Monthly Archives: January 2013

Think About It

Standard

 

robot man

What is essential in the machine is only the interaction of its parts. The unifying principle that governs that interaction does not exist in the object itself but outside it as a plan in the head of its builder. Only the most extreme shortsightedness can deny that the difference between an organism and a mechanism is precisely the fact that in a machine the determining principle governing the interrelationship of its parts is external (and abstract), whereas in an organism it assumes a real existence in the object itself. 

R. Steiner

 

Study: Many Sunscreens May Be Accelerating Cancer

Standard

suntan

Study: Many Sunscreens May Be Accelerating Cancer

WASHINGTON (May 24) — Almost half of the 500 most popular sunscreen products may actually increase the speed at which malignant cells develop and spread skin cancer because they contain vitamin A or its derivatives, according to an evaluation of those products released today.AOL News also has learned through documents and interviews that the Food and Drug Administration has known of the potential danger for as long as a decade without alerting the public, which the FDA denies.

The study was released with Memorial Day weekend approaching. Store shelves throughout the country are already crammed with tubes, jars, bottles and spray cans of sunscreen.

The white goop, creams and ointments might prevent sunburn. But don’t count on them to keep the ultraviolet light from destroying your skin cells and causing tumors and lesions, according to researchers at Environmental Working Group.

In their annual report to consumers on sunscreen, they say that only 39 of the 500 products they examined were considered safe and effective to use.

The report cites these problems with bogus sun protection factor (SPF) numbers:

  • The use of the hormone-disrupting chemical oxybenzone, which penetrates the skin and enters the bloodstream.
  • Overstated claims about performance.
  • The lack of needed regulations and oversight by the Food and Drug Administration.

But the most alarming disclosure in this year’s report is the finding that vitamin A and its derivatives, retinol and retinyl palmitate, may speed up the cancer that sunscreen is used to prevent.

Chart showing relationship between Vitamin A and tumors.

Environmental Working Group

A dangerous additive

The industry includes vitamin A in its sunscreen formulations because it is an anti-oxidant that slows skin aging.

But the EWG researchers found the initial findings of an FDA study of vitamin A’s photocarcinogenic properties, meaning the possibility that it results in cancerous tumors when used on skin exposed to sunlight.

“In that yearlong study, tumors and lesions developed up to 21 percent faster in lab animals coated in a vitamin A-laced cream than animals treated with a vitamin-free cream,” the report said.

The conclusion came from EWG’s analysis of initial findings released last fall by the FDA and the National Toxicology Program, the federal government’s principle evaluator of substances that raise public health concerns.

EWG’s conclusions were subsequently scrutinized by outside toxicologists.

Based on the strength of the findings by FDA’s own scientists, many in the public health community say they can’t believe nor understand why the agency hasn’t already notified the public of the possible danger.

“There was enough evidence 10 years ago for FDA to caution consumers against the use of vitamin A in sunscreens,” Jane Houlihan, EWG’s senior vice president for research, told AOL News.

“FDA launched this one-year study, completed their research and now 10 years later, they say nothing about it, just silence.”

On Friday, the FDA said the allegations are not true.

“We have thoroughly checked and are not aware of any studies,” an FDA spokesperson told AOL News. She said she checked with bosses throughout the agency and found no one who knew of the vitamin A sunscreen research being done by or on behalf of the agency.

But documents from the FDA and the National Toxicology Program showed that the agency had done the research.

“Retinyl palmitate was selected by (FDA’s) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition for photo-toxicity and photocarcinogenicity testing based on the increasingly widespread use of this compound in cosmetic retail products for use on sun-exposed skin,” said an October 2000 report by the National Toxicology Program.

FDA’s own website said the animal studies were done at its National Center for Toxicological Research in Jefferson, Ark. And it was scientists from the FDA center and National Toxicology Program who posted the study data last fall.

In a perfect world

The ideal sunscreen would completely block the UV rays that cause sunburn, immune suppression and damaging free radicals. It would remain effective on the skin for several hours and not form harmful ingredients when degraded by UV light, the report said.

Graph of melanoma of the skin rates from 1975 to 2006.

National Cancer Institute
Graph of melanoma of the skin rates from 1975 to 2006. APC stands for annual percent change and AAPC stands for average annual percent change.

But in the U.S., there is currently no sunscreen that meets all of these criteria. European countries have more chemical combinations to offer, but in the U.S. the major choice is between the “chemical” sunscreens, which have inferior stability, penetrate the skin and may disrupt the body’s hormone systems, and “mineral” sunscreens zinc and titanium dioxide.

Increasingly, as AOL News reported in March, the industry is using titanium dioxide that is made nanosized, which a growing number of researchers believe have serious health implications.

The sunscreen industry cringes when EWG releases its yearly report — this is its fourth. The industry charges that the advocacy group wants to do away with all sunscreen products, a claim that is not accurate.

The report’s researchers clearly say that an effective sunscreen prevents more damage than it causes, but it wants consumers to have accurate information on the limitations of what they buy and on the potentially harmful chemicals in some of those products.

EWG does warn consumers not to depend on any sunscreen for primary protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Hats, clothing and shade are still the most reliable sun protection available, they say.

Don’t count on the numbers 

Some of us are old enough to remember when the idea of having a tan was good, a sign of health, when billboards and magazine ads featured the Coppertone girl showing off her tan when a puppy pulls down her bathing suit bottom.

Going for that tan, we coated our kids and ourselves with sun blockers with sun protection factors of 1 or 2. Some overly cautious parents might have smeared on a 4 during the hottest part of a day.

But we’ve learned of the dangers that come from exposure to the sun’s rays, especially ultraviolet A and B. So today, drugstore shelves are crammed with sunscreens boasting SPFs of 30, 45, 80 or even higher.

However, the new report says those numbers are often meaningless and dangerous because products with high SPF ratings sell a false sense of security, encouraging people using them to stay out in the sun longer.

“People don’t get the high SPF they pay for,” the report says. “People apply about a quarter of the recommended amount. So in everyday practice, a product labeled SPF 100 really performs like SPF 3.2, an SPF 30 rating equates to a 2.3 and an SPF 15 translates to 2.”

In 2007, the report says, the FDA published proposed regulations that would prohibit manufacturers from labeling sunscreens with an SPF higher than “SPF 50.” The agency wrote that higher values would be “inherently misleading,” given that “there is no assurance that the specific values themselves are in fact truthful.”

This is being widely ignored by the sunscreen makers who are heavily advertising their 80, 90 and 100 SPF products.

“Flouting FDA’s proposed regulation,” companies substantially increased their high-SPF offerings in 2010 with one in six brands now listing SPF values higher than 50. “Neutrogena and Banana Boat stand out among the offenders, with six and four products labeled as ‘SPF 100,’ respectively,” the new report says.

The full list of the best and worst sunscreens can be found on the EWG’ssearchable database. (Update: The database has been loading slowly today. You may want to try it again later.)

A Vindication of Natural Diet. by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Standard

cow

An Excerpt from “A Vindication of Natural Diet” from the famous Vegetarian Percy Bysshe Shelly

Comparative anatomy teaches us that man resembles frugivorous animals in
everything, and carnivorous in nothing: he has neither claws wherewith
to seize his prey, nor distinct and pointed teeth to tear the living
fibre. A mandarin of the first class, with nails two inches long, would
probably find them alone inefficient to hold even a hare. After every
subterfuge of gluttony, the bull must be degraded into the ox, and the
ram into the wether, by an unnatural and inhuman operation, that the
flaccid fibre may offer a fainter resistance to rebellious nature. It is
only by softening and disguising dead flesh by culinary preparation that
it is rendered susceptible of mastication or digestion, and that the
sight of its bloody juices and raw horror does not excite intolerable
loathing and disgust. Let the advocate of animal food force himself to a
decisive experiment on its fitness, and, as Plutarch recommends, tear a
living lamb with his teeth, and plunging his head into its vitals, slake
his thirst with the steaming blood; when fresh from the deed of horror,
let him revert to the irresistible instincts of nature that would rise
in judgment against it, and say, Nature formed me for such work as this.
Then, and then only, would he be consistent.

Man resembles no carnivorous animal. There is no exception, except man
be one, to the rule of herbivorous animals having cellulated colons.

The orang-outang perfectly resembles man both in the order and number of
his teeth. The orang-outang is the most anthropomorphous of the ape
tribe, all of which are strictly frugivorous. There is no other species
of animals in which this analogy exists.[4] In many frugivorous animals,
the canine teeth are more pointed and distinct than those of man. The
resemblance also of the human stomach to that of the orang-outang is
greater than to that of any other animal.

The intestines are also identical with those of herbivorous animals,
which present a large surface for absorption, and have ample and
cellulated colons. The cæcum also, though short, is larger than that of
carnivorous animals; and even here the orang-outang retains its
accustomed similarity.

The structure of the human frame then is that of one fitted to a pure
vegetable diet, in every essential particular. It is true that the
reluctance to abstain from animal food, in those who have been long
accustomed to its stimulus, is so great in some persons of weak minds,
as to be scarcely overcome; but this is far from bringing any argument
in its favour. A lamb which was fed for some time on flesh by a ship’s
crew, refused its natural diet at the end of the voyage. There are
numerous instances of horses, sheep, oxen, and even wood-pigeons, having
been taught to live upon flesh, until they have loathed their natural
aliment. Young children evidently prefer pastry, oranges, apples, and
other fruit, to the flesh of animals, until, by the gradual depravation
of the digestive organs, the free use of vegetables has, for a time,
produced serious inconveniences; _for a time_, I say, since there never
was an instance wherein a change from spirituous liquors and animal food
to vegetables and pure water, has failed ultimately to invigorate the
body, by rendering its juices bland and consentaneous, and to restore to
the mind that cheerfulness and elasticity, which not one in fifty
possesses on the present system. A love of strong liquors is also with
difficulty taught to infants. Almost every one remembers the wry faces
the first glass of port produced. Unsophisticated instinct is
invariably unerring; but to decide on the fitness of animal food, from
the perverted appetites which its constrained adoption produce, is to
make the criminal a judge in his own cause; it is even worse, it is
appealing to the infatuated drunkard in a question of the salubrity of
brandy.

What is the cause of morbid action in the animal system? Not the air we
breathe, for our fellow denizens of nature breathe the same uninjured;
not the water we drink, if remote from the pollutions of man and his
inventions, for the animals drink it too; not the earth we tread upon;
not the unobscured sight of glorious nature, in the wood, the field, or
the expanse of sky and ocean; nothing that we are or do in common with
the undiseased inhabitants of the forest. Something then wherein we
differ from them; our habit of altering our food by fire, so that our
appetite is no longer a just criterion for the fitness of its
gratification. Except in children there remains no traces of that
instinct which determines, in all other animals, what aliment is natural
or otherwise; and so perfectly obliterated are they in the reasoning
adults of our species, that it has become necessary to urge
considerations, drawn from comparative anatomy, to prove that we are
naturally frugivorous.

Inescapable Grace

Standard

face

Awaken To The Grace Within

“You were born into a state of grace. It is impossible for you to leave it. You will die in a state of grace whether or not special words are spoken for you, or water or oil is poured upon your head. You share this blessing with the animals and all other living things. You cannot fall out of grace, nor can it be taken from you. You can ignore it. You can hold beliefs that blind you to its existence. You will still be graced but unable to perceive your own uniqueness and integrity, and blind also to other attributes with which you are automatically gifted.”
― Jane RobertsThe Nature of Personal Reality:

The Bee: By Emily Dickinson

Standard

bee

THE BEE.

Like trains of cars on tracks of plush
I hear the level bee:
A jar across the flowers goes,
Their velvet masonry

Withstands until the sweet assault
Their chivalry consumes,
While he, victorious, tilts away
To vanquish other blooms.

His feet are shod with gauze,
His helmet is of gold;
His breast, a single onyx
With chrysoprase, inlaid.

His labor is a chant,
His idleness a tune;
Oh, for a bee’s experience
Of clovers and of noon!

Ancient India: The Birth Place Of Yoga

Standard

india

The civilisation of ancient Greece was nurtured within city
walls. In fact, all the modern civilisations have their cradles
of brick and mortar.

These walls leave their mark deep in the minds of men. They set
up a principle of “divide and rule” in our mental outlook, which
begets in us a habit of securing all our conquests by fortifying
them and separating them from one another. We divide nation and
nation, knowledge and knowledge, man and nature. It breeds in us
a strong suspicion of whatever is beyond the barriers we have
built, and everything has to fight hard for its entrance into our
recognition.

When the first Aryan invaders appeared in India it was a vast
land of forests, and the new-comers rapidly took advantage of
them. These forests afforded them shelter from the fierce heat
of the sun and the ravages of tropical storms, pastures for
cattle, fuel for sacrificial fire, and materials for building
cottages. And the different Aryan clans with their patriarchal
heads settled in the different forest tracts which had some
special advantage of natural protection, and food and water in
plenty.

Thus in India it was in the forests that our civilisation had its
birth, and it took a distinct character from this origin and
environment. It was surrounded by the vast life of nature, was
fed and clothed by her, and had the closest and most constant
intercourse with her varying aspects.

Such a life, it may be thought, tends to have the effect of
dulling human intelligence and dwarfing the incentives to
progress by lowering the standards of existence. But in ancient
India we find that the circumstances of forest life did not
overcome man’s mind, and did not enfeeble the current of his
energies, but only gave to it a particular direction. Having
been in constant contact with the living growth of nature, his
mind was free from the desire to extend his dominion by erecting
boundary walls around his acquisitions. His aim was not to
acquire but to realise, to enlarge his consciousness by growing
with and growing into his surroundings. He felt that truth is
all-comprehensive, that there is no such thing as absolute
isolation in existence, and the only way of attaining truth is
through the interpenetration of our being into all objects. To
realise this great harmony between man’s spirit and the spirit of
the world was the endeavour of the forest-dwelling sages of
ancient India.

 R. Tagore