Sunday, September 19, 2010

Redefining Quackery II

First it was Extreme Makeover, and now we have BridalPlasty; the marriage of medicine and reality TV. As hard as this is to believe, I am not making this up.
E! orders plastic surgery bridal competition
EXCLUSIVE: 'Bridalplasty' contestants vie to be 'perfect bride'
By James Hibberd Sept 16, 2010, 01:19 AM ET
In one of the most shocking reality TV ideas yet, E! has ordered a new series that crosses a wedding competition with extreme plastic surgery.
The network is set to announce "Bridalplasty," where brides-to-be compete in wedding-themed challenges to win extensive surgical procedures.

Each week, a group of women competes head-to-head in such challenges as writing wedding vows and planning honeymoons. The winner receives the chance to choose a plastic surgery procedure from her "wish list." She's given the procedure immediately, and results are shown at the start of the following week's episode.

One by one, the women are voted out by their competitors and, according to the show's description, "possibly walking away with nothing and losing [their] chance to be the perfect bride."

The last bride standing will receive a "dream wedding," where she will reveal her new appearance to friends, family and the groom. "Viewers will witness his emotional and possibly shocked reaction as they stand at the altar and he lifts her veil to see her for the first time following her extreme plastic surgery," E! said.
Could medicine debase itself more? Unnecessary medical care for entertainment is beyond quackery. It’s repugnant! What does this say about medicine, and what does it say about our American culture?
I think the article comments say it best:
Laura comments: I think this is awful, but I'll still totally watch it. Like a car crash.
Disgusted comments: Please tell me this is an Onion article. Wow, what a horrible idea.
bildungsroman comments: I used to have a teeny, tiny bit of faith in humanity. It's gone now.
unbelievable comments: What a terrible show this will be!! A complete low. Ha
C comments: Where is the Pride?
aney comments: This show is an all time low. How embarrassing.
Jesus comments: I wept.
And my personal favorite:
steve comments: No wonder terrorists hate us
When I think about it for a moment, I guess I am not all that surprised. After all, drug commercials that pervade television are nothing more than a fusion of medicine and entertainment posing as infomercials: actors portraying doctors, scripted and quoting corporate sponsored studies which amount to nothing more than science-fiction.

What’s next, medical family theme parks? I can see it now:
The Abilify (bi-polar) roller-coaster

The Pepsid (upset stomach) bumper cars
The Toviaz (overactive bladder) water slide
The Viagra (erectile dysfunction) tunnel of love
The Prozac (anti-anxiety/panic attack) house of horrors
The Alli (weight reduction) hall of mirrors
And, the Lunesta (sleep disorders) family rest areas

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Toxic Chemicals, A New Evolutionary Pressure

Toxic Chemicals; A New Evolutionary Pressure

Never having read Darwin in depth, I can only offer my simple summary of evolution as ‘natural selection and adaptation/descent with modification’ over long periods of time.
I recently finished reading Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things.
My primary walk-away point:
Nothing is solid, especially human epithelium; the layer of cells that line the cavities and surface structures throughout our bodies. The epithelium, in its protective role, is more of filter than a barrier, and not a great one at that.
The cornucopia of chemicals, many of them toxic, that we are routinely exposed to; that we inhale, ingest (chemical foods, pesticides, etc, and drugs), touch (chemical fire retardants and stain protectors in furniture, household cleansers, laundry soaps, etc), and apply to our bodies (personal hygiene products) are absorbed by our bodies and enter our blood. We all, including newborns, have circulating levels of toxic chemicals in our blood; including mercury (from fish), BPA’s (from plastics and linings of canned products, etc.), phthalates (in shampoos, shaving gels, household products and children’s toys, etc.), and more. As the authors succinctly say, “We’re all marinating in chemicals every day.”
One part of the book I found fascinating had to do with the ubiquitous chemical, triclosan.
We live in a germ-phobic world and any fear can, and usually is, exploited for profit: create and build fear and sell the antidote. In this case, triclosan is the chemical industry’s Holy Grail anti-bacterial. As such, and as you would imagine, chemical companies are putting it everywhere, from hand soaps and toothpastes, to toothbrushes.

The simple point being that the daily use of normal household and personal hygiene products result in personal pollution that spikes the body’s blood levels of triclosan, and other chemicals.
When the author asked a scientist if he should be worried about the extremely high levels of triclosan in his urine the response was: “It shows that your body is working properly in removing triclosan. It is high for the moment. But, you should know that the human body usually adapts in the metabolism of triclosan.”
The authors go on to say: “The concept that our bodies need to adapt to synthetic chemicals is an interesting one. Given that triclosan is a human creation, the metabolic pathways necessary to break it down and excrete it are indeed things that our bodies need to learn how to do.”
The authors continue” The huge number of synthetic chemicals that surround us every day of our lives is creating a new kind of evolutionary pressure, a new kind of natural selection every bit as powerful as the process that resulted in human populations developing lighter or darker skin pigments in response to prevailing climatic conditions. Because of the increasing evidence that many human illnesses—including fatal ones like cancer—are linked to exposure to chemical pollution and because some people’s bodies are better able to adapt to and cope with these new environmental stressors than others , perhaps the human population is being culled by toxic chemicals.”
Whoa, and whoa again!! This is the essence of evolution, adaption and descent with modification; that some of us are ‘genetically predisposed to deal with the daily assault of toxic chemicals and some are not.’
The idea of genetic adaptation, modification and selection for toxic chemical hardiness or ‘immunity’ for survival is mind bending. That this survival mechanism of evolution has been ‘built-in’ since the first life forms, to adapt to an ever-changing environment, is the epitome of perfection.
“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one: and that whilst this planet has gone on cycling according to the fixed laws of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.” Charles Darwin, The Origin of the Species.