place."
Dark but entertaining for sure.
When Moore interviews Tony Benn, a leading figure on the British left, his larger concerns come into focus. Benn argues that for-profit healthcare and the other instruments of the corporate state, like student loans and bottomless credit-card debt, perform a crucial function for that state. They undermine democracy by creating a docile and hardworking population that is addicted to constant debt and an essentially unsustainable lifestyle, that literally cannot afford to quit jobs or take time off, that is more interested in maintaining high incomes than in social or political change. Moore seizes on this insight and makes it a kind of central theme...
I haven't seen the film yet, and/but I have a concern here. If Moore presents this as a shadow-policy, coordinated at the highlest levels, I'm skeptical because everyone knows no one is in charge. But that's a minor point. Either way you cut it, it's a devastating observation.

So I guess this film is going to rile people up. There is certainly something in Moore that brings out the worst in right-wing Bush apologists. They just go...nuts when he pops up on the radar. Of course, maybe there's not so many of them left and the few-and-far-between might finally have learned how to control themselves by now.

As far as the accuracy of my movies goes, [says Moore] I think the record speaks for itself. Maybe people will say: He warned us about General Motors, he warned us about school shootings and he warned us about Bush.
Crikey. This'll definitely drive them around the bend.

I can hardly wait!

Insurance is for Catastrophe

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by shep

Quite obviously, American insurance-industry-run heathcare is a failure teetering on collapse. It is completely unavailable to nearly one-sixth of the population and only tentatively available to everyone else, except for the wealthy. Employer-paid health insurance, the most accessible form of healthcare for most people, now drives our decisions about who we work for, who in the family works and whether we can afford to change jobs. People are regularly denied access to heathcare, because they are sick.

The system is poorly regulated, either by industry or government. 100,000 people die from medical mistakes in hospitals alone. The average cost for drugs is two to four times higher than in other industrialized countries and also injures and kills many thousands. The real regulator and last recourse for those who are harmed by the actions of insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and/or doctors is a widely-reviled tort system that siphons off huge amounts of money (in addition to the huge amounts siphoned-off by insurance companies themselves) that should be being spent on medical care.

Yet, our system is monstrously expensive compared to other industrialized countries. It severely undermines US competitiveness in world markets. As technology and our collective average age continues to advance, it is predicted that more people will be driven from the system, healthcare will have to be (even more) rationed, its cost will bankrupt the government, or all of the above. It also, due to the short-term profit motives of insurance companies, becomes ever more expensive because people don’t have easy access to wellness or preventative primary care that might help them avoid costly disease.

Our market-driven healthcare system is literally killing us. Only those whose thinking is corrupted by simple-minded market ideology remain committed to such a system and only the fact that our elected officials are beholden to the status quo industries’ campaign cash explains why we haven’t abandoned it for a rational alternative. Here are five critical things that we need to fix our current system that a market-based, insurance industry approach can never achieve:

1) Pool risk and cost as broadly as possible, creating the lowest average cost per person for healthcare.

2) Allow for a simple administrative system with a single point of contact, one set of rules and one processing system.

3) Create a level competitive marketplace for all healthcare providers.

4) Allow for an emphasis on cost-saving wellness, preventative and primary care.

5) Give the public-at-large control over the specific features of the healthcare system through their elected representatives.

We will be forced to adopt a government-administered single-payer system of some sort eventually, like every other industrialized nation on earth. The question now is only how much more human suffering and how many more $billions we will waste on the current industry-run system.

Next: what a government-administered single-payer system might look like, including the role for insurance providers (actually, I’ve already given that one away).

(Cross-posted at Queen Of All Evil)

Update: OK, I realize that saying healthcare, “is completely unavailable to nearly one-sixth of the population,” is a bit of hyperbole. What I am talking about is the entire system: primary care, specialists, screening, wellness, etc. If waiting until you're sick enough to wait four to eight hours to be seen in an emergency room and then being sued by the hospital and having your credit destroyed does it for you…

In an eye-opening survey, Gallup has found that voters expect (and would approve of) Democrats doing the following things if they take over Congress on November 7:

  • Set a time-table for withdrawal of US troops from Iraq
  • Increase the minimum wage
  • Pass legislation to provide healthcare to those who do not have it
  • Allow Americans to buy prescription drugs from other countries
Similarly, voters do NOT expect Democrats to do the following, nor would they approve if they did:
  • Repeal the Patriot Act
  • Take steps to make same-sex marriages legal
  • Cut back on efforts to fight terrorism
Voters expect Democrats to do the following, but they do NOT approve of these actions:
  • Reject most of Bush's nominations for federal judges
  • Increase federal income taxes.
Lastly, voters do NOT expect Democrats to do the following, but would approve if they did:
  • Implement all anti-terror recommendations made by the 9/11 commission.
Bonus round: Voters expect Democrats to do the following and are evenly split on whether they approve/disapprove:
  • Conduct major investigations of the Bush administration.
Here's what Democrats have said they would do in the first 100 hours of a Democratic House of Representatives:
  • Raise the minimum wage
  • Repeal the Medicare legislation that forbids the government from negotiating with drug companies for lower prices
  • Replenishing student loan programs
  • Fund stem cell research
  • Implement those recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission that have thus far languished.
And my Republican friends tell me that they expect Democrats to do the following things (and that they do NOT approve):
  • Make George W. Bush's life a ghastly, living hell
  • Abolish Christmas
  • Provide unlimited nights and weekends for terrorists using cellphones overseas.
  • Install Osama bin Laden as Commissioner of Baseball

(cross posted at Daily Kos)

Jim Caviziel, star of Passion of the Christ, appears in an anti-stem cell ad with a creepy subliminal message.

I won't provide a link to the full ad -- it's easy enough to Google.

But, rest assured, it is a real ad. I understand it will be running tonight on TV during the World Series broadcast -- live from Missouri where Amendment Two is a hot-button issue in the close race between Republican incumbent Jim Talent and Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill.

The anti-stem cell bunch is running this ad to counter the powerful ad featuring Michael J. Fox -- you remember that convicted felon Rush Limbaugh mocked Fox for faking it or purposely going off his meds to shoot the pro-Amendment Two ad.

So now, the anti-crowd is rolling out some other big guns as well -- Jeff Suppan, the starting pitcher for St. Louis in tonight's game also appears in the ad.

Man, if ever there was a reason to root for the Detroit Tigers in the World Series, this is it!

Others appearing in the anti-stem cell ad include Kurt Warner of the Arizona Cardinals and Patricia Heaton of Everybody Loves Raymond.

These are the battle lines, people: We're for prevention, they're for punishment. One side wants life-saving research to go on; the other side wants to send you to Hell.

Send money to Claire McCaskill's campaign.

Now that its deal with McDonald's has expired, Disney is cutting trans fats and empty calories from any food that they license.

America eats its young

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Garrison Keillor says we're sticking the next generation with debt and an unjust war. Solution: Cut healthcare for people with "Bush/Cheney" bumper stickers.

Jon Stewart was on fire last night:

  • Brownback And His Amazing Talking Embryos
  • Snowflake Children (How They Were Born And How They Got That Name)
  • The Simple Reason Why Bush Vetoed The Bill (And Why You Might Disagree)
  • Loophole In The Culture Of Life
  • You Can't Destroy Life To Save Life (Except In Iraq)
  • Undue Carnage vs. Due Carnage ("The Carnage They Had Coming")


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