Feb. 11th, 2009

joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)


Flip for Free Pancakes!
February 24, 2009

Join IHOP to celebrate National Pancake Day on Tuesday, February 24, 2009. From 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., we’ll give you one free short stack (three) of our famous buttermilk pancakes.* All we ask is that you consider making a donation to support local children’s hospitals through Children’s Miracle Network, or other local charities.

Known also as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, National Pancake Day dates back several centuries to when the English prepped for fasting during Lent. Strict rules prohibited the eating of all dairy products during Lent, so pancakes were made to use up the supply of eggs, milk, butter and other dairy products…hence the name Pancake Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday.

joreth: (Bad Computer!)


This article starts with the headline:  "New research challenges long-held notion that masturbation is healthy, abstinence rises on campus."   This confused me, since all the research I've seen up until now says the opposite.  The link didn't go to an obviously-religious paper, so I followed it to read what it had to say.

It starts out by telling us of a new study that shows an increased chance of prostate cancer in men who masturbate frequently.  Then it goes on to give the scary statistics of how many people currently have various STDs (it uses the HPV statistic, among others, which, although high, also has a very low mortality rate in comparison to other STDs, and a low symptomatic rate - not to downplay the seriousness of HPV, but let's not start a panic either by leaving out those details).  Then it gives a few anecdotes from college kids who are afraid to have sex.

Halfway down the second page, the reporter finally gets around to telling us that the study was not well done, it relied upon surveys of men who had prostate cancer to tell the researchers about their masturbatory habits in their 20s and 30s, and how this same study ALSO showed that masturbation can PREVENT prostate cancer for men older than 50.  So, it showed an increased risk for prostate cancer in young men and a reduced risk of prostate cancer in old men?  This study was circumstantial and not double-blinded or placebo-controlled (I'm not even sure if one *can* do a double-blinded, placebo-controlled study on the effects of masturbation against prostate cancer).

PLUS this same study showed other increased health benefits, like helping with insomnia, depression, reducing stress levels.  This study is also the first (and so far only, I think) study to go against an established, well-accepted claim with a wide body of evidence and research.  This means that it should fall under that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" category.  At best, this would be considered a preliminary study, one that poses an interesting question for further research, not a conclusive, robust study that makes a claim as this article has implied.

I have to give her some credit, the "journalist" did include those details about how poor and inconclusive and even contradictory the study was.  But she waited until the end of her article, the bottom of PAGE 2, and her headline is worded in such a way as to strongly imply support for the "conclusion" that masturbation is unhealthy.

It's because of sloppy journalistic writing like this that we have such an uninformed populace in our country.
joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)


And on the hopeful front for HPV, there is currently research being done on something called Listeria monocytogenes to deliver a tumor-specific antigen fusion protein. 

"Pre-clinically, bioengineered attenuated Listeria that secrete Advaxis' proprietary fusion protein have the ability to generate a robust immune response, break immune tolerance to cancer and produce an unusually strong and effective multi-level therapeutic immune response to existing cancer and other diseases. ... The Company's proprietary antigen fusion protein technology stimulates innate immunity: both arms of the adaptive cellular immune system, suppresses regulatory T-cells that inhibit many vaccines in the function of activated tumor-killing cells and has other anti-tumor effects."

What makes this so exciting is that this research is to develop a therapeutic vaccine (as opposed to prophylactic vaccines currently on the market) that would treat women who ALREADY HAVE cervical cancer as a result of HPV.  The limitation to the current Gardasil vaccine is that it doesn't do anything for women who have already been exposed to those strains of HPV.  Since older women are assumed to have more chance to be exposed, we are discouraged from getting the vaccine, if only because the FDA hasn't approved it so insurance won't cover it, making it cost-prohibitive to many of us.  The pap smear has been great for early detection of pre-cancerous cells once we already have HPV, and early detection is responsible for the high success rate in treating cancer and cervical dysplasia.

But for those statistically few women who do not respond to the treatment, or do not detect it early enough, this would be fantastic to be able to give them a shot that contains a vaccine that goes into the body and actively attacks the tumor cells as well as boosting the body's own ability to fight the cancer.

Yay science!


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