Tag Archives: Research

Understanding the effect of sex on your brain chemistry

This article was sent to me by my friend Andrew. It’s by Marcia Segelstein.

Marcia is trying to make the same point about sex that Miriam Grossmann made in her book “Unprotected”. The point is that although bureaucrats and educrats love to tell people about the riskiness of behaviors like smoking and obesity, they don’t tell people the truth about the dangers of casual sex, because they don’t want to antagonize special interest groups like feminists and gay activists.

In the article, Marcia talks about the mental effects of casual sex. She talks about dopamine first, but the one I want to tell you about is called oxytocin. It is very important that you parents of young ladies understand this and present this evidence to your daughters. (The male version of this phenomenon is also explained in the article, it’s called vasopressin).

Excerpt:

Oxytocin is another important brain chemical we are now learning more about.  Oxytocin helps females, in particular, bond with other people.  When a new mother breastfeeds her infant, for example, oxytocin floods her brain.  The effect is powerful.  She feels a strong desire to be with her baby, and is willing to suffer the sleepless nights and inconveniences that come with having a baby.

Oxytocin also helps females bond with men.  When a woman and man touch each other in a loving way, oxytocin is released in her brain.  It makes her want more of that loving touch, and she begins to feel a bond with her partner.  Sexual intercourse leads to the release of even more oxytocin, a desire to repeat the contact, and even stronger bonding.  But, like dopamine, oxytocin is values-neutral.  It’s a chemical reaction, or, as the authors write: “[I]t is an involuntary process that cannot distinguish between a one-night stand and a lifelong soul mate.  Oxytocin can cause a woman to bond to a man even during what was expected to be a short-term sexual relationship.”  So when that short-term relationship ends, the emotional fallout can be devastating, thanks to oxytocin.

Another significant finding about oxytocin is that it produces feelings of trust.  That can be good or bad, depending on the situation.  “While the hormonal effect of oxytocin is ideal for marriage, it can cause problems for the unmarried woman or girl who is approached by a man desiring sex….[T]he warning is that a woman’s brain can cause her to be blindsided by a bad relationship that she thought was good because of the physical contact and the oxytocin response it generates.”

This is why Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse says that the only smart sex is married sex. Otherwise you are just coarsening your own self. Neil Simpson calls this the duct tape theory of sex. He explains why sex is like duct tape here. Don’t order your children around – give them the data so they understand the why of chastity.

Chinese scientists announce stem-cell research breakthrough

Previously, I blogged about how scientists had discovered a way to prevent ethical adult stem cells from being infected with cancerous mutations. I’ve also written about some of the proven cures that have been developed with adult stem cells and compared it with the number of cures developed by unethical embryonic stem-cell research, i.e. – NONE.

But now we learn about a new source of functional stem cells: PIGS! That’s right, PIGS!

Check out this story from the BBC.

Excerpt:

Chinese scientists have given cells from adult pigs the ability to turn into any tissue in the body, just like embryonic stem cells.

They hope the breakthrough could aid research into human disease, and the breeding of animals for organ transplants for humans.

The study appears online in the Journal of Molecular Cell Biology.

…Tests showed that the reprogrammed cells were capable of becoming any of the cell types that make up the three layers in a developing embryo.

Now you say, “Wintery! What good are pig stem cells for human beings?” So I’ll tell you.

Dr Xiao said pigs were a potentially ideal source of organs for transplant, as their organs were similar in function and size to those found in humans.

He said reprogrammed stem cells could potentially be used to make a pig organ compatible to the human immune system, minimising the risk of rejection.

The cells could also be used to mimic human disease in pigs, allowing scientists to test new therapies without requiring human volunteers.

There’s more in the story, it’s worth a look!

BONUS (depressing, though)

My elusive friend Richard e-mails me this article from the CBC, which talks about Quebec’s plan to pay for screenings for pregnant women to see if their child has Down’s syndrome. The article states that “statistics in other countries show that 90 per cent of women end their pregnancy after a positive test.” Quebec is the most secular and left-wing province in Canada.

What is it about the weak that causes leftists to want to kill them? Is it because they desire happiness for themselves above all and do not believe that humans have certain inalienable rights guaranteed by God? Is it because they believe that there is no value in suffering a little in order to take care of others has no value in a mindless, accidental universe where the only purpose is to have happy feelings until you die?

The relationship between science, faith and academic freedom

I blogged recently about atheist philosophers Thomas Nagel and Bradley Monton, informed atheists, who both support the idea that intelligent design could potentially be researched using ordinary scientific methods. I thought it was interesting especially in the case of Nagel, who has this famous quote about his reasons for adopting atheism:

“In speaking of the fear of religion, I don’t mean to refer to the entirely reasonable hostility toward certain established religions and religious institutions, in virtue of their objectionable moral doctrines, social policies, and political influence. Nor am I referring to the association of many religious beliefs with superstition and the acceptance of evident empirical falsehoods. I am talking about something much deeper–namely, the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.
(”The Last Word” by Thomas Nagel, Oxford University Press: 1997)

The thing is, Thomas Nagel has written a paper supporting ID as science, and now I’ve learned that he is rejecting Darwinism as a full explanation of human origins. (H/T Denyse O’Leary’s related post at the Post-Darwinist). Nagel contrasts the idea that natural selection is responsible for our mental capacity, or whether some other explanation is needed.

Nagel writes:

I see no reason to believe that the truth lies in the first alternative. The only reason so many people believe it is that advanced intellectual capacities clearly exist, and this is the only available candidate for a Darwinian explanation of their existence. So it all rests on the assumption that every noteworthy characteristic of human beings, or of any other organism, must have a Darwinian explanation. But what is the reason to believe this? Even if natural selection explains all adaptive evolution, there may be developments in the history of species that are not specifically adaptive and can’t be explained in terms of natural selection. Why not take the development of the human intellect as a probable counterexample to the law that natural selection explains everything, instead of forcing it under the law with improbable speculations unsupported by evidence? We have here one of those powerful reductionist dogmas which seem to be part of the intellectual atmosphere we breath.

It’s interesting that Nagel is breaking from the pack, because my post about A. N. Wilson’s return to faith highlighted the peer-pressure that atheists feel with regards to the need to project intelligence to their peers. It’s almost as they feel the need prove themselves as better than other people, perhaps to make up for some past rejection that gave them a deep sense of being unworthy.

Wilson said:

If I bumped into Richard Dawkins (an old colleague from Oxford days) or had dinner in Washington with Christopher Hitchens (as I did either on that trip to interview Billy Graham or another), I did not have to feel out on a limb. Hitchens was excited to greet a new convert to his non-creed and put me through a catechism before uncorking some stupendous claret. “So – absolutely no God?” “Nope,” I was able to say with Moonie-zeal. “No future life, nothing ‘out there’?” “No,” I obediently replied. At last! I could join in the creed shared by so many (most?) of my intelligent contemporaries in the western world – that men and women are purely material beings (whatever that is supposed to mean), that “this is all there is” (ditto), that God, Jesus and religion are a load of baloney: and worse than that, the cause of much (no, come on, let yourself go), most (why stint yourself – go for it, man), all the trouble in the world, from Jerusalem to Belfast, from Washington to Islamabad.

Anyway, Denyse O’Leary also talks about some research done by Jeffrey Schwartz on her blog the Mindful Hack. I saw Schwartz present this research before in a live debate with Michael Shermer, another atheist I like somewhat. (I own, and have watched dozens of debates and hundreds of academic lectures – and I sponsor them, too! I love civil, fact-based disagreements!)

Denyse cites from a forthcoming paper of hers, as follows:

UCLA psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz, a practitioner of Buddhist mindfulness, saw OCD as a good candidate for a non- pharmaceutical—essentially non-materialist—approach to treatment….

Schwartz used neuroscience techniques to identify the cause of the disorder. Specifically, the cause is most likely a defect in the neural circuitry connecting the orbitofrontal cortex, cingulate gyrus, and basal ganglia, from which panic and compulsion are generated. When this “worry circuit” is working properly, we worry about genuine risks and feel the urge to reduce them. But, Schwartz found, when that modulation is faulty, as it is when OCD acts up, the error detector can be overactivated. It becomes locked into a pattern of repetitive firing. The firing triggers an overpowering feeling that something is wrong, accompanied by compulsive attempts to somehow make it right.

He then developed a four-step program (Relabel, Reattribute, Reassign, and Revalue) to help patients identify and reassign OCD thoughts, until they felt that they were diminishing in severity. Schwartz was not simply getting patients to change their opinions, but to change their brains. Subsequent brain imaging showed that the change in focus of attention substituted a useful neural circuit for a useless one. For example, it substituted “go work in the garden” for “wash hands seven more times.” By the time the neuronal traffic from the many different activities associated with gardening began to exceed the traffic from washing the hands, the patient could control the disorder without drugs. The mind was changing the brain.

Schwartz called this “mental effort” in the debate, and he used the treatment successfully on people like Leonardo DiCaprio.

The issue of mind as a non-material cause is an area of specialty for Denyse. She recently wrote a book on it for Harper-Collins called “The Spiritual Brain”. I bought 7 copies of that book and gave them to 6 of my friends for their Christmas presents. (One was for me!) Check it out. I hate (but use) philosophical arguments for substance dualism. Her book provides lots of hard scientific evidence that I prefer to use instead.

Atheism, science and free speech

As Denyse O’Leary notes in her post on Colliding Universes, Christian researchers in the sciences have to jump through hoops to keep their jobs and get tenure, in an establishment dominated by activist atheists. She links to this story in Science, regarding a Christian professor who is brilliant, but who has to watch his step in secular-leftist-dominated academia.

Szilágyi sees his religious faith and his research efforts as two complementary aspects of his life. Within the scientific environment, “I have some options where I can express my faith,” Szilágyi says. He directly referred to God both in the acknowledgements of his master’s and doctoral dissertations and while receiving his awards. He runs a Bible-study group for young adults, and together with a friend he founded a Christian scientific group.

But although Szilágyi’s views often lie far outside the scientific mainstream, he expresses those views only off-campus and in his personal time. For him, “the debate over evolution, design, creation, supernatural intelligence, etc., is not a scientific question in the first place but the collision of worldviews, the confrontation of materialism and idealism,” he says. He takes the Bible literally, but when he lectures on the subject–outside of work–he presents what he calls “the options” and indicates which one “to me … seems to be more probable.” But he insists that it is up to “everybody to make his or her own decision.”

“As a Christian who works in the field of science, I find it quite important to deal with the relation of Christianity and science,” Szilágyi says. But “I know that it is a minefield in today’s scientific life and can be quite dangerous for one’s scientific career. … Therefore, I do these activities absolutely separately from my university work. … I am very cautious and careful that whenever I am talking [about these issues] I do not represent my university.

“My belief is very important for my career because this is the first thing that gives me my motivations so that I could work hard and I could achieve the best I can,” Szilágyi says.

Denyse, who sees the battlefield better than anyone I know, comments:

It is sad when talented people must grovel and cringe just to keep their jobs. The thing is, in the end, that never works.

“Theistic evolution” is just a way of adjusting to a world run by atheists.

Practical questions like “Does the world show evidence of design” are scientific if the answer appears to be no, but unscientific if it appears to be yes.

Denyse also wrote about this comment on the Post-Darwinist, which emerged during the recent Texas School Board hearings.

“If our students do not feel the freedom to simply raise their hand and ask a question in science class, then we are no longer living in the United States of America.”

Common sense, combined with the pressure of at least 14,000 constituent communications in favor of allowing students to discuss all sides of science theories, finally prevailed.

You may also remember the case of Guillermo Gonzalez, who, despite outperforming virtually everyone in his department, was denied tenure thanks to a crusade by an activist atheist professor of religious studies, Hector Avalos. Persecution of outspoken Christians by secularists goes on all the time in academia. If you come out as a Christian, the secularists will be offended, and then you have to suffer the consequences.

And don’t forget, as public Christianity declines in the face of persecution by secularists, so has the right to free speech. The Democrats have recently tabled bills to enact hate crime laws and to imprison bloggers who are critical of the government.

Barack Obama wants to control whether you can pay for your own medical care

Yes, privatized health care is such a bad, bad thing. Health care is so much better in Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam.

Really? Here is a post that begs to differ by Betsy McCaughey on National Review. (H/T Commenter ECM)

Here is a dose of reality, for those who voted for the Democrats:

President Obama pledges to provide health insurance for 46 million uninsured people and, at the same time, restrain the nation’s total health spending. Covering the uninsured is a worthy goal, but it will not save money: Once they are covered, they will use 70 percent more health services overall than before, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

So where will the promised savings come from? The truth is that Americans who already have insurance will get less care.

Well, I know this will come as shock to Democrats who based their vote for Obama on Michael Moore movies depicting health care in Cuba, but government-run heath care means skyrocketing costs and waiting lists for treatment.

Health spending is higher in the U.S. than in Europe not because the American medical profession is less efficient, but because Americans have higher incomes: “The more people have, the more of it they tend to spend on health care,” wrote David Blumenthal, a Harvard Medical School professor. Blumenthal was recently chosen by Pres. Barack Obama to be national coordinator of health information technology, a key position. In his academic writings, Blumenthal has long advocated government limits on how much health care you can get.

Patients will be dissatisfied, he admits. “Government controls on health care spending are associated with longer waits for elective procedures and reduced availability of new and expensive treatments and devices,” he conceded in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) in 2001.

You need to understand that people who voted Democrat did so from a position of total ignorance about how the world actually works. They think money grows on trees. They think that “greed” is the only reason why the world isn’t a utopia of equalized of outcomes, regardless of individual choices. Unfortunately, government-run health care is a done deal in the USA.

Legislators slipped the framework for top-down government controls into the stimulus package passed in February. One provision called for computer technology that will “guide” doctors’ decisions about what care is “cost-effective.” Beginning in 2014, Medicare and other federal programs will impose financial penalties on doctors and hospitals who are not “meaningful users” of this system. Private insurers historically have followed Medicare’s lead.

That’s right. Your doctor will be coerced by the federal government to prevent you from spending your own money on your own health care. Instead, the government has decided that your money would be better spent on more valuable things like sex changes, because those are for a Democract special interest group, and you’re not in that group. You’re just a taxpayer, not a victim. No health care for you!

How much leeway will your doctor have to order tests and treatments? It’s hard to say, because the government can make the standard of compliance “more stringent” over time. Blumenthal says his job is not about “just putting machinery in offices.” In fact, it’s about control. In a New England Journal of Medicine article published April 9, just after his appointment to the Obama administration was announced, Blumenthal explained that if electronic technology is to save money, doctors will have to take advantage of “clinical decision support,” a term of art for computers telling doctors what to do. He predicted that “many physicians and hospitals may rebel, petitioning Congress to change the law or just resigning themselves to . . . penalties.”

Yes, I know this is hard for your People-magazine-reading Democrats to believe, but socialism leads to a loss of liberty. Yes! Isn’t that crazy? If you voted for Obama, you voted for fascism! You voted for the values of the state, as expressed by the ruling elite, to be imposed on the individuals who actually provide the state with capital for their schemes. Surprise!

Government controls on health expenditures will reduce the availability of medical technology, such as MRIs, and cause waits for treatment. Blumenthal says it’s “debatable” whether the timely care Americans currently receive is worth the added price. Ask a cancer patient about waiting, and you’ll get a different answer. Delays lower your chance of survival. For example, women in the U.S are more likely to have regular mammograms than are women elsewhere, according to data from the Commonwealth Fund. Their breast cancer is detected sooner. They are also treated faster and have higher survival rates than women in any other developed country, according to the CONCORD study published in 2008 in Lancet Oncology. These statistics include all American women, not just those with insurance.

Treating cancer is costly. Nancy-Ann De Parle, newly appointed director of the White House Office of Health Reform, said on March 23, “we have to get to a system of keeping people well, rather than treating the sickness.” That would make sense if all disease were preventable. But many cancers and other diseases are linked to genetics or unknown causes. De Parle’s pronouncement echoes the chilling explanation offered by Sir Michael Rawlins, head of Britain’s National Institute of Clinical Effectiveness (NICE), for his nation’s low cancer survival rates. The British National Health Service, he is quoted as saying in the NEJM last November, has to be fair to all patients, “not just the patients with macular degeneration or breast cancer or renal cancer. If we spend a lot of money on a few patients, we have less money to spend on everyone else.”

Isn’t that great? You pay into the system based on the amount of money you earn, and then left-wing activists with degrees in Marxist Studies decide when, or even IF, you will be treated. That is what we have in this country now. And we got it by our incredible ignorance about the way the world works.

And do you know what else gets reduced or eliminated in government-run health care?

Also, built into the U.S. health-care tab is research for cures. Five hospitals in the U.S. do more clinical trials than any entire country in Europe, including the U.K., the McKinsey Global Institute reported in December. If someone in your family has an incurable disease, you start each day hoping for a breakthrough. Yet in his writings, Blumenthal identifies innovation as a culprit driving up health spending.

The health provisions in the stimulus legislation were rushed through without discussion. “Speed is essential,” Blumenthal wrote in the NEJM last November. “Bill Clinton waited for nine months to introduce his Health Security Act in 1993, which allowed his opposition to mobilize and defeat him.” This time, he added, a “savvy health advisor” will warn the president, “Hurry up, we’re almost out of time for health reform.”

Now ask yourself. What is the point of producing wealth in a country where your money is confiscated to pay for other people who live risky lives and never pay anything into the system. Is work worth it? Is prudent living worth it? Only the suckers produce wealth and live clean, in Obama’s socialist utopia. Ignorance of economics is going to mean death for many Americans. And Democrats don’t care. They want everyone to be “equal”, regardless of individual choices.

UPDATE: John Lott posts that Obama thinks that US taxpayers should give up 63 billion dollars to pay for health care abroad.

Excerpt from MSNBC:

The Obama administration wants the United States to spend $63 billion over the next six years to fight global diseases and provide more aid for prenatal and postnatal care, children’s health and fighting tropical diseases.

“We cannot fix every problem,” Obama said in a written statement Tuesday. “But we have a responsibility to protect the health of our people, while saving lives, reducing suffering, and supporting the health and dignity of people everywhere. America can make a significant difference in meeting these challenges and that is why my administration is committed to act.”

That is more than 10% the total cost of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars in one fell swoop! At least we got good strategic value for the money spent on the wars! What can we expect from this? Obama’s enormous ego to become even more inflated while he spends other people’s money?

Round-up of stories on adult stem cell research and abortion

As you know, Obama is making scientific progress and patient care take a back-seat to feminist ideology. He appeases his pro-abortion special interest groups by wasting money on unproven embryonic stem cell research, while neglecting proven therapies based on adult stem cell research. Who cares about patient liberty and curing diseases?

Let’s take a look and see what adult stem cells can do.

UPI reports that adult stem cells can revert to an embryonic state.

U.S. scientists say they have, for the first time, returned adult mouse cells to their embryonic pluripotent state, meaning they can become any cell type.

The University of California-San Francisco researchers said they used tiny molecules called microRNAs to reprogram the cells.

The achievement suggests scientists will soon be able to replace retroviruses and even genes currently used in laboratory experiments to induce pluripotency in adult cells. The researchers said that would make potential stem cell-based therapies safer by eliminating risks posed to humans by these DNA-based methods, including alteration of the genome and risk of cancer.

Adult stem cells provide solutions for stroke victims.

The good news continues to flow about the first stroke patient successfully treated in Houston using the patient’s own adult stem cells. The patient, Roland Henrich, was originally admitted to the emergency room at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center on March 25, 2009 with signs of stroke–he could not speak and had significant weakness on his right side. Because it was beyond the few hours window for use of the clot-dissolving drug TPA, the adult stem cell trial was his only option. The next day some of his bone marrow was removed, the adult stem cells separated, and returned intravenously to the patient. In less than a week doctors noted that he was recovering remarkably well and had not shown any signs of paralysis. Within 11 days of the treatment Mr. Henrich was walking, climbing stairs unassisted, and said his first word after the stroke, captured on a local news video and surprising his own doctor and leader of the clinical trial, Dr. Sean Savitz. His wife says now he has spoken several single words and phrases and has fed the cows by himself.

Adult stem cells provide solutions for infertile women.

Chinese scientists have published a study in Nature Cell Biology that suggests even older females retain adult stem cells that can stimulate fertility, including the production of more eggs. The evidence is in contrast to the usual dogma that women have a finite number of immature eggs, some of which mature and are ovulated, and that the number of eggs becomes depleted with age. Tilly et al. recently reviewed the evidence for and against production of new eggs after birth. Tilly’s group was one of those recently to challenge the dogma with evidence that new egg production could occur in mammals.

What the Chinese group showed is that ovaries contain stem cells that can produce more eggs, similar to the stem cells in testes that produce sperm.

Adult stem cells provide solutions for healing bones.

Patients confined to wheelchairs have been able to walk or live independently again because their broken bones finally healed, thanks to a drug that stimulates their adult stem cells. Preliminary results presented at the Orthopaedic Research Society meeting found 93% of those with an unhealed bone fracture had significant healing and pain control after treatment for only 8 to 12 weeks. Half of the 145 patients studied had non-healing fractures for 6 months or longer. The drug, teriparatide (Forteo), was approved by the FDA in 2002 for treatment of osteoporosis. A team led by Dr. J. Edward Puzas at the University of Rochester Medical Center discovered that this drug can also boost the body’s bone adult stem cell production to the point that adults’ bones appear to heal at a rate typically seen for young kids.

Adult stem cells provide solutions for diabetes.

Another success for adult stem cells, again treating Type I (juvenile) diabetes patients. As reported in a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 20 of 23 patients became insulin-independent after treatment with their own bone marrow adult stem cells. This report is a follow-up to the previous report by Voltarelli & Burt in 2007, and includes new patients as well as a longer period to follow the patients. Some of the patients have gone for four years insulin-free. The authors note in the paper that this adult stem cell treatment “remains the only treatment capable of reversing type 1 diabetes in humans.”

Adult stem cells provide solutions for treating ligaments and tendons

Recent news from London that adult stem cells will be used to repair damaged tendons and ligaments in patients. This isn’t really a new technique, but the interesting thing is that the technique is now used routinely in horses and other animals. Finally, the realization has hit that this adult stem cell treatment might work for people, too. More than 1,500 race horses have been treated using the same process, and follow-up data suggest a 50 percent reduction in re-injury over a three year period, compared with conventional treatment.

We don’t need to kill innocent unborn humans in order to make medical progress. We don’t need an excess of 32 million males due to anti-female sex-selection abortions. And we don’t need to subsidize Planned Parenthood with 350 million dollars when they already have net assets of 1 billion dollars.

And lastly, some good news. In contrast to the Democrats anti-life stance, Republicans in the Oklahoma legislature voted to ban embryonic stem cell research. Now that’s progress.