Sunday, March 31, 2013

[First Respondent] Will We Ever Truly Understand Diseases?

This week's reading put many things into perspective for me. Ewald's view on chronic diseases highlights how human are approaching health care, specifically how health professions mainly cure the results of a disease, not the primal cause. An example that was given involved smoking and heart disease. Smoking does not cause chronic heart disease, but it is very likely that smoking allows the body to be more vulnerable to pathogens that increase the possibility of it. Smoking is linked to a huge array of health related problems and highly addictive, but doctors cannot force someone to stop smoking, which means they cannot cure one of the primal causes for many complications. Ewald demonstrates that unless the ultimate cause of the disease is addressed and cured, treating the symptoms will only go so far. The patient is more likely to go into remission and the disease will be more deadly than before.
I took the lesson that humanity is looking in the wrong direction to address issues. Too often we try to cure the surface problems and rarely delve deeper to try to attack the root of many chronic conditions. Simple lifestyle choices such as smoking or eating correctly really can affect many different facets of a person's health. Many people do very harmful things to their body because they don't see a direct effect; they don't realize that their actions often set off a chain reaction that affects a huge list of things. The fact that many actions don't have a direct affect also causes it's own problems however. Since many actions cause indirect affects, the question can be validly raised if we'll ever truly understand a disease because of the confounding factors that are involved.
Overall, I think this week's reading raised many questions that I had not previously thought of and challenged my views on modern medicine's take upon curing diseases.

[First Respondent] A Tough Fight in the Dark

One of the toughest battles the medicine is fighting today is that against atherosclerosis. The main problem is has been going on for so long and the reason it has been so energy consuming is that the enemy is hiding way too deep, way too well.

Chronic diseases show their symptoms way too late in their progression, leaving their cause obscure. That's why the list of possible causes of, atherosclerosis ranges from smoking to bad alleles.

It is mind blowing to see the causes getting reevaluated and researched all the time: for example, recently it has been evaluated that e4 allele is, in fact, not "broken", as it has been mostly replaced with e3 and e2 type alleles. The rest of the possible causes proposed are all intelligent guesses made after loads of research and consideration.

But wait, there is more. In the dark room that is atherosclerosis where causes are unknown, search for remedies is extra hard and requires experimentation. Omega-3 fatty acids and aspirin preventing deadly heart complications - would you guess that right of the bat?

To conclude, I am truly impressed by the uphill battle against chronic diseases the medicine had been fighting for the last few decades.

First Respondent - Chronic Diseases Are Anything But Simple

                Chapter 19 was a chapter that cleared up information for me. I know diseases are complicated and this just proved how complicated and why. I never knew the form of how diseases are caused, which was interesting, and so many factors can come together and cause a disease but to find the main cause is the hardest part. Reading the chapter I could only think about how when someone is in the hospital and there are misdiagnosed, no cure for their disease, or when the causes of the symptoms are unknown and families or patients are SO MAD!! They don’t understand why a doctor isn’t doing their job or why it takes so long to get answers, and I feel like sometimes people don’t understand how complicated the situations are, even though medical advancement has come up so much from previous years.
                The saying of “Too much of a good thing is bad,” is also something that popped into my head. The chapter also talked about how some things seem to help prevent or reduce Atherosclerosis, but who knows what is going to happen when someone takes too much of those good things, something else in their body can be effected. It always seems as if something can go wrong so finding a good medium of staying healthy and not going doing things that harm your body in any sense is complicated and not accessible to everyone.

First Respondent- Chronic Disease at Its Source

     This week's reading put a lot of emphasis on the importance of treating the primary cause of the disease and not just casual links.  For instance, smoking does not cause heart disease but it is highly possible that it body more susceptible to certain pathogens that increase the likelihood of heart disease.  All in all it seemed very focused to me.  I wonder how much scientists know about early human and early hominid lifestyles.  Clearly smoking is bad for you because it is linked to countless diseases and is addictive.
     The different theories mentioned were really interesting.  For instance, some people believe that the allele e4 (which is linked to Alzheimer's  multiple sclerosis, and atherosclerosis)is poorly constructed or hasn't shown to be deadly until recently.  These are both wrong because about 50% of people who survived to reproductive age lived to be older than 65, so the fact these conditions would have shown in our ancestors.  Also, the allele has been displaced over the last 200,000 years in humans by e2 and e3, suggesting that e4 is not defective.
     I took the chapter in the book to mean that current research is often looking in the wrong direction.  We should be looking at how to prevent certain pathogens from entering the body or treating the genetic part of genetic diseases instead of worrying about other exacerbating factors.  While I agree that it is important to find ways to prevent the root causes of chronic conditions, it is also important to understand the other factors so that we can learn as much about the condition as possible.

First Respondent— Integrating the Causes of Chronic Diseases

 Paul Ewald's informative piece on chronic diseases, in particular atherosclerosis highlights an essential but lacking facet of modern day medicine and how humans approach health complications. Modern day health professionals often seek to cure proximate causes, and are thus limited to proximate-level perceptions. I bring this common pattern up, as does Ewald. He demonstrates how this constricted thinking has caused many individuals to overlook ultimate-levels of causation in denoting chronic diseases. By eliminating and curing symptoms, it is inevitable that the root of the disease itself is not cured, and the ability for it to rise up again is very likely, in a fashion far more dangerous and less preventable.

Before this week's reading, I had never realized the spectrum of complexity the mere term "risk factor" holds: primary and secondary correlations instead of causation. Often it is thought, by myself in particular, that possible risk factors can be considered as adverse causes the stronger and detrimental they are to the individual. In other words, if a risk factor of a disease or medication is high blood pressure, the prior existence of high blood pressure greatly increases just how negative the risk factor is. This in turn, is what may appear to be the "cause" of a chronic disease as opposed to the mere correlation; especially because the risk factors accounted for are not present in all people. As mentioned before, Chapter 19 focused on the ultimate causation of one chronic disease through three possible hypotheses. It was warming to notice that these hypotheses were actually based off of concepts we have already discussed in class. For example, the rich diet hypothesis hints at how change (environmental, societal, and technological) has been developing far too quickly for biological evolution and natural selection to adapt to. This aligns with the thrifty genotype hypothesis which sheds light on the mismatch theory. The bad allele hypothesis looks at fitness trade-offs; for example the presence of an allele in all humans for the degree of its expression and purpose it serves. And lastly, the longevity hypothesis demonstrates how the persistent existence of alleles (even the bad ones) don’t have to be experienced in a species until environmental factors trigger them. Thus, many confounding factors are able to complicate our understanding in the exact cause of chronic diseases.

Overall, the significance of understanding all possible causes of infectious and chronic diseases is critical to diagnose, treat and even more importantly prevent stronger strains. But the causes stem beyond our typical perceived understanding into realm of risk factors. As a result, we retain integrated influences that work together to provide holistic measures and analyses of chronic diseases.
After reading this chapter, it brought to my attention once again the issue of the treatment of chronic diseases. It seems that drugs versus holistic care of infections approach risk factors and causation through different angles. In my opinion, holistic care uses a more integrated perspective of the above hypotheses whereas prescribing drugs is limited to more of the “bad allele” hypothesis. Perhaps the evolution of medicine will recognize the integration of both these viewpoints. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Searcher - Pitocin versus Oxytocin

There seems to be these drastically conflicting images surrounding birth. On the one hand, birth is regard as a beautiful, miraculous event in which another being is created from the mother’s being, emerging new in this world. On the other hand, it has been widely represented as dangerous, excruciating, and an unnatural process for the mother.

The only images of birth I have seen up until now are of mothers-to-be, lying helplessly on their backs, writhing in agony, in a cold room, surrounded by overly-protected medical practitioners yelling commands and prodding at the mother. The whole operation seemed doomed with fear, danger, embarrassment and uncertainty. Honestly, how is this supposed to be a beautiful experience?

Bearing a child does not have to be a traumatizing experience though. Perhaps, these two opposite extreme images surrounding birth exist because two very different approaches to birth have to be considered.  One consists of the heavily drugged-intervened hospital approach and the other is an all-natural home birth approach. There are obviously many in between scenarios that take advantage of both approaches.

There is a very important aspect to the all-natural approach however that needs to be considered. After watching The Business of Being Born, labor and birth can be a very transcendent experience for the woman. And really I think it’s truly close to thievery to steal that empowering moment from her.

The oxytocin that the mother’s body releases during the birthing process is not only important for physiological reasons, such as in the labor process, bonding with the child after birth and breast feeding, but for psychological ones as well. Oxytocin acts to ease stress. So imagine, laboring extensively for hours on end, to finally birth your own child. With a rush of oxytocin and the relief of labor being over, that feeling must be overwhelmingly amazing.

There has been plenty of research to suggest that administering pitocin, synthetic oxytocin, to mothers in labor interrupts this feeling for the mother and the bonding between mother and child. There was a studied done in 2007 in BMC Neuroscience, conducted at the University of Memphis, that suggests that pitocin can have long term effects to the child’s nervous system too, affecting their social behavior.

The study does not necessarily suggest that these effects happen in humans, because the study was done on voles. The study theorizes that the interaction between mother and offspring after birth greatly influences the future social behavior of the offspring; this is at least true for the voles. It is clear, however, that administering pitocin directly influences the post-natal interaction between a mother and a child. 

Searcher: Home Birth Risks

I was interested in the possible risks associated with home birth, as home birth has been focused on in the documentary and the article and blog from this week’s readings. I am interested in this topic because in the documentary we saw in class I find quite problematic the selection of interview sources the director decided to include. It seems that the people selected to speak in the film are overwhelmingly in support of home birth (with a large proportion of these directly profiting from them) and the film really does not seem to explore any well-articulated counterarguments. Rather, the people selected to speak in the film seem to be quite willing to make some sloppy arguments. For instance for one of the interviewees (paraphrase) “[when comparing US women to those of other nations with higher rates of midwife utilization] some say that women in the US are on average higher risk. But you can’t blame women.” No of course they should not be blamed, but to wholly disregard a topic such as this is negligent and irresponsible.

I tried to find a few articles about the possible risks associated with home birth. The article I found on Jezebel claims that there are higher rates of perinatal death associated with homebirth when compared against low-risk hospital births, and that a common study sited by advocates to show the safety of home births was actually based on old hospital death rates and when used with rates from the 2000, the mortality rate for home births nears three times as high. However, the author does claim multiple times throughout the article that this is an under researched area (as does, as the author cites, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists). However with regard to homebirths, I think the article has a quite fitting conclusion: 

Ultimately, while home births are undoubtedly empowering for those who have had positive experiences, women who question the safety of a particular birthing option should not be made to feel as though they are weak or ignorant chumps who've been conned by the medical profession. A call for more studies on home births does not equate to doubting the amazing capabilities of the female body. After all, what's more empowering than being completely educated when making a choice?

The article I found in the Huffington Post seems to echo many of the same concerns raised in the aforementioned article. Adding that homebirth presents added risks for first time mothers as the risk of needing to be rushed to the hospital last minute is much higher than for a woman who has had at least one child. The article also notes that the rate of planned homebirths increases with age, however, as age increases so too do risks to the mother and baby.

However, it seems clear from the articles as well as from the information available from a cursory internet search that the existing information is lacking and that the issue needs to be studied further.

Week 10 Searcher: The Midwife as a Status Symbol

          The concept of midwifery really triggered some thought for me this week. I’ll be honest that I had forgotten about midwives. Even housecall doctors I assumed were a rare sighting and a practice of the past. Especially since I’ve always wanted to become a physician and admired their life-saving capabilities and knowledge, the concept of a hospital being a place of harm rather than healing was very foreign to me. Sure, the hospital isn’t perfect and neither is the law, given physician-assisted suicide, euthanasia, patient autonomy, medical malpractice, etc…However, it never occurred to me that birthing—such an ongoing and natural process—was an area of issue in hospital practice. 
            Viewing The Business of Being Born really changed my perspective on how I viewed the birthing process and what the birthing process means to women. Giving birth is powerful, natural, and every other organism on earth does it without fuss, so why has it become such a complicated ordeal for humans? The goal of midwives seems to be to help women return to the natural birthing process as well as allowing women to experience their own birth without unnecessary interference. Though the documentary portrayed midwifery as a rare practice in the United States, a TIME article, The Midwife as Status Symbol, spoke otherwise. Personally, I can see the use of midwives becoming a trend in the states. People in society tend to gravitate towards revived and unique techniques as a means of social status, personal fulfillment, curiosity, etc…just think vintage clothing and fad diets! Being a hip and healthy method, I could very well see the young generation reaching out to midwives in order to achieve a natural, earthly birth. After all, who wouldn’t want the best for their baby?
            The only issue that the article mentioned in regards to using midwives is their limited availability. Because midwives need time forming a dedicated and personal relationship with the mother, they may only be able to assist in 20 births a month. Availability could quickly fill up with a particular midwife and your baby isn’t going to wait to come out! In viewing the second half of the documentary tomorrow, I am hoping to learn if there are any more complications that could arise with midwives.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Responder:Inducing Birth

I can definitely relate to Andrew in the sense of never really paying attention to a women’s process throughout pregnancy and labor. Yes, I do believe that women should have a choice in what type of birth they would like but I feel that women have drifted their ideas of having a natural birth because of the horrific depiction shown through the media. Andrew brought up a valid point stating “people have been giving birth without the assistance of modern medicine since the existence of humanity” which was never an issue neither in third world countries until the industrialization and modern medicine which claims to be the safeties—when truly it isn’t. I felt as if the article and blog Professor Clancy had written gave a different and deep understanding of what women should really understand about hospital birthing. It was an eye opener to see that hospitals see child delivery as a business and when the fetus is not ready to come they induce the mother with medication that can harm both the baby and the mother. While the mothers aren’t really informed that it is safe for the child to not be born on the due date because of the baby occupying the uterus to get its full supplement and feel safe. I believe that women should raise the awareness of natural birthing and also the options of not artificially inducing a women but the various natural ways such as “nipple stimulation” or so fourth.  This has definitely mad me understand that birthing a child isn’t as complicated as media makes it seem but rather it is a natural and beautiful thing when not complicated.

Searcher: "Natural" isn't natural

The documentary and reading for this week are on subjects that I have been delaying thinking about largely because the act of bearing children in general is terrifying to me. However, I’m realizing that what I was probably afraid of was the Westernized, dramatic, hospital child births I have seen on TV. Being able to see the other side (the more granola side as Ricki Lake calls it) is really enlightening.

The documentary throws into sharp contrast the Americanized form of birthing with the rest of the world and I believe that this carries through with mot Western ideas of birth. There is a constant rush to induce labor and get the baby out as soon as possible. It is strange then, that many women consider there to be “natural” ways to induce labor. I found a forum of women trading tips on  how to "naturally" induce labor. This begs the question if one has to induce labor is there anything natural about it? Not really. Even some of the women on the forum who claimed to be having a natural birth were desperately trying to induce labor. This comes from the Americanize thought that babies and expectant mothers are on a timeline. Granted, the gestation period for babies is 9 months but that is an average. Some babies will need more time and some will need less.
Some of these strange methods include eating unusual food, ingesting herbs, and body part stimulation. These methods are bizarre and the farthest thing from natural. Unless a pregnancy is majorly complicated babies should be born in their own good time.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Responder: Common Male Questions About Female Healath

In Elon's first reader post, he asked a few questions about women's health that surprised me. The first was that if menstrual cycles are how women get cleansed, then do obese women who do not have their menstrual cycle not get cleansed? I never thought about this problem before and realized just how serious that it is. If the uterine walls are not shed on a regular basis, they can become abnormally thick and have a higher risk for uterine cancer. Regular menstrual cycles shed the walls and reduce this risk, but if regular cycles are not an option, then medication or surgery is the best option in order to ensure the health of the woman. 
The second question was what other problems can arise from not having a regular menstrual cycle. In order to answer this, I think it's important to note what causes irregular menstrual cycles in the first place. Irregular cycles can be caused by pregnancy or breast-feeding, eating disorders, extreme weight loss, excessive eating, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and premature ovarian failure ( As you can see, there is a very large number of things that cause irregular cycles. All of these causes are linked to other health problems as well. Because of this, it is very hard to find out what not having regular menstrual cycles truly affects.

First Reader: The Future Complications of C-sections

This week's readings and the documentary that we're watching this week revolve around becoming aware of some of the issues surrounding reproduction. After I watched the first half of the film in class today, I was able to make a correlation that ultimately gave me a sense of enlightenment about an issue I never put much thought into. My mother was born and raised in Gaza and she has five kids in total. I'm the oldest of my siblings and we were all born in Gaza except for my six year old sister. Out of the five, only one was born in the United States. Out of the five, only one had a Cesarian section. I'm sure you're already seeing the connection here. In The Business of Being Born, it was stated that 5% of women in the U.S. had the Cesarian section surgery in 1965. A few decades later and that rate increased to about 1 in 4 women that had C-sections. So not only has the number of women giving birth by Cesarian section increased by 46% since 1996, but the rate is only going to keep on increasing. After a discussion with my mom, who worked as a medical technologist in Gaza, about the Gazan hospital environment for women during birth, I realized that there really is a major difference between giving birth in a Gazan hospital and giving birth in a hospital in Chicago. Dr. Clancy points out in Late Pregnancy, Labor Induction, and the Occupy Uterus Movement that "being "overdue" is a medical construct more than a biological reality" and that it leads to the empowerment of "health professionals to intervene rather than just monitor pregnancy". Dr. Clancy also points out that the baby will come out when it's ready no matter how many people are in a rush for the baby to be born. But the problem arises when doctors feel the need to come between this process and make the assumption that implementing C-section is the answer. My mother described giving birth in a Chicago hospital like a military operation carrying out a strict set of commands. This is a huge difference than some of the women we saw in the film who had an almost silent, yet peaceful birth process. Not only has this week's readings (and the film so far, as well) opened my eyes on many reproduction-related issues, but it also made me genuinely scared about the current crisis of Cesarian sections and what risks the increase of Cesarian sections will be linked to in future births. 

Responder: Midwives the New Trend

I found the movie in class to be SUPER intriguing. I never knew midwives were so popular, but then again in America hospitals are pushed to seem that they are the best when it comes to maternal care. One of the things that I really liked about the movie was that the midwives weren’t against hospitals. The view that I was always heard about midwives was that they were against it and that they didn’t want their maternal patients to have anything with hospitals. This made complete sense to me because the midwives were there to assist in natural birth but knew that the doctors and OB/GYN were surgeons and if there were any complications then they would take them to the hospitals. They never left the idea of hospitals out. It opened my eyes because my older sister is 8 months pregnant and there was no other thought in her mind besides a hospital for where and how she was having her baby.  Mostly I think she never gave it a second thought was because of how our culture portrays hospitals and my mom. My mom had 3 girls each without epidurals and I think this gives my sister the thought of having a natural birth even though its most likely she won’t. I don’t even know if my mom realized or knew that some of the drugs were given in her IV as well. I think having the information available about midwives would be important but it is really something many women don’t know about. I feel like now I would like to have a midwife because I know not all doctors can be trusted and do things for the better of the patient but for them. 

During the movie I was also wondering if all are medically trained and prepared for emergencies? And how much experience they have or if it varies. I feel like this is also an key part in women picking midwives and a fact that can change the view of midwives. 

First Reader: Inducing Birth

As a guy, I've never really put a lot of thought into the process of birth. As far as I understood it, you went to the hospital, there was a lot of screaming and yelling, and then the baby came out. The readings for this week, as well as the in class film, have definitely changed how I view the process of birth. In our society, birth is seen as something unclean, and in some ways, even unnatural. We've become so accustomed to the sterilized hospital birth setting that we've forgotten that people have been giving birth without the assistance of modern medicine since the existence of humanity (obviously). Seeing as our entire existence is based around the continuation of our species, one would hope we'd be properly equipped to reproduce.

As it turns out, we are properly equipped. What we aren't, however, is properly informed. What needs to happen is a shift of power from the doctors to the mothers, or to take it one step further, to the fetus itself. As discussed in the article, Late Pregnancy, Labor Induction, and the Occupy Uterus Movement, it may very well be the fetus' decision when to head out into the world, not the mother's. At first, I was fascinated by this concept, but after thinking about it, I realize just how much sense it makes. Life isn't an exact science, and human beings can't be reduced to simple variables. Each person is different, a product of both their environment and genetics. When the baby is ready to come out, it will do so. In my opinion, we should respect that, along with the mother's wishes.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Respondent Post: Evolutionary Selection of Hormone Levels

In response to Heather's inquiry of the natural selection process of high hormone levels in women, I'd like to start by saying she brings up a good point of how counter intuitive the lack of selecting against high hormonal levels appears. However, I think it is important to also keep in mind the pace at which we have usually observed natural selection and evolution to occur and compare it to the rate at which human culture changes. Within the past several hundred years alone (let alone this decade), mankind and the earth has witnessed great changes environmentally, biologically, and culturally. These factors together play key roles in affecting one another's influence and speed at which it occurs. It is very likely that natural selection choosing against these traits is and has been occurring, but far too slow for anyone to yet notice. Or perhaps, Mother Nature is more clever than she appears and has a plan in not selecting against high hormonal levels in women. In other words, lately females in more developed countries have been living longer and able to have more healthier offspring. Could it be that these benefits from living in a westernized/modernized nation outweigh the potential negative health costs summoned by high insulin and hormonal levels? The trade-off between the two is one possessing great uncertainty--uncertainty natural selection wants to avoid. At this point, there doesn't seem a way to know for sure without the impact of confounding variables. More difficulty in deciphering this puzzle is centered in the drastic differences in styles of living of individuals in less developed countries, compared to "modern" nations. They too, have witnessed longer life spans, and healthier births (but at a rate far slower than developed countries, that it may have been viewed as negligible by many). So, at this point in the world's development and growth, it is inevitable to say, "only time will tell". A long time. But in the end, natural selection works out and reproductive success is evolution's first and foremost primary goal. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

First Reader- Women Problems!! (not to offend)

In the article Impaired Reproductive Function in Women in Western and “Westernizing” Populations, Tessa M. Pollard and Nigel Unwin analyzes the effects that high and increasing levels of obesity and insulin resistance and insulin in Western and Westernizing populations have on a women’s ability to reproduce. They found that high insulin levels have a negative effect for a women’s ability to reproduce by causing reduced fecundity. They also found that high levels of insulin correlates with irregular menstrual cycles, hyperandrogenism, and that the increase in insulin is associated with obesity that may cause type II Diabetes. As a final note the author mentioned that women with hyperinsulinemia in these societies increase their chances of reproductive cancer.

Before reading this chapter the only thing I knew that correlated with high levels of insulin was obesity. I never thought of how it may reflect on a women’s ability to reproduce, among the other things mentioned. I read a section in the chapter that also talked about the effects that obesity has on women and their women problems, it said that it can cause infrequent menstrual cycles or remove a women’s ability to have menstrual cycles. I’m not sure how a women’s body works, but I thought that the menstrual cycles were a way of cleansing a women and if it is does, does that mean that most women who are obese and have an absence in menstruation not get cleansed? And if so what other problems could that bring?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

First Reader: Higher Hormone Levels…What’s Next?

Chapter 8 written by Tessa M. Pollard and Nigel Unwin describes the effect of westernization on a woman’s reproductive function. In Western populations (populations that are developed and industrialized), higher levels of hormones such as estradiol and progesterone can be found in a female’s body compared to non-Western populations. With these higher levels of ovarian hormones comes an increased risk for breast cancer, as well as a higher level of insulin resistance. Ovarian function has been found to affect insulin resistance. This is in addition to the prominent presence that obesity has of influencing insulin. Obesity is linked to Type II diabetes.

            Back to looking at how reproduction is affected: elevated hormone levels seem to be a negative consequence of westernization. If this leads to impairment of reproduction and ovarian function, why have high hormone levels not been selected against evolutionarily? Perhaps less-developed countries are better off with lower levels. Women in non-Western populations are not affected in their quality of life in this way as are Western women. Not only are these functions influenced, but hyperinsulinemia can also result, leading to elevated risks for certain types of cancer. I would assume that natural selection would lower hormone levels over time if all of the above is in fact the case, although the opposite appears to be true. Why is this not the case?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Researcher: More to Mother Nature's "Monthly" Gift

 First off, Happy Pie Day!

Now that I have your attention, I’d like to change to focusing on female menstruation. (That’s easy enough). As a girl, it is quite easy to understand through experience the delicate changes nature and nurture can provide to a woman’s menstrual cycle. It seems like the central issue revolving around menstruation is what a “normal” cycle is, particularly its duration. Thus, to avoid being outside or a routine cycle, birth control is often a solution (however beneficial it may be) to this concern. I am interested in what constitutes as the “biological norm” for humans. Years ago, our ancestral mothers experienced only around 150 [] menstrual cycles as opposed to the 450 women in westernized nations have. Many cancers are reduced with fewer periods, while still maintaining the ability to reproduce.

“"[H]ormones and tranquilizers are often used to fatten livestock and keep them calm, respectively. In people however, these drugs can be quite harmful"(161). The hormone diethylstilbestron or DES has been known to cause vaginal cancer and gynecological abnormalities in women, and because of these effects, DES was entirely banned in 1972. Recently one FDA official insisted, "DES has been used for over 20 years as a growth promotant in animals without any indication of danger to humans" (qtd. in Null 161-2)”. []

Yikes. This correlation is quite understandable, but the extent to which it impacts women is quite profound. It seems that the addition of hormones in a women’s body (from dairy and meat) emphasizes the difference in hormones already being experienced in the body…thus, women’s bodies are that much more sensitive to their level of hormones. This clarifies why my mom advised again drinking too much diary or eating meats during this time. Even still, this article elaborates on how the addition of hormones induces young girls into experiencing periods at an earlier age than the previous generation. It would be interesting to better understand Mother Nature’s outlook on this new pattern.

On the side, I’d like to share one such pattern of our very own Professor’s article ! Menstrual synchrony is a weird phenomenon that I myself even find truth to more often than not. My hypothesis before reading the blog about menstrual synchrony was that women in packs were/are more likely to have offspring around the same time? Which, from an evolutionary standpoint, make sense. To maximize the survival of offspring, a larger group of offspring is capable of providing a larger support system of social acceptance and health support increasing chances of survival. But there are very likely other factors that play into this natural and subtle correlation.

Overall, I personally find the holistic evolutionary development of menstrual cycles quite interesting. The role they play in sustaining the human race is very powerful. It appears that the interaction between the environment and women’s own interaction with one another and biologically play an even more vital role than we have been anticipating. As more countries become more westernized and modern, it will be interesting to watch the trend of how menstrual cycles in women adapt to new environments, and just as importantly, medicine.

[Searcher] The Pill

Recently we've been talking a lot about the Pill and human contraception in general. When we discussed the effects of the progesterone levels and a other few sides effects, I was surprised. I didn't know any of these side effects and was surprised how little I truly knew about the Pill. When researching for this post I decided to focus on side effects of the Pill that people may not know about. Since the Pill is one of the most studied prescriptions that a physician can prescribe, I think that there really is no excuse for my previous ignorance.

Women's Health Magazine recently did an article on the surprising effects of the Pill. First of all, there was apparently a common misconception that the Pill increases cancer risk. This is not true; the Pill actually dramatically reduces the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer by 80% in women who take it for at least 10 years. The Pill also does not make you gain weight. Instead, it affects the body composition by making it harder to build lean muscle and lowering levels of muscle-building hormones and increasing the levels of hormones that break down muscle tissue. The Pill also stabilizes hormone levels, which reduces mood swings for most, not increases them. In some people though, the Pill can be a depressant. Pill users are twice as likely to be depressed as nonusers. WebMD also has a thorough article on the Pill detailing any questions that people may have, possible side effects, and common misconceptions about the Pill.

With all the information about the Pill and its side effects available online, it really is embarrassing that I didn't know any of this. That is the same with all prescriptions though. In this day and age, so much information is available for free online. People should be much better informed and know exactly what they're taking.

Women's Health Magazine article:


Researcher: Natural contraceptives and birth control

While this week we read about methods of contraception, menstrual cycle and abortion, I found the topic of natural contraception very interesting. With political figures are trying to outlaw abortion it rises a concert about what ways a person could possibly go about abortion for a child that is unwanted, not planned or the person not being financially stable. I know it is important for women to use birth control in order to not become pregnant but they fail at time and become pregnant. I always have been interested in natural medicine and find it fascination to know that there are natural ways to prevent pregnancy while not using birth control. As in the article Women know something you don't the writer wrote about her grandparents not have more than one child in a decade. It is not common in many where birth control is not available. The links provided talk about natural herbs that have been used for years as natural contraceptives. It provides reasons why natural hers are just as efficient and at times better than birth control and why spacing children is better for women to replenish their health and nutrients before baring another child to prevent death and actually planning the birth of a wanted child.

Researcher: Birth Control and Menstruation

The topic of contraception and menstruation is an interesting topic for me. I know that main reason why women get their periods have to do with sexual maturity and the reason most women take birth control is to not get pregnant. I though that not having your period is basically a plus and that is what other people wanted, and I never thought that since the reason of women not wanting to get pregnant means that periods aren’t really necessary. There are also different methods of birth control so I was wondering if that has anything to do with the amount of periods a person gets will on birth control and if the affects the chance of pregnancy.
Based on all the information I found, it turns up that the periods are different with different methods of birth control. Then based on the information on how many people still get pregnant on all the methods, it seems that more frequent the periods are the more people tend to get pregnant. Again, I feel like there are other factors that attribute to this, like if the method was taken correctly, and there is nothing found that really had that. But I really wonder why the periods change if they all have the same purpose while on birth control? Or if there is a purpose then maybe it can be fixed?