Put Women In Charge

Before we go any further I must stress again that I am a male!

Last year I blogged about an American psychologist studying the incidence of violence throughout world history, who noted that our current period is the most peaceful (in terms of violence) that has ever existed and that this is in part due to the empowering of women.  He stated:

By all measures men are the more violent gender.

At the time I wondered out loud what would be the effect of making it compulsory that all head military positions in the world be occupied by women.  I would hazard a guess that the world would be even more peaceful.

Well related to this a scientist has been studying “morality”.  He has devised a test to measure morality and see how it changes over time (i.e. how our work experience affects our morals).  You can read the entire article here and even take the test to see how moral you are, however in summary he found that overall women are more moral than men.

“Women prefer to make their decisions based on how it impacts others – which tends to produce better decisions – while men have a more individual approach and are more self-interested.”

So again I wonder what would the world be like if we put women in the major decision making roles.  Now I know that this would not be perfect – I have had my share of scary bitch bosses in my time and I shudder to think what damage they would do if in control of a country – however overall I’m sure it would be better than our current practice. Just think of the crazy violent places in the world right now and who controls them – North Korea, Afghanistan, many countries in Africa etc. We need an overhaul.

I love science fiction, especially space opera, and I’ve just finished reading the Sundiver novel.  I’ve finished all the recent books of the great space opera writers and so have been going back to those novels written 30-40 years ago.  I’ve found a lot of them are crap as they weren’t able to accurately predict the way the world would go (e.g. they talk about storing information on tapes in the year 2145 or something like that), however the Sundiver novel was actually pretty good.  One really interesting part was how in the future the governments of Earth had devised a scientific and accurate test to measure one’s propensity to violence.  It was compulsory for every citizen (men and women) to undergo (regularly) this test, and anyone testing positive was prohibited from certain occupations / privileges.

I really believe that for the human race to steam ahead at great speed we need to solve this issue of violence.

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Cryogenic Chamber Therapy for Psoriasis?

I was listening to Joe Rogan’s podcast the other day (I’m usually a few days behind as I download them and listen when I have time), and one of his guests talked about top level football athletes in the US taking a radical new treatment called Cryogenic Therapy in order to aid recovery.  Listening to a description of the treatment on the podcast had me shaking my head in disbelief.

Apparently the process is one first strips off to wearing just a bathing suit, and gloves, earmuffs and surgical mask in order to protect from frostbite.  Then there are three steps:

It’s actually a complex consisting of three rooms: in one the temperature is a constant -10, in the second -60 and in the third -110 degrees Celsius.

A study has been performed on the treatment and you can read about it here.  Apparently the benefits are:

When parts of your body are sore, you apply an ice pack, because the sudden cooling creates a numbing sensation which overrides the pain. Entering the chamber can also work in the same way. If there is a nerve in your body which is causing a lot of pain, it can be desensitized by the effect of the cryogenic chamber. This is why many athletes and pro sportspersons use cryogenic chamber therapy in the process of recovering from injuries or recuperating after a hard season.

This can help in various conditions such as muscle and joint pain due to excess wear and tear and activity, fibromyalgia and psoriasis. The release of endorphins has a long lasting beneficial effect on the body and even inflammations have been seen to reduce quickly.

On the other hand, people suffering from age related problems such as rheumatism or chronic joint pains, can also benefit from spending time in a cryogenic chamber. They are reported to feel reinvigorated and more mobile after therapy in a cryo chamber.

Are there risks?  One only spends a maximum of 3 minutes in the coldest chamber, to minimize the risk of hypothermia and permanent nerve damage, however there is some speculation that the destruction of cells through freezing may raise the risk of cancer – although no studies have been done.

Here is a great video of a center in Germany, explaining how it works:

Icelab -110° Celsius

Does it work?  There are lots of athletes who believe so, and the study quoted above also demonstrated a definite benefit in recovery time.

Does it work for psoriasis?  I’d like to see more studies on this or try it out myself.  Unfortunately I don’t live near anywhere with a Cryogenic Chamber.  If you live in Texas or Northern California though, you are in luck.  Here is a good video of the one in Texas.  If you try it out, let us know if it works!

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Baloney Mass Index – BMI is WRONG 50% of the time

I’ve ranted before about the problems using BMI to try and determine if one is overweight or not.  The Body Mass Index (BMI) was created to review large (excuse the pun) populations, NOT individuals. As Wikipedia notes on explaining the creation of the BMI:

BMI was explicitly cited by Keys as being appropriate for population studies, and inappropriate for individual diagnosis. Nevertheless, due to its simplicity, it came to be widely used for individual diagnosis, despite its inappropriateness.

The article further clarifies:

BMI has become controversial because many people, including physicians, have come to rely on its apparent numerical authority for medical diagnosis, but that was never the BMI’s purpose…

I explained in an earlier blog that hip to waist measurement is actually a much better predictor of obesity than BMI.  Just Google “BMI vs. hip to waist ratio” and you’ll see all the studies.  One of the quotes from these studies is:

Cutlip agrees that BMI can be way off, especially when it comes to assessing a particular individual. The commonly used measure can give a skewed result not only for fit body builders who come out with a high number because of the extra weight associated with muscle, but also for the elderly, who tend to have scores that underestimate obesity because they have so much less muscle.

The study succinctly states:

New research shows that there’s a better, more informative way to figure out if you are overweight — the waist-to-hip ratio

Now these studies are from 6 years ago!  So why when I go to see my doctor do the nurses still take my height and weight to work out my BMI (and then consequently tell me that I am overweight)!  Why aren’t they taking my hip and waist measurements?

I’m not sure.  Maybe it is perhaps some conspiracy with insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and doctors.  Obesity is big business = big money.  When I applied for life insurance one of the companies wanted to double my premium because my BMI showed I was “overweight”.  Hang on, I said, my body fat percentage is at the level of an athlete – who are you calling fat?

Then this last week I see another study has been produced showing that using BMI as a measurement of “fatness” is flawed.  “But hang on” I hear you say, “if the BMI is right in about 90% of cases, isn’t it worth hanging on to it?”.  Absolutely – if it will pick up 90 out of 100 people correctly (sorry to the remaining 10 who will get ‘misdiagnosed’).  So how accurate is BMI?  Here is the kicker:

An analysis comparing the BMI to a blood test and body scan found that the BMI was wrong for half of women and 1 in 4 men.

Yep, you read that right – BMI is wrong in 50% of cases for women.

Doctors it is time to kick out BMI and bring in the tape measure.  Don’t make excuses because the studies don’t back up your practice.  Just do it.

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Tests for Arthritis

I read another great article this week by Dr. Nathan Wei on the usual tests ordered to confirm or monitor the disease of arthritis.  The tests he lists are:

ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate) which measures inflammation.  Naturally someone with active arthritis will have a lot of inflammation, which is what causes the pain.  Normal value is 0-15 and when my arthritis was really flaring before I was on a TNF inhibitor it was over 50.

CRP (C-reactive protein) also measures inflammation. Hmmmm – looking at my history I see it got up to 154 – not sure if that is high though – for a reference I have 0-10 but it seems pretty low!

Rheumatoid Factor is positive in about 70-75% of patients with rheumatoid arthritis.  I had the test twice in 2004 and once in 2007, and it was negative in all cases.

Anti-CCP is apparently more specific than Rheumatoid Factor and if positive early in the disease may indicate a more aggressive arthritis.  I’ve never had this test.

ANA is useful for testing for lupus.  Patients who test negative for ANA are 99% certain not to have lupus.  However apparently 30% of healthy people will test positive.  So I guess ANA is perhaps useful for showing if someone is more likely to have an autoimmune condition.  As Dr. Wei notes, if it is positive then it indicates to doctors to test further.  My ANA was negative twice in 2004, and positive in 2007.


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Do TNF Inhibitors Raise the Risk of Skin Cancer?

I received a tweet yesterday from Dr. Nathan Wei who reported on a recently completed study that showed that patients taking TNF inhibitors for RA had an increased risk of skin cancer.  You can find his video on it here.

Now the TNF inhibitors that RA patients take are exactly the same as what PsA patients take, so I’m pretty sure that once they get around to it that studies will show the same risk exists for PsA patients.  In fact, if you think about it there may be more of a risk for those who have psoriasis as well as PsA and are using UV light therapy to manage their psoriasis.  If you fit into this category then make sure you take good care of your skin, take some full body shots of yourself when naked so that if later you find any strange spots you can compare with those photos to see if they have changed size or shape (warning signs for skin cancer).

I also read an interesting article from the Life Extension organization regarding a recent study that showed a daily dose of aspirin reduces the risk of cancer.  Apparently they think that the aspirin helps to reduce chronic inflammation, which they believe is a precursor to cancer.  So maybe we should all start taking some low dose daily aspirin!

Be careful though, aspirin is a blood thinner which means one is more likely to bleed (and bruise) if taking it, and it takes longer for any bleeding to stop.  Check with you doctor before starting any medications (unless you are a reckless middle aged guy living in an Asian city where you can buy prescription meds OTC).

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Coffee and Psoriasis

No doubt about it, I love a good cup of Joe. I used to take it with milk however a few years ago I switched to black (I’ve never added sugar) and now it is my preferred beverage.  Mmmm a good nude coffee.

I’ve known for a long time that drinking coffee has many health benefits including possibly reducing the risk of diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, cirrhosis of the liver and even Alzheimer’s.  The reason is because it is full of antioxidants.   In fact if you read the linked article you’ll see that some doctors believe that coffee is the major source of antioxidants in many people’s diet.

Even though I love coffee and it has proven health benefits, there has been some suggestion that perhaps it isn’t good for psoriasis warriors as it can trigger inflammation, which in turn can cause psoriasis to flare.  However researchers have now found that there is no evidence of any link between coffee and psoriasis!  Great news.  You can read the summary of the study here.

In the last couple of days I’ve had some terrible stomach aches.  On two occasions the stomach aches have started after I had a spinach shake.  This is a special blended drink I sometimes have for breakfast, and consists of 3 cups of spinach, some peanut butter, 1/2 a banana, 2 scoops of protein powder, a cup of non fat milk, and some ice.  This is great recipe I got from Drew’s fit2fat2fit site and I’ve had it many times in the past.  I’ve never had any stomach problems with it though, and my stomach was incredibly sore the last few days.  It was very bad on Sunday and then grumbling through Monday and Tuesday, and then very bad again last night.  I’ve started a course of cipro to bash any bacterial infection I may have, however I’m also wondering if I’ve suddenly developed a lactose intolerance (is it possible to suddenly develop?), or perhaps if the protein powder I’ve used has passed it’s expiry date and if that could cause the stomach aches.

In both cases of bad stomach aches I’ve taken some analgesics as well as buscopan, and it hasn’t fully cured the pain.

As I’ve mentioned I’ve started the antibiotics, and I’ll also throw out the protein powder and get a new batch.  Hopefully that will fix the problem.

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Sleeping with Psoriatic Arthritis

Well just after I blogged last week about sleeping poorly due to psoriatic arthritis the National Psoriasis Foundation puts out an article about how psoriatic arthritis can lead to bad sleep!  In a nutshell a study found that not only do people with psoriatic arthritis have much poorer sleep compared to the general population, but people with just psoriasis also have worse sleep too.  My guess is it is due to the itching.  I know sometimes I’ve woken up and found a part of my scalp just about bleeding from where I have been scratching it while only half awake.  Naturally this is worse if my psoriasis is flaring.

They also reported it is a catch 22 situation, that is poor sleep can be a trigger to a psoriasis flare, which in turn leads to poor sleep.  Then at the end of the article I dug out a real gem:

“Symptoms to watch for include trouble getting to sleep, trouble staying asleep, daytime fatigue, restless leg syndrome, and snoring, gasping, or frequent waking which could indicate sleep apnea. All of these symptoms were reported in higher numbers by people who had psoriasis and even more so by those with psoriatic arthritis”

Wow – I had never before contemplated that there may be link between psoriatic arthritis and my restless leg syndrome, however this article suggested that there could be and that more study is needed.  If you guys need a volunteer with psoriatic arthritis and restless leg syndrome, then look no further!

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A Sore Back

I’ve been back from holiday for a while now, and one thing that I’ve noticed is that my back is much sorer here in Thailand than when I was on holiday.

Rather than being unusual, a painful lower back is the norm for psoriatic arthritis warriors, and it differentiates itself as unique by being particularly painful in the morning.  My sore back fits this pattern, with my pain being the worst in the morning, and rapidly gets better as I get up and move about.  So while I was on holiday I didn’t have too much back pain at all in the morning.  Certainly not enough pain that it would wake me up.  However once I returned home I’ve found that within about 3-4 days intense back pain woke me at 4am – two days in a row.  On the 3rd day (last night) I took a celebrex and that seemed to help – with the back pain waking me at 6am instead of 4am.  However I’m wondering why my back pain is suddenly more intense, and think that it may be due to my bed.  My bed here in Thailand is moderately firm, and so I’m going to try and soften it a lot to see if that makes a difference.

Apart from my back everything else is pretty good. My psoriasis is just about disappeared – so hopefully this will last as long as possible before my next remicade infusion.

I took a break from the gym while on holiday and haven’t been back to it yet.  To be honest my motivation for going is pretty low at the moment.  The last few times I went to the gym it was really full – much more than usual – so I couldn’t get on my usual machines / equipment.  I find it hard to go after work too – as my energy is low and I’m mindful of how exercising close to sleeping can make it hard to fall asleep.  The dilemma is not only do I hate getting up early, but I also sweat for about an hour after working out – and sweating profusely while wearing a suit is not an option at my work.  Yeah I know, excuses excuses.  I should just do it.

The good news is that I’m still eating healthy.  I plan to check my body fat levels this weekend.

Posted in bodybuilding, Psoriasis, Psoriatic Arthritis, Sleeping with arthritis, Weight Loss | Tagged | Leave a comment

Absent – but not Disappeared

Apologies for the absence of new posts for the last couple of weeks.  I’m on holiday with the family.  I’ll be back to the grind next week and regular blogs will resume.  In the meantime – enjoy a few interesting links:

New Guidelines for Treating Psoriasis.  An interesting summary of the different meds available for treating psoriasis, and when to use them.

From Tom Venuto – does Chewing Sugar Free Gum all day help burn calories to lose weight?  Although it is exercise (moving your jaw) apparently it is not significant enough to reduce calories.  However it apparently does help to keep away cravings for many people (which is the reason I use it).

And guys, you’ll be laughing at this one – and probably nodding your head quietly in agreement – research shows that women get happy when their partner is upset / angry!  So when you see your partner doing something which you know she knows will provoke you, don’t let it get you upset.  She could be pushing your buttons just to feel a bit better!  Ha – that’s a bit of controversial research right there.

Posted in Calorie Deficit, Psoriasis, Psoriasis Treatment, Tom Venuto, Weight Loss | Tagged | Leave a comment

Remicade done

Yesterday I had my regular dose of remicade.  Usually when I see the doctor before I take my remicade I’ve been suffering for a couple of weeks with diarrhea from an inflamed bowel – which is known to be related to an excess of TNF.  However this time round my bowels have been great – and I put that down to regularly taking probiotics.  So if any of my fellow psoriatic arthritis warriors are suffering from an angry bowel, I would recommend trying out probiotics.  I blogged about this last week and was hoping that it wasn’t a temporary benefit, and indeed it seems like probiotics have really helped.

Things continue to be really busy at work – which eats into my time to blog.  However I have come across a few interesting sites in the last couple of days which I want to mention.  Google seem to be experimenting with an amazing Head’s Up Display (HUD) for the common person – check it out here.  I definitely would buy a pair of those.  Wow – I love the way technology is blazing ahead.

I blogged a few months ago about a guy called Drew who is doing the journey of fit to fat to fit.  He spent 6 months getting out of shape and is on the return journey of 6 months to get back into shape.  You can follow his progress on his site.  So his 6 month journey to get back in shape finishes on May 7th – which is about 11 weeks away.  He currently is 28 pounds away from his initial weight.  Usually for a bodybuilder trying to lose fat (and not muscle), a goal of 2 pounds fat loss per week is pretty aggressive.  Drew will have to lose on average of 2.5 pounds per week to hit his goal.  I’m watching his progress with interest to see if he can do it.  I believe that he won’t actually be able to meet his goal of 193 pounds unless he goes crazy on the cardio and doesn’t care about losing muscle.  That being said, he is doing amazingly well, and you can easily see the progress – and even peek a couple of top abs coming through already!  I believe that it is much more difficult to lose weight than put it on – due to creation of new fat cells (which never die).

One thing I love about Drew’s site is that he puts up great recipes for healthy meals, high in protein and low in carbs.  I’m saving all of them, and a recent one he put up is a great alternative to pizza.  You can read about it here.

Posted in bodybuilding, Diarrhea, natural bodybuilding, Psoriasis, Psoriasis Treatment, Psoriatic Arthritis, Remicade, Remicade Administration, Six Pack Abs, TNF Blocker, Weight Loss | Leave a comment