Thursday, January 16, 2020

Death from Cardiovascular Disease up 25% in Colorado between 2010-2011 and 2015-2016


Do you ever read something in the news and have an immediate and fearful apprehension, a sense of foreboding?

MASS MORTALITY EVENTS INCREASING

I have been documenting mass mortality events for animals and elevated mortality statistics for people in the US since 2011. For example, see my posts here covering news reports of animal anomalies and shrinking human lifespans:
http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2013/10/animal-anomalies-is-fukushima-daiichi.html
http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2016/12/americans-lifespan-is-shrinking-experts.html 


Recent news that Colorado's cardiovascular disease death rate went up 25% between 2010-2011 and 2015-2016 is in my opinion absolutely alarming, especially because many of these deaths occurred in people who were in their 40s and 50s and Colorado has some of the lowest rates of obesity and diabetes in the country.

The WSJ news report on this increase in death rate "blames the victims" once again, ludicrously attributing diet and lack of physical activity in middle-aged people for causing a 25% increase in mortality over a 5 year period!

This is absolutely absurd. Although diet is most definitely linked to health, explaining a 25% increase in deaths over a 5 year period in terms of diet - when no significant dietary changes are identified - makes no sense.

WHAT HAS CHANGED?

What other factors have changed? The biggest factors that I see changing in the 5 year period between 2010-2011 and 2015-2016 are the fallout from the Fukushima disaster and increased fracking and fracking emissions in CO and across the country.

If you don't think Fukushima contaminated the US, read the US Geological Survey results of deposition testing for radionuclides in the US west:


The US received considerable fallout but the nuclear authorities reassured the public that there was "no risk," after all they had been experimenting with testing radiation effects on the US population since the early 1950s.


FUKUSHIMA FALLOUT?

Here are key findings reported in the WSJ article concerning the alarming increase in cardiovascular mortality:
Betsy McKay and Paul Overberg | Jan. 14, 2020 Heart Disease Strikes Back Across the U.S., Even in Healthy Places. The Wall Street Journal https://www.wsj.com/articles/heart-disease-strikes-back-across-the-u-s-even-in-healthy-places-11579015880

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.—Colorado is ranked as one of the nation’s healthiest states. It often doesn’t feel that way to David Rosenbaum.

The Colorado Springs cardiologist regularly sees men and women in their 30s and 40s with heart problems, such as high blood pressure, an irregular heart rhythm, heart attacks. A visit from a young patient was rare when he started practicing there 17 years ago. Not anymore.

…In the Journal’s analysis, three metro areas east of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains—Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and Greeley—recorded some of the biggest increases. Death rates in each rose almost 25%. The three cities boast robust access to exercise and health care

…Health officials cite a number of factors threatening to rob Colorado of its historically healthy status. The state’s adult obesity and diabetes rates, though still the lowest in the nation, have risen over the past several years. High blood pressure, drug and alcohol use, stress and a lack of physical activity—even in an exercise-mad state—also play a role, they say. These factors also increase risk for people who are genetically disposed to heart disease, doctors say.
A 25% increase in mortality among younger people over a 5 year period should set up warning alarms but instead the journal is blaming victims.

There are other alarming trends - indicators of failing human and ecological health - I've been watching, as illustrated by declining sperm rates in humans:
Hagai Levine, Niels Jørgensen, Anderson Martino-Andrade, Jaime Mendiola, Dan Weksler-Derri, Irina Mindlis, Rachel Pinotti, and Shanna H. Swan (2017). Temporal trends in sperm count: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis. Human Reproduction Update, pp. 1–14, 2017. doi:10.1093/humupd/dmx022

ABSTRACT: There was a significant decline in SC between 1973 and 2011 among Unselected Western (−1.38; −2.02 to −0.74; P < 0.001) and among Fertile Western (−0.68; −1.31 to −0.05; P = 0.033), while no significant trends were seen among Unselected Other and Fertile Other. Among Unselected Western studies, the mean SC [SPERM CONCENTRATION] declined, on average, 1.4% per year with an overall decline of 52.4% between 1973 and 2011..

Trends for TSC [TOTAL SPERM COUNT) and SC were similar, with a steep decline among Unselected Western (−5.33 million/year, −7.56 to −3.11; P < 0.001), corresponding to an average decline in mean TSC of 1.6% per year and overall decline of 59.3%. Results changed minimally in multiple sensitivity analyses, and there was no statistical support for the use of a nonlinear model…

WIDER IMPLICATIONS: This comprehensive meta-regression analysis reports a significant decline in sperm counts (as measured by SC and TSC) between 1973 and 2011, driven by a 50–60% decline among men unselected by fertility from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Because of the significant public health implications of these results, research on the causes of this continuing decline is urgently needed….
This study was a META-ANALYSIS so it looked at the results of 7,500 empirical studies on sperm counts and therefore came to its conclusions based on evaluation of the results of those 7,500 studies.

Most, albeit not all, of those studies reviewed in this meta-analysis address people of European descent. The paper notes that relatively few fertility studies are available for people in the global south.

Here is an empirical study of declining sperm quality and count among Chinese men:
Chuan Huang, Baishun Li, Kongrong Xu, Dan Liu, Jing Hu, Yang Yang, HongChuan Nie, Liqing Fan, Wenbing Zhu, ( ). Decline in semen quality among 30,636 young Chinese men from 2001 to 2015Fertility and Sterility, 107(1), 83–88.e2 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.09.035
Patient(s)
A total of 30,636 young adult men who applied to be sperm donors at the Hunan Province Human Sperm Bank of China in 2001–2015 were included in the study.
Intervention(s)  Physical examination and analysis of blood and semen samples.  
Main Outcome Measure(s)

Semen parameters, such as semen volume, sperm concentration, total sperm count, progressively motile sperm count, sperm progressive motility, sperm morphology, and round cells.  
Result(s)

Many of the semen parameters showed a decreasing trend over the 15-year observation period. The sperm concentration and percentage of sperm with normal morphology decreased from 68 × 106/mL to 47 × 106/mL and from 31.8% to 10.8%, respectively. Although sperm progressive motility showed irregular variation, the progressively motile sperm count decreased from 34 × 106 to 21 × 106 over the 15-year period. Furthermore, the rate of qualified donors fell from 55.78% in 2001 to 17.80% in 2015, and the rate for 2015 was approximately threefold lower than the corresponding rates in 2001.  
Conclusion(s)

The semen quality among young Chinese men has declined over a period of 15 years, especially in terms of sperm concentration, total sperm count, sperm progressive motility, and normal morphology.
What is causing this alarming decline in human sperm quality and quantity?

There are no doubt multiple variables that impact sperm quality, ranging from "lifestyle" factors such as diet, stress, and smoking to environmental factors, such as industrial-agricultural chemicals.

What is strangely missing from the acknowledged lists of culprits responsible for our looming reproductive collapse are the toxic and radioactive elements that we have unleashed upon the earth including lead, arsenic, mercury, and radioactive isotopes, particularly those that bioaccumulate in the testes (such as plutonium) and that impact the endocrine system (such as radioiodine).

Radioactive elements internalized inside the body emit gamma rays in close proximity to cells!

I've written extensively at my blog about the concerns of twentieth century scientists and physicians who studies the effects of ionizing radiation on reproduction. here are a couple of highly relevant samples:
https://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2012/05/burdening-species-with-genetic.html?m=0

http://majiasblog.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/systematic-study-in-first-bear-study-on.html#comment-form

http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2013/05/bear-report-1956.html
These links address the 1956 Biological Effects of Atomic Radiation Report. The Genetics Subcommittee's contribution to this report outlined the potential for ionizing radiation to lead to sudden collapses in reproductive fitness due to accumulated germline cell damage.

Too much genetic and/or epigenetic damage to germline cells promises the collapse of our species.

I've previously posted about the potential relationship between exposure to ionizing radiation and de novo mutations linked with autism. Children with autism have been found to have more de novo mutations than parents and unaffected siblings. What causes de novo mutations? Well, do novo mutations and epigenetic changes can be caused by myriad genotoxins but exposure ti ionizing radiation is among the most potent mutagens known.

The relationship between autism and ionizing radiation has not been studied, despite the sharp INCREASE IN AUTISM INCIDENTS in CA after Fukushima.

You can read more about the relationship I posit between human health effects and ionizing radiation here:
Majia's Blog: Autism and Exposure to Excess Ionizing Radiation: Is ... 
Majia's Blog: Autism and Radiation

Majia's Blog: Might Ionizing Radiation Contribute to Autism?

Majia's Blog: Ionizing Radiation and Our Neural System

Majia's Blog: Autism and the Environment: Let's Study Radiation

Majia's Blog: Ionizing Radiation and Germ Cell Damage: Link to Autism?

Majia's Blog: Living in a Radiation Contaminated Zone

Majia's Blog: Autism Conference and My Paper on the Ontology of ...

Majia's Blog: Chronic Radiation Exposure and Human Health

Sunday, January 5, 2020

US Blundering in the Middle East



I receive (academic) James M. Dorsey's very interesting political analyses and his latest on the US targeted killing is definitely worth reading. Here is a brief excerpt:
By James M. Dorsey [A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud, Itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker, Pocket Casts, Tumblr, Podbean, Audecibel, Patreon and Castbox.

The killing of Iranian military leader Qassim Soleimani proves the point: The United States has perfected the art of strengthening Iranian hardliners fuelled by an apparently ingrained misreading of Iranian politics and strategy sustained over decades.

It also suggests that the Trump administration has walked into a trap in which spiralling tension between the United States and Iran is likely to be played out on Iranian rather than US terms.

Iran moved last year away from its initial strategic patience response to the US withdrawal from the 2015 international agreement that curbed the Islamic republic’s nuclear program and imposition of harsh economic sanctions to a strategy of gradual escalation....

I have written previously about the misguided US policy to re-make the Middle East many times:
http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2018/04/seven-nations-in-five-years.html 

Many internal dissenters have gone public regarding the ill-advised re-making of the region:
Joe Conason (10.12.2007).“Seven countries in five years”: Wesley Clark’s new memoir casts more light on the Bush administration’s secret strategies for regime change in Iran and elsewhere. Salon, https://www.salon.com/2007/10/12/wesley_clark/

While the Bush White House promotes the possibility of armed conflict with Iran, a tantalizing passage in Wesley Clark's new memoir suggests that another war is part of a long-planned Department of Defense strategy that anticipated "regime change" by force in no fewer than seven Mideast states....

In May 1991, according to Clark, he dropped in for a conversation with Wolfowitz, then the third-ranking civilian in the Pentagon, to congratulate him on the success of the Gulf War. "We screwed up and left Saddam Hussein in power. The president [then George H.W. Bush] believes he'll be overthrown by his own people, but I rather doubt it," he quotes Wolfowitz lamenting. 
"But we did learn one thing that's very important. With the end of the Cold War, we can now use our military with impunity. The Soviets won't come in to block us. And we've got five, maybe 10, years to clean up these old Soviet surrogate regimes like Iraq and Syria before the next superpower emerges to challenge us ... We could have a little more time, but no one really knows."
The legacy of this imperialism by the US and by other warlike nations is vast human suffering, as illustrated in this headline from a year ago:
Chen, Michelle (2019, Feb 26). 1 in 5 Children Live in a War Zone. The Nation, https://www.thenation.com/article/children-warzone-conflict/And that number has only risen in the past few years. Around the world, a stunning one in five children are growing up in a war zone today. Neither their governments, nor humanitarian-aid groups, nor their families can guarantee the basic elements of survival, much less anything like a happy childhood.
My heart breaks for the victims of the stupid and homicidal games played by the sociopathic men we allow to rule us.


Saturday, January 4, 2020

Pesticides and Biological Life


I realize there are times when pesticides are seemingly inescapably necessary but I have problems with the routine use of them, especially on food and in our homes.

A recent study published in the Journal of American Medicine finds that exposure to the class of pesticides known as pyrethroids, which are widely used in the course of daily life, are correlated with increased risk of death:
Bao W, Liu B, Simonsen DW, Lehmler H. Association Between Exposure to Pyrethroid Insecticides and Risk of All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality in the General US Adult Population. JAMA Intern Med. Published online December 30, 2019. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.6019

Question: Is pyrethroid exposure associated with long-term mortality in the general US adult population?

Findings In this cohort study of a nationally representative sample of 2116 adults in the United States, higher exposure to pyrethroid insecticides, indicated by higher levels of general pyrethroid metabolite 3-phenoxybenzoic acid in urine samples, was associated with a higher risk of death from all causes or cardiovascular disease over 14 years of observation.

Meaning Environmental exposure to pyrethroid insecticides appears to be associated with an increased risk of long-term all-cause mortality and cardiovascular mortality in the US general adult population.
The article notes that this class of pesticides are used in households, as pet sprays and shampoos, lice treatment and mosquito repellents, among other applications. This class of pesticides account for approximately 30 percent of the insecticide market globally.

Many people think it necessary to spray their homes with pesticides to keep out pests, but I've found over the years that there are a number of alternatives that can be deployed, including sealing up external cracks and crevices (especially around windows and sliding doors), sweeping regularly outside near house and vacuuming frequently inside the house.

I live on the edge of the desert and have all sorts of critters trying to get into my house. These strategies are largely effective and do not poison me or my local environment.

The unthinking and routine deployment of pesticides (and also herbicides) by households is often overlooked as agricultural uses tend to get more attention.

Clearly, dosing our food with toxic chemicals is a bad idea and should be stopped. I try and eat organically to avoid being poisoned by my food but recognize that this ability to eat organically today is a privilege of my upper-middle class status.

Unfortunately, governments everywhere too often unequivocally support the chemical industry and elevate their interests over the common good.

For example, in July 2019, the US EPA declined to ban a class of pesticides - the chlorpyrifos - that studies funded by the agency linked to developmental delays in children:
Schulte, C. (July 22, 2019). Trump Administration Refuses to Ban Neurotoxic Pesticide EPA Science Says Chlorpyrifos Exposure Threatens Public Health. Human Rights Watch. https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/07/22/trump-administration-refuses-ban-neurotoxic-pesticide

Last week, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decided not to ban chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxic pesticide that, according to studies funded by the agency, has been linked to developmental delay in children. This decision is just the latest example of the Trump administration obstructing public and environmental health regulations of toxic materials. 
Pesticides should be reserved for the most pressing of emergency situations rather than being routinely deployed in agriculture and in our homes.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

More Life for the Wealthy - Less Life for the Poor


How is disparate human life valued? By "wealth"!
Chetty R, Stepner M, Abraham S, et al. The Association Between Income and Life Expectancy in the United States, 2001-2014. JAMA. 2016;315(16):1750–1766. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2016.4226

Importance The relationship between income and life expectancy is well established but remains poorly understood.

Objectives To measure the level, time trend, and geographic variability in the association between income and life expectancy and to identify factors related to small area variation.

Design and Setting Income data for the US population were obtained from 1.4 billion deidentified tax records between 1999 and 2014. Mortality data were obtained from Social Security Administration death records. These data were used to estimate race- and ethnicity-adjusted life expectancy at 40 years of age by household income percentile, sex, and geographic area, and to evaluate factors associated with differences in life expectancy.

Exposure Pretax household earnings as a measure of income.

Main Outcomes and Measures Relationship between income and life expectancy; trends in life expectancy by income group; geographic variation in life expectancy levels and trends by income group; and factors associated with differences in life expectancy across areas.

Results The sample consisted of 1 408 287 218 person-year observations for individuals aged 40 to 76 years (mean age, 53.0 years; median household earnings among working individuals, $61 175 per year). There were 4 114 380 deaths among men (mortality rate, 596.3 per 100 000) and 2 694 808 deaths among women (mortality rate, 375.1 per 100 000). 


The analysis yielded 4 results. First, higher income was associated with greater longevity throughout the income distribution. The gap in life expectancy between the richest 1% and poorest 1% of individuals was 14.6 years (95% CI, 14.4 to 14.8 years) for men and 10.1 years (95% CI, 9.9 to 10.3 years) for women. 

Second, inequality in life expectancy increased over time. Between 2001 and 2014, life expectancy increased by 2.34 years for men and 2.91 years for women in the top 5% of the income distribution, but by only 0.32 years for men and 0.04 years for women in the bottom 5% (P < .001 for the differences for both sexes). 

Third, life expectancy for low-income individuals varied substantially across local areas. In the bottom income quartile, life expectancy differed by approximately 4.5 years between areas with the highest and lowest longevity.  Changes in life expectancy between 2001 and 2014 ranged from gains of more than 4 years to losses of more than 2 years across areas. 

Fourth, geographic differences in life expectancy for individuals in the lowest income quartile were significantly correlated with health behaviors such as smoking (r = −0.69, P < .001), but were not significantly correlated with access to medical care, physical environmental factors, income inequality, or labor market conditions. Life expectancy for low-income individuals was positively correlated with the local area fraction of immigrants (r = 0.72, P < .001), fraction of college graduates (r = 0.42, P < .001), and government expenditures (r = 0.57, P < .001).

Conclusions and Relevance In the United States between 2001 and 2014, higher income was associated with greater longevity, and differences in life expectancy across income groups increased over time. However, the association between life expectancy and income varied substantially across areas; differences in longevity across income groups decreased in some areas and increased in others. The differences in life expectancy were correlated with health behaviors and local area characteristics.
Majia's blog: Note that "local area characteristics" - especially government expenditures - can ameliorate the impact of low income.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Species Self-Annihilation by Denialism


I saw an article in the Wall Street Journal early December indicating that songbirds have shrunk in size:

Hotz, Robert Lee (2019, December 5). Songbirds shrink in size, study finds. The Wall Street Journal, p. A3.

The article cites a 40 year study that attributes the shrinking size to warming temperatures:
Brian C. Weeks, David E. Willard, Aspen A. Ellis, Max L. Witynski, Mary Hennen, Benjamin M. Winger (2019). Shared morphological consequences of global warming in North American migratory birds.bioRxiv 610329; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/610329 Now published in Ecology Letters doi: 10.1111/ele.13434

Increasing temperatures associated with climate change are predicted to cause reductions in body size, a key determinant of animal physiology and ecology. Using a four-decade specimen series of 70,716 individuals of 52 North American migratory bird species, we demonstrate that increasing annual summer temperature over the 40-year period drove consistent reductions in body size across these diverse taxa. Concurrently, wing length – which impacts nearly all aspects of avian ecology and behavior – has consistently increased across taxa. Our findings suggest that warming-induced body size reduction is a general response to climate change, and reveal a similarly consistent shift in an ecologically-important dimension of body shape. We hypothesize that increasing wing length represents a compensatory adaptation to maintain migration as reductions in body size have increased the metabolic cost of flight. An improved understanding of warming-induced morphological changes, and their limits, are important for predicting biotic responses to global change.
Møller, A., Bonisoli-Alquati, A., Rudolfsen, G., Mousseau, T. (2011). Chernobyl birds have smaller brains. PlOS One, 6(2), e16862, 1-6. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016862.
H. J. Muller demonstrated that genetic damage incurred in one generation is transmitted through germ line cells across generations, with too many mutations ultimately being expressed in genetic instabilities, mosaicism, and potential species extinction (see my discussion here and ongoing research here NIH Director's Blog on Genetic Mosaicism ).
 
Today, we know that epigenetic changes can also occur, impacting expression of genes (gene function) without observable damage to DNA structure.