Friday, April 26, 2013

[Searcher] A few more notes on Chemoterapy

Chemotherapy is a very complex subject. Here are some quick notes that may further expand your perception of it.

Chemotherapy harms the heart
A research demonstrating one of the dangers of this medical treatment. Further proof of heart damage done.

Ovarian tissue cryopreservation
Cryopreservation (freezing) of ovaries may be a workaround over female fertility chemotherapy often causes.

An account of testicular cancer
A paper that may give you an idea about the medical procedures cancer patients go through - from chemo to surgical interaction.

Cannabinoids may worsen gastric dysmotility induced by chronic cisplatin in the rat.
Or, basically, medical marijuana may be counterproductive.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Researcher: Advancements in Radiation Treatments

One of the things we talked about in class was about radiation and how now there is this new form of radiation that is basically giving radiation in small doses to patients. Aggressively fighting the cancer cells in someone’s body and trying to get all the cancer out as soon as possible isn’t the motive, but to live with cancer and control it and then fight it is the motive. Talking about this new form of radiation got me thinking about the other treatments for cancer, as well as the differences between similar treatments; as well as the current advancement in cancer. It turns up the 50% of patients who have cancer will have some form of radiation therapy. One of the new forms of radiation is a 3D Conformal Radiation Therapy which is to improve the precision with which radiation is delivered to tumors and leads to minimizing radiation dose to healthy tissues (1). The newest form of 3D conformal radiation therapy is Intensity-modulated radiation therapy. This form changes the shape of the beams and it varies the intensity of radiation within each beam. These two forms of radiation key points are that they are able to minimize the amount of radiation dose to healthy tissues, which sounds like a good thing and maybe a really big improvement. Even these new forms of radiation are to aggressively fight cancer and its reproduction. The fact that these little changes make such a big difference is huge and shows how things are changing for the better very rapidly.

Website used and additional websites about advancements:

[Searcher] Defeating Cancer

This week's topic of cancer and it's causes was particularly meaningful to me because many members of my family have had cancer or died from it. What was particularly interesting to me was the notion that cancer is constantly evolving. Although this seems obvious, it's implications are huge. Finding a cure has always been an issue because we appeared late in the game, so to speak. What makes things even more difficult is that cancer is not static and that it is different in every case. Cells work much like evolution in that natural selection and mutations are inevitable. A cell line that gains an advantage in the competition for resources will have accumulated mutations that will likely proliferate and possibly evolve into a cancerous tumor. This surprised me because I also never thought of cells as being in a competition either. Some possible surface-level solutions to this adapting cancer is to be checked routinely for cancer as the less time a cancerous cell has to evolve, the less diverse the population of cells will become. Another possible solution is to attack early cancer aggressively so that it doesn't have the chance to evolve and evade assaults. With how easily cancer tends to evade our advances, it's important to know as much about it's history and how it functions as possible.

More information about cells adapting and possible solutions:

Searcher: What Cancer Can Teach Us About Evolution

Cancer affects many people and it seems as if almost everybody now knows a person that is affected by cancer. While searching on the web for cancer related articles, I came upon a article titled Cancer Can Teach Us About Our Own Evolution by Paul Davies on The Guardian. This article talks about how researchers, while in the search for a cure for cancer, took a step back and asked the basic question of "why does cancer exist?" Davies talks about how "cancer, it seems, is embedded in the basic machinery of life, a type of default state that can be triggered by some kind of insult." Cancer does not only affect people, but is also widespread among mammals, fish, reptiles, and even plants. It is said that "scientists have identified genes implicated in cancer that we are thought to be hundreds of millions of years old"(Davies). The article focuses on two evolutionary stages that are relevant to cancer. The first is an occurrence that happened over 2 billion years ago, "when large, complex cells emerged containing mitochondria... Biologists think mitochondria are the remnants of ancient bacteria. Tellingly, they undergo systematic changes as cancer develops, profoundly altering their chemical and physical properties"(Davies). The second phase was when multicelluar organisms emerged. For most of the history of Earth, only single-celled organisms existed, however, through this drastic change, "ordinary cells have outsourced their immortality to specialized germ cells"(Davies). This has to do with cancer because "cancer involves a breakdown of the covenant between germ cells and the rest" (Davies). Even though this is difficult to understand, it shows us that cancer has existed even before the evolution of man.

Searcher: HRT Treatment

Since we are on the topic of cancer this week and especially focusing on breast cancer I felt as if it was important to find an article that would be resourceful in evolutionary medicine. During the beginning of the semester we covered some aspects of women going through menopause and why it happens. Natural selection has altered women’s reproductive system for the purpose of survival and energy conservation.  I thought it may be important to reevaluate the HRT treatment as a negative therapy treatment.  The article Hormone therapy may raise risk of aggressive breast cancer talks about HRT (hormone replacement theory) to treat the symptoms of menopause are increasing risk of developing aggressive breast cancer. This seems to be an issue because breast cancer is predominantly seen in older women and those older women are around the age at which menopause occurs. Since there has been some correlation in breast cancer and HRT treatment older women should refrain from doing so.  After all natural selection has lowered certain hormones in a women’s body past a certain age for a reason and adding more is adding to a mismatch in the bodies normal hormone levels. It may be used to caution women about thinking of theraputic ways to think about coping with menopause symptoms.

Searcher- Is Cancer Contagious?

Recently Hugo Chavez died of an unknown (at least to us) form of cancer.  Before he died, he blamed the United States for giving him cancer by insinuating that we had the technology to infect people with cancer.  This is of course not true, but it does bring up the question of can cancers be contagious?  The answer is yes.

In some non human species, such as dogs and Tasmanian devils, animals can infect each other with cancer.  Essentially Tasmanian devils are nasty and fight well.  They rip up each other's jaws and if one has cancer in its jaw caused by facial tumor disease, then some of the cancerous cells from its jaw may be able to transplant themselves into the ripped up jaw of the opposing Tasmanian devil.  Since there is very limited genetic diversity amongst that species, the cells go unnoticed and multiply, eventually killing the creature. The cells are unnoticed because the cancer cells are so similar to the other cells in the devil's body that the immune system does not identify it as foreign and mount an attack.  Even when faced with some genetic diversity, the cells have discovered how to produced fewer cell markers that would identify it as a threat to the immune system.  Dogs are very similar, however their's is a sexually transmitted disease called canine transmissible venereal tumor.

So why haven't we heard of this occurring in humans?  Essentially because there is so much genetic diversity amongst our species that it is harder for a cell to fly under the radar because our cells have a wider diversity of cell markers.  There have however been cases.  For instance, a mother can transmit melanoma to her fetus and people getting organ transplant can get cancer from the donor.  In the case of transplant, the donor already had undetected cancer and the recipient is generally on immunosupressants so the immune system is unable to recognize the threat.  In short, cancer can be contagious, however not in the same sense that viruses are contagious.  Hugo Chavez was not zapped with a cancer beam, he simply got cancer.

Searcher - Adaptive Therapy?

In light of Professor Clancy’s lecture on Monday and a question raised on Wednesday, I was interested in the potential of Adaptive Therapy as opposed to the current way in which chemotherapy is used in the US. I read a brief article that discussed the findings of an experiment utilizing adaptive therapy among other forms chemotherapy. Adaptive therapy is a means of using chemotherapy that seeks to use the lowest dose of chemotherapy possible to sustain the existing tumors. This differs from the current usage of chemotherapy in which the maximum tolerable dose is used, hoping to most affect the tumor while keeping the patient alive. In the experiment a strain of breast cancer was exposed to a few forms of chemotherapy including adaptive therapy. The particular type of tumor cells surveyed was resistant to treatment when using the maximum tolerable dose (in this case to doxorubicin). The study showed that through adaptive therapy, the growth of the tumor cells could be prevented or sustained. In simulating the results of the study on breast cancer patients, it found that through adaptive therapy there was a potential for two to three fold increase over the use of the maximum tolerable dose. Further, the survival rate increased when combined with other forms of treatment, up to ten fold in one of the populations of the experiment. The author concludes questioning whether adaptive therapy could be used to prevent metastasis of the tumor given that the existing treatments, which utilize high doses, can in some cases drastically reduce the initial size. However, given that with increased chemoresistence the chances of metastasis increase, the author conjectures that if adaptive therapy were to be used with a chemo sensitive tumor, it may not promote metastasis.

Johanning, Gary L. "Chemotherapy: Too Much of a Good Thing." Chemotherapy: Open Access 1.5 (2012)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Searcher Post— Exploring the Evolution of Oral Cancer

Cancer is one of the more unfortunately diverse and broad issues the medical field has found itself dealing with. The intriguing characteristic about cancer is its ability to infect all parts of the human body. For this reason, I thought it would be of interest to myself, and hopefully the rest of the class, a closer look at oral cancer, and its evolution throughout time.

The origins of oral cancer, as we learned during lecture, are driven by both one’s genes and the environment. About 75% of oral cancers are linked to modifiable behaviors that include the excessive use of tobacco and alcohol consumption, poor hygiene, poor nutrition, ill-fitting dentures/ rough surfaces on the teeth, and chronic infections by bacteria (like HPV). When detected early, oral cancer can be prevented. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation however, “death rate associated with this cancer is particularly high not because it is hard to discover or diagnose, but due to the cancer being routinely discovered late in its development”. Other concerning facts about oral cancer (oral and pharynx) include: 42,000 individuals will be diagnosed this year alone. Thus, about 1 person every hour is killed by this sub-type of cancer, because of the 57% survival rate. This survival rate is not limited to only the United States. The prevalence of oral cancer can be cross-culturally examined as in The Open Nutraceuticals Journal . This article explores the molecular biology of oral cancers—and the reason behind higher genetic risk factors found among South Asian individuals.

Therapy of oral cancer is not always effective. If detected early, “stage I and II and be cured by surgery or radiation therapy but later stages, like III and IV are treated with radiotherapy or chemotherapy with 20% and 12% survival rates respectively”, according to Advances inthe biology or oral cancer. These methods of treatment of adaptive therapy result in a cultural lifestyle trade-off of the quality of life versus the quantity of life. For example through low dose chemotherapy, there is less strong selection pressures made thus sensitive cells are not killed, whereas responsive chemo cells are maintained. This way, resistant cells are unable to grow in new spots. In other words, one can either survive cancer (living with cancer) or completely get rid of cancer (with a lower fitness and life quality) and risk a relapse of the cancer.

In short, the existence of oral cancer was almost if not completely nonexistent during the age of our ancestors. The increase use of processed foods, agriculture, and uses of technology has exposed more viral infections and bacteria to the human oral cavity than ever before. It is inevitable that cancer treatment will become more progressive throughout the future years, and only time will tell just how effective it will be. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Evolution of Cancer

This week reading allows the readers to take a visual scientific journey to learn about an evolutionary way to view cancer. We’ve learned about accumulation of cells and their mutations during our lifetime (Somatic evolution), reasons why individual develop cancer, ways to achieve longevity via chemotherapy, as well as a host of other far-reaching material about evolution and cancer. And as scientist, “attempt to understand the reason why the system of the body are limited in their capacities to protect us from disease”; humans are still developing cancer despite the idea that our body has the capacity to protect us.  But the way in which we view cancer is being exemplified in the article entitled, “Evolutionary Foundation for Cancer Biology”, and we learned about six evolutionary explanations, and why organisms are vulnerable in developing cancer.  This article also explains how cancer is a rarity.

Even after reading this article, it is hard to believe that cancer is rare, because I know so many people who has cancer, and six family members that was diagnosed with cancer (could be a genetically based). It was interesting to read about chemo resisting cells and treating cancer with a lower dose of chemotherapy. When my Aunt Susan had cancer (she unfortunately passes away in 2005) she received radiation (Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells by damaging their DNA), and Chemotherapy. She was receiving the therapy at the highest does available, and reading this article I realized that the high does not necessarily mean you will be cured faster. I have had the pleasure to meet so many wonderful individuals who happen to have cancer, or who had cancer that is and was dong/going through chemotherapy. And most of the individual die due to the fast replication of the cancer cell, and metastasis.

Overall, this week readings demonstrate that cancer is a perplex condition and can be caused by multiple factors. You can develop cancer from genetic factors, hormone imbalances, too much energy intake, less energy output, tobacco availability, HPV, cell mutation, inflammation, change in neighboring support cell, genetic modification, infection, and overall can’t be prevented. Even though we can't prevent cancer, we treat the disease. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

First Reader: Cancer and Its Causes

Before our class lectures, I was not too informed about what causes cancer, partially because I have not known anyone very close to me that has been diagnosed with cancer – my understanding was that it was caused by mostly environmental factors and genetics along with very little influence from other factors presented in the reading such as poor diet and energy expenditure, but some of the factors presented were new to me (i.e. co-evolution with pathogens, evolved capacities for defense). Upon reflection, none of the article’s claims are surprising or immediately questionable. The article mentions that cancer is a disease that is not new to our modern environment, however, sometimes due to mismatch, certain types of cancer are obviously more common within it. Since cancer is majorly influenced by culture or lifestyle, this means that developed nations such as the United States are plagued with cancer more easily and more often, another throwback to our lessons concerning the negative consequences of industrialization. I think the most interesting part of the article is when it mentions faster growth rates being linked to higher cancer rates; I also think it’s frightening, because it applies to me, and now that I have been presented these additional causes of cancer, I realize that there could be a higher risk for me than I’ve previously thought – of course, this is not meant to be hypochondriacal self-diagnosis but rather a smarter awareness. 

First Reader: Foundations for Understanding Cancer

First, according to the reading by Aktipis and Nesse - Evolutionary foundations for Cancer biology; they use ecology theories and methods for understanding why we are vulnerable to cancer. There are six types of evolutionary explanations for traits that leave organisms vulnerable to disease; Mismatch with novel environments, Co-evolution with  fast evolving pathogens, Constraints on what selection can do, and the Trade-offs, Reproductive successes, and defenses with costs as well as benefits.

Next, the life of a cell is affected by various threats and opportunities (predatory immune cells), limited growth factors, oxygen, glucose, physical constraints, adjacent cells, and membranes in which they are attached. In addition, the normal micro-environment of cells and aggression and stress plays a critical role in cancer susceptibility. Therefore, changes to micro-environments are key factors in how cancer is initiated, progressed, and responds to treatments.

Finally, normal cells do not become malignant due to race, gender, or class. Malignant tumors evolve from genetic instabilities and mutator phenotypes. Moreover, changes to neighboring cells can enhance the growth of cancer cells, and bacterial and inflammation damages tissues and makes them more vulnerable to cancers. The importance of an evolutionary understanding of cancer comes from how it progresses (somatic evolution), how cancer cells interact with environments (ecological approaches), why it is not more common (natural selection for cancer suppression mechanisms), and why cancer suppression mechanisms can never be perfect (constraints, trade offs, and other evolutionary reasons for vulnerability to diseases).

Friday, April 19, 2013

Searcher: Early Impact of the HPV Vaccination Program

     This week's article on HPV vaccination basically looks into which U.S. groups are at high risk for cervical cancer and the different factors that may be contributing to the new cervical cancer cases that we're getting. It's upsetting to know that we have the resources to eventually rid the population of one type of cancer, and yet what's stopping this from happening have to do with the country's health system. While the U.S. struggles to target vaccination, especially to high-risk groups, I came across an article that was published yesterday on the NY Times and it discusses the accomplishments of the HPV vaccination campaign in Australia. This program began five years ago and it offers free HPV vaccination for girls and young women so it's not too surprising that there is a decrease in genital warts and cervical abnormalities among these young women. But what initially surprised me the most is that this program that's aimed for women is benefiting the Australian men as well! The genital wart rate is drastically decreasing among men who are under 30, and more specifically, it's estimated that rates decreased by about 82 percent among heterosexual men below 21. It's important to note that among girls who are under 21, the drop amounted to nearly 93 percent. It astonished me how close these numbers are to each other so I looked further into what the article describes as the 'herd immunity' and this is the phenomenon that explains how the high rate of immunization among young women is protecting young men. 

     A large group of people where the majority chooses to get vaccinated are referred to as the 'herd community'. But among this herd community are some unvaccinated people mingling around as well so when the infection spreads, the unvaccinated people basically have protection from all of the vaccinated people around them and they ultimately don't get sick. However, the people who chose not to get vaccinated and are located outside of the herd community do get sick. But there's another catch to this concept. If there aren't enough vaccinated people in the herd community, herd immunity will not succeed because there needs to be enough of the vaccinated people in the area to protect the non-vaccinated people who are mingling around them. This concept also explains how there's a 93 percent drop in genital warts in young women when only 85 percent were vaccinated. The herd immunity is protecting men as well as the unvaccinated women. 

     Although the study we read this week only focuses on the U.S., this really should be a priority for everyone because unlike other vaccines, this one has an extremely high potential of eradicating genital warts and it will get us one step closer to preventing cancers of the cervix, head and neck. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Searcher- Casual Sex

                I found an article on Google Scholar that explains the effects of casual sex among students in college. It relates to the topic we brought up about many different mating systems. Casual sex was described as sex without any commitments. The article constructed a survey and found that most people involved in casual sex are friends and also found that the friend aspect of casual sex leads to depression. Men were less likely to get depressed during casual sex than women. I was not sure if this is considered polygamy or serial monogamy. This kind of topic brings up another point that was brought up in class about pathogens. Casual sex with multiple partners may soon lead to STDs, for the more casual you become the less protection you use. A friend from my grammar school experienced the downside/upside (depending on how you look at it) of casual sex and ended up with a baby at 14. Luckily he had a baby instead of gaining a STD; however, it was life changing as you may imagine and he is struggling to make end meet as we speak. Casual sex and polygamy I think should not be ideal for most men and women for the after effects could be more negative than positive. It may lead to a baby with someone you never thought of be in a relationship with, but now you are bonded with that person forever whether you like it or not and it may also lead to the gain in pathogens. In the end it can also lead to emotional problems such as depression as mentioned before so better to me committed than not.

Searcher: Infectious Disease

Disease and illness are not cool. In fact, reading about epidemics and things shutting down my bodily functions has a tendency to terrify me. As an avid gamer, however, I've chanced upon these topics in a few rather unusual places. One such place is with the game Pandemic, which now has two sequels. Pandemic is a game in which you play as a virus, with the aim of infecting the entire globe. You can choose different evolutionary paths along the way, and each choice has varying trade offs for your survival. I personally have never beaten the game, but it has become an incredibly complex and fascinating simulation of how evolution and adaptability functions.
Another place I've seen talk of disease is in World of Warcraft. I don't personally play World of Warcraft, but I stumbled upon an article one day discussing an accidental plague which spread through the several million player online world, wreaking a great deal of havoc along the way. This virtual pandemic was so widespread and well documented that scientists decided to use it as a model for studying epidemics in the real world.
Unfortunately, the real world doesn't allow respawns, which alters the risk-taking behaviors of those involved. However, it turns out that scientists in Chicago (along with some from our very own campus!) set out to make their own virtual world, one with alterable parameters, allowing for control over variables in a large scale social science experiment. Their focus will be mainly on trade and economics, but they most certainly could move to introduce an epidemic similar to that of World of Warcrafts. I feel that studies such as these may provide much needed data on how people react to a pandemic, and as such, look forward to seeing what they will produce.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Searcher: Maintaining Sexual Health in Adolescents

          Sexual and reproductive health varies widely across the world, which Marilyn Rice describes in her article here. In a developed country, such as the United States, sexual education is often a part of school curriculum. Other countries do not have this as an option. Young women in particular are at particular risk, not just of becoming pregnant, but of contracting diseases and infections. As adolescents, these girls do not have the social status or power over their own bodies needed to take proper care of their bodies. If her condition is left untreated, it could mean more serious consequences in the future, such as dangerous pregnancy or infertility.
            Developing countries need access to the information necessary to make an informed decision when it comes to sexual health. In some African and Asian countries, the female fraction of the student body in schools is significantly less than for males. Even if sexual education is offered in some form in schools, girls may not be there to hear it. In these countries, females are lower on the social hierarchy than males. It may be more important to her family that she helps out around the house than receives an education. The author of this article cites a supportive family environment as an effective way to provide information to adolescents. In addition, she talks about how religious organizations should take part as well. I found this interesting because the data Professor Clancy showed in class demonstrated this as an ineffective method.
            There are many factors involved in maintaining sexual health in adolescents. It seems as though adolescents are experimenting sexually at a younger age than previous generations. As a result, it is important to keep them informed. Along with this comes creating an environment of gender equality, which can help women have the power they need to make decisions about their own bodies.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Respondent: “How To Heal”

The readers learn early in the chapters that the process of infection via microorganisms is a subtle issue. It’s remarkable to learn about evolution through every form of life, from the smallest to the biggest organisms. What’s even more amazing is to learn about organisms that are naked to the human eye. The transmission process of the microbial is perplexed and the invasion/infection process varies depending on the individual. As seen in chapter 8, “Some are sick for days, or become hospitalized, whereas others are mildly ill for only one or two days”. Cara mentioned her sister-in-law being ill from the flu, and though she wanted to treat the, “Inconvenient symptoms of the flu”, I think it is also import to let incurable bacterial diseases to run its course by allowing your body to heal naturally.

Even though Cara’s sister-in-law was trying to go back to work as soon as possible, it is important to note that the symptoms of the flu can be masked, but the virus will still be in ones body. Going to work with the flu virus signs and symptoms masked can easily be communicable, and a hazard to others. 

I agree with Cara 100% when she discussed the fact that the, “closer contact with animals and people, the setting of towns, and changes in diets are all factors that increase the spread of disease”.  Working in a health care environment 36 hours per week, I understand the importance of hand washing, universal precaution, sterile technique, and anything that can protect the patients, and healthcare providers from spreadable disease.  I agreed with the chapter (under How Pathogens spread) that there is a huge possibility that, “It can be a caretaker who carries germs from one sick patient to a well person”, but I disagree when they used an example of, “one needle stick being used on one sick patient then used on a well person”. As health care provider who has done multiple, “needle sticks” since age sixteen, I have never stuck another patient with someone else needle (nor have I heard of another nurse of doctor sticking a patient with another patients needle). The act of sticking one patient with someone else needle is unacceptable, and the health care provider that did the act need to be reprimanded for their incompetence.

On the other hand, future epidemics, and pandemics are very likely, and feared. With the world health organization, Center of Disease Control, Researcher, medical Doctors hopefully the world will be safe enough so that infections will not kill a third of the population. But I think since we as a society overuse Antibiotic, we may see an epidemic or pandemic that claims a third of the population’s life, due to resistance to these important drugs. And we should remember that some drug help ease the symptoms of viruses, and bacterial infections but not cure (viruses in particular).

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Infectious Diseases First Reader

           There are so many things to consider when one mentions the word disease. As noted from the readings, the concept is dense; there are a variety of mechanisms, hypotheses, causations, types, and transmission methods. Because I do want to become a physician in the future, I am studying a lot of disease mechanisms and triggers in my biology courses. I feel like the material is highly relevant to me in understanding the basic science behind diseases.

            The chapters in Medical Anthropology overlapped with a lot of the information I had previously been exposed to, such as the immune system and antibody/antigen recognition, viral infections, and modes of pathogenic transmission. It even reinforced a lot of my research I was doing for my 20% project on allergies. Though I am specifically analyzing food allergies, the idea is essentially the same. A food allergy is nothing more than an inflammatory response triggered by your immune system when it comes across a foreign antigen. Those allergic to specific foods cannot properly recognize the antigens found in that food.

            What I found interesting were the proposed hypotheses for rates of allergy and asthma. To me, it seems as if the Hygiene Hypothesis would be more relevant to the spread of diseases rather than the spread of allergies. Hygiene typically involves the killing of bacteria and microbes instead of masking of antigens, so it was surprising to me that the Hygiene Hypothesis has become prominent. On the same page as hygiene, I do believe that the increased need for cleanliness in developed countries has contributed to infections. Similar to antibiotic resistance, the continuous repression of less harmful forms of illness and pathogens can lead to growth in rates. However, how should this be combated? It’s unrealistic to expect patients and physicians not to take immediate action in the face of “danger”. Instead of limiting people’s resources, I believe focusing on new research and treatment methods is moving in the right direction.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Researcher Viruses in Contaminated Water

I did  not see Group 4 for this week - not sure if I need to post a blog.

So I decided to play it safe and did some research on viruses in contaminated water. A good example of parasites in contaminated water is in the Sub-Saharan in Africa and South Asia. In these developing countries there are people living in extreme poverty. In addition, these individuals do not have access to safe water, clean sanitation, nor instructions for good hygiene. Large areas in Asia have no access to sanitary disposal of human waste. Therefore, failure to dispose of waste properly can contaminate water and food sources leading to an increase in the transmission of pathogens orally. Consequently, this has lead to the spread of waterborne parasites that infect and kill 8.8 million children a year. These parasites are ingested orally, enters into the  intestines, and effect the liver and brain. As a result, many are ill, their growth are stunted, whether or not children enroll in school, and it impairs proper mental and physical development.

There are numerous parasites and pathogens that contaminate children as they are bathing or playing in the water. Unfortunately, it is the same body of water that is used for defecating, or cleaning fecal matter from the body or soiled clothes. Other parasites and pathogens include waterborne parasites; Entamoeba histolytica, Giardia Intestinalis, Cryptosporidium Parvum.
In addition, there are bacterial enteropathogens; salmonella (found in chicken, ground beef, and turtles), Shigella (can be found in men who have sex with men), Escherichia Coli, Vibrio Cholerae.

I found this information in my Global Health textbook by Richard Skolnik (2012), chapter 8, and
The Center for Disease and Prevention (2010).

Monday, April 8, 2013

First Reader: How to heal

My sister-in-law was ill with the flu a few weeks ago and needed to get back on her feet quickly to go back to work. My immediate response was to encourage her to ask her doctor for Tamiflu which is a drug that works to treat the inconvenient symptoms of the flu virus. But does the convenience of symptom solving drugs create a future of inconveniences? According to chapters eight through ten the answer is probably.

Being a History major, I like to apply everything we learn in class to where it might fit most appropriately on a historical timeline. As nerdy as this may make me the biggest event I could associate with these readings was the Black Death. A disease spread through massive population shifts to urban environments and through the transmission of rats the plague was one of the most deadly events in human history. Of course, people of that time believe that the plague was a punishment bestowed by God. Now we are able to determine the spread of disease that facilitate events like these. This also holds true for the increase in disease as a result of the industrial revolution that the chapters mention. Closer contact with animals and people, the settling of towns, and changes in diets are all factors that increase the spread of disease.

These events bring us to today. We still have epidemics like the most recent flu which claimed multiple lives this year. It makes me wonder that if epidemics of the past claimed nearly a third of the population (black death) is it better to treat just the symptoms so that we can quickly return to our day to day activities or should we let our bodies natural response take over. Personally, I think drugs like Tamiflu and Dayquil should be used in moderation although I am certainly guilty of overusing them in an attempt to go to work or school sooner. Maybe I should take a dose of my own “natural” medicine instead.