Oral Bacteria Linked to Increased Risk of Pancreatic Cancer

Teeth-Pancreatic Cancer

NEW ORLEANS — Researchers have known for years that poor oral health, including bleeding gums and lots of missing teeth, is associated with a higher risk of getting pancreatic cancer. Now they are finding that certain bacteria linked to that periodontal disease may be behind the connection.

Research released Tuesday showed that two species of bacteria with impossibly long names, Porphyromonas gingivalis and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, were associated with a sharply increased risk of getting pancreatic cancer. The data showed that carrying both bacteria was linked to a 50 percent increased likelihood of contracting the cancer, said Jiyoung Ahn, associate director of population sciences at the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Medical Center.

The data doesn’t show a cause-and-effect relationship between the bacteria and pancreatic cancer, but it is a first step “in understanding a potential new risk factor,” Ahn said. The research was released at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting here in the form of an abstract.

Ahn acknowledged that scientists don’t yet know the answer to the big question: If those bacteria are culprits, how, exactly, do they contribute to an increased likelihood of pancreatic cancer? “We don’t yet know how oral bacteria affect the pancreas,” she said

Chris Mason, a geneticist at Weill Cornell Medicine, who wasn’t involved in the study, agreed that the next step is trying to figure out the mechanism for how oral bacteria might damage the pancreas. Still, he said, the new data, “has important implications for understanding the genesis of cancer and the interaction between human cells and other microbial or viral organisms in or around us.”

To do the study, Ahn and her colleagues analyzed oral-wash samples collected over several years as part of two large cancer prevention and screening studies conducted by the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society. Those studies enrolled healthy people and then followed them over years for a variety of outcomes, including the development of cancer. Using genomic technologies, Ahn and her fellow researchers generated profiles of each bacterial species present in the samples.

Ahn said about 1.5 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and that only 5 percent will live for five years or more. If scientists can figure out the role of oral bacteria, she said, it could point to new ways to screen for and possibly prevent the cancer.

courtesy of: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2016/04/20/

Whaaaaaat? Do Insects Have Consciousness and Ego?

Insect Bee Eyes, Smithsonian

Most of us think of insects as little automatons, living creatures driven by instinct and outside stimulus to slurp up nectar or buzz around our ears. But in a new study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences researchers suggest that insects have the capacity “for the most basic aspect of consciousness: subjective experience.”

The authors of the paper, philosopher Colin Klein and cognitive scientist Andrew Barron of Australia’s Macquarie University, aren’t arguing that insects have deep thoughts and desires, like “I want to be the fastest wasp in my nest” or “Yum, this pear nectar is good!” But they do suggest that invertebrates could be motivated by subjective experience, which is the very beginning of consciousness.

“When you and I are hungry, we don’t just move towards food; our hunger also has a particular feeling associated with it,” Klein tells Jennifer Viegas at Discovery News. “An organism has subjective experience if its mental states feel like something when they happen.”

“We want to know something more: whether insects can feel and sense the environment from a first-person perspective,” Klein and Barron write at The Conversation. “In philosophical jargon, this is sometimes called ‘phenomenal consciousness.’”

Insects also have a rudimentary sense of ego, though very different from Narcissus or Kanye.  Instead, it is the ability to act on certain environmental cues and ignore others. “They don’t pay attention to all sensory input equally,” Barron tells Viegas. “The insect selectively pays attention to what is most relevant to it at the moment, hence (it is) egocentric.”

The idea is not just philosophical musing. The duo points to research in an area called the midbrain to back up their idea. “In humans and other vertebrates (animals with a backbone and/or spinal column) there is good evidence that the midbrain is responsible for the basic capacity for subjective experience,” Klein tells Viegas. “The cortex determines much about what we are aware of, but the midbrain is what makes us capable of being aware in the first place. It does so, very crudely, by forming a single integrated picture of the world from a single point of view.”

Recent research mapping …  read more at —>  http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/

Financial Troubles? How to Handle Your Mortgage Payments

None of us can appreciate — nor anticipate — the future. Although we always believe it will never happen to us, once in a while, calamity strikes, and then we have to address these very hard and difficult questions.

You own a house, with a sizable mortgage. Suddenly, you (or your spouse) lost their job, and you cannot make the monthly mortgage payments.

There are a number of options you should immediately consider. However, the very first thing you should do is to talk with your lender. Don’t just discuss your issues with a low-level employee. Try to go as high up the corporate ladder as you possibly can. And don’t be afraid to be honest. Legitimate mortgage lenders will try to work with you, since they don’t want to evict you and have to own and carry your house until they sell it.

Here are some of the options which are available to you.

1. Temporary indulgenceHere, the lender, at your request, may grant you a short period of time — usually not more than three months — in order to cure any delinquency. However, this is merely temporary relief, and by the end of that short period of time, the borrower must be completely current.

2. Repayment planHere, the borrower is given a fixed period of time — usually not to exceed one year — in which to bring the mortgage current by immediately making and continuing to make payments in excess of the monthly mortgage payment. It is important to get this repayment plan reduced to a written document, signed by both the lender and the borrower.

3. Special forbearance relief agreement.  Here, the regular monthly mortgage payments are suspended or reduced for a period of up to eighteen months from the due date of the first unpaid monthly installment. At the conclusion of this relief period, the regular payments must be resumed; additionally, a comprehensive plan must be agreed upon for the repayment of the amount that has been suspended.

In this case, the lender will make a determination that the default is curable, and based on the current financial and appraisal data, the lender must be satisfied there is a likelihood that the borrower will be able to comply with the repayment plan. Clearly, the burden will be on you to document and justify the plan, so as to satisfy the lender’s requirements.

If you are in the military, the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Relief Act provides various forms of relief, but you should check with your military or civilian lawyer to determine your eligibility under that Act.

4. A short sale.  Here, the lender will authorize you to sell the property for what it is really worth, and the lender will get all the proceeds. Let us look at this example. The house can probably be sold at $395,000, but the mortgage is $425,000. The lender may allow you to sell the property for $395,000, giving a real estate broker a commission. The lender gets all the remaining sales proceeds; you get nothing from the sale. However, under this “short sale” approach, you will be relieved of your mortgage. In some cases — depending on your financial situation — the lender may want you to pay a portion of the mortgage shortfall; this depends on the lender and is clearly negotiable.

5. Deed in lieu of foreclosure.  This is another remedy that may be available to you. Under this arrangement, you deed your property to the lender (or to whomever the lender designates) and this is in lieu of (instead of) foreclosure proceedings. This arrangement is an acceptable and customary procedure when, for example, the borrower is deceased and the estate is willing and able to transfer the property, or the borrower has filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and the trustee has abandoned interest in the property.

6. Foreclosure.  Here, the lender will sell your property at auction (or in some states at the Courthouse), and you will lose your home and your credit rating (whatever is left of it. Legitimate lenders do not want to foreclose. and they will reluctantly start the process if all else has failed.

7. Bankruptcy.  Your final option, of course — which should be used only as a last resort — is for you to file bankruptcy. When someone files for bankruptcy, there are many protections that automatically apply from the day the bankruptcy petition is filed with the Bankruptcy Court. The most important protection under the bankruptcy law is known as “the automatic stay.” If you are in bankruptcy, no legal action can be taken against your house unless the lender requests the Court for permission to “lift the stay.”

You cannot ignore your financial problems hoping you will win the lottery or find some other immediate source of funds. The level of your cooperation is the most significant aspect that will determine how willing the lender is to similarly cooperate [with you].

courtesy of:  http://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/mortgageadvice1

Women Challenging Rules, Changing History


Kathrine Switzer becomes the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, despite attempts by the marathon organizer to stop her. [1967]

First woman, Boston Marathon


courtesy of:  http://news.distractify.com/people/

High-End Perfume And Whale Stuff

Sperm Whale, White, NatGeoA single pound of “whale vomit” can be worth tens of thousands of dollars

… Gary and Angela Williams were walking along Middleton Sands beach just outside Lancaster, England, when they caught a whiff of rotting fish. Instead of just moving along, the couple tracked down the smell, finding a large dirty-white lump on the sand. They knew what it was right away: a chunk of ambergris.

Also known as “whale vomit,” the putrid substance is produced by sperm whales, Physeter macrocephalus, and has been prized for centuries, still commanding big money from perfume makers. The couple wrapped the chunk of ambergris in a scarf and took it home. They are now consulting with experts about selling the 3.5-pound lump.

“It’s [got] a very distinctive smell, like a cross between squid and farmyard manure,” Gary told The Daily Mirror. “It feels like a rock hard rubber ball. Its texture is like wax, like a candle. When you touch it you get wax sticking to your fingers.”

They are not the first to win the ambergris lottery. In 2012, an eight-year-old boy found a 1.3 pound chunk of the stuff on a beach in Dorset, England, estimated at 60,000 dollars. In 2006, a couple in Australia discovered a 32-pound ambergris boulder, valued at 295,000 dollars. Beachcombers around the world collect much smaller clots of the stuff all the time, and sell it to ambergris brokers in New Zealand and Europe.

So what exactly is ambergris, and why is it so valuable? Scientist still aren’t sure about all the specifics, but they believe ambergris is formed in the intestinal tract of male sperm whales, writes Cynthia Graber at Scientific American. Because some of the whales’ favorite snacks are squid and cuttlefish, which have hard, sharp beaks, it’s thought that their intestines secrete a protective, fatty substance around the beaks to keep them from injuring their guts and organs.

Eventually, the whale evacuates the beak-filled glob, though since researchers haven’t yet seen it happen they still aren’t sure which end of the whale it comes out. Sperm whale expert Hal Whitehead of Dalhousie University tells Graber he suspects the substance is defecated. “Well, it smells more like the back end than the front end,” he says.

When it’s first released, ambergris is a mass of black greasy chunks that float on the ocean surface. Over time it congeals and becomes gray and waxy. The longer ambergris floats at sea exposed to the sun and salt water, the more it develops “sweet, earthy aromas, likened to tobacco, pine, or mulch,” according to Graber.  Eventually the lumps wash ashore.

That scent is probably what led people in the Middle East to use it to spice their food and as medicine centuries ago. It also led ancient Egyptians to burn it as incense and the Chinese to call it “dragon spittle fragrance.” … read more —>  http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/