Friday, April 11, 2008

Birth Control Pill Linked to Hardening of the Arteries

This seems fairly sound. It's epidemiological but it is difficult to see what confounds there could be

Researchers at the University of Ghent, conducting a long-term study on 1,300 healthy women aged 35 to 55 living in a small town in Belgium, have observed that those women who take oral contraceptives may have more plaque (a hard, fatty deposit) buildup in their arteries. Atherosclerotic plaque is comprised of cholesterol, bacteria and calcium which adheres to the inner lining of arteries.

Approximately 81 percent of participants had taken birth control pills for at least a year at some point in their lives, and 27 percent were currently taking the contraceptives. The researchers conducted ultrasound examinations of the participants' leg and neck arteries to measure levels of plaque buildup. Every 10 years of oral contraceptive use was correlated with a 20 to 30 percent increase in plaque buildup.

According to lead researcher Ernst Rietzschel, this amount of plaque buildup is cause for concern because of increased risk of heart disease and stroke, and the study indicates a need to conduct new investigation into the safety of oral contraceptives. "It's incredible that a drug which has been taken by 80 percent of women ... is almost bereft of any long-term outcome safety data," Rietzschel said in a NaturalNews report.

Birth control pills are taken by about 100 million women worldwide. Previous studies have shown that synthetic hormones used for birth control greatly increased the risk of blood clotting. This new Belgian study adds the increased risk of atherosclerotic plaque formation, in relatively young women, to the risk of clot formation. Clots typically form in the legs and can cause serious injury and death if they travel to the heart, lungs or brain.

Two years ago, pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson, recalled the Ortho Evra birth-control patch after lawsuits revealed definitive proof that women on the patch were dying of strokes and blot clots three times more frequently than the general population. The lawsuits charged that Johnson and Johnson failed to properly investigate the product's safety and stated that the company deceived the public about the severity of potential side effects, which include strokes and severe blood clots. FDA records show that seventeen patch users between the ages of 17 and 30 suffered fatal heart attacks, blood clots and possible strokes between August 2002 and November 2005.

Women have previously been considered much less likely than men to have strokes or heart attacks due to cholesterol build-up in their arteries. However, women on the pill approach the level of risk of men for plaque formation, according to this study. The link between chemical birth control and breast cancer, though widely studied, documented and published in medical journals, is still ignored by the major media and as a result women taking oral contraceptives seem to be largely unaware of the risks.

Dr. Andrew Penman, CEO of the Cancer Council of NSW (New South Wales, Australia), said that although he still believed the risk of breast cancer in women younger than 50 was minimal, most women were unaware of the possible risks of taking the pill. "The problem with the pill is that it is such a money spinner that the money gets in the way of the risks," Dr. Penman said.


Chocolate ban

A prize example of pissing into the wind

CHOCOLATE made using child slavery will be banished from Parliament under a plan by South Australian MP Christopher Pyne. Mr Pyne was inspired by World Vision chief Tim Costello and U.S. ethics professor Dr David Batstone, who are attempting to abolish slave labour by removing the market for goods.

In Adelaide this week Mr Costello said Australians were helping to finance international child slavery. He highlighted the plight of children enslaved to provide coffee, chocolate and clothing to the West. "Chocolate is cheap for us because of trafficked children and child labour," he said. "Seventy per cent of the world's cocoa comes out of the Ivory Coast and Ghana (where it is harvested by child slaves [child labour is indeed common in poor countries but "slaves"?])." Mr Costello said many other products, including iron, coffee and clothing come from a supply chain that included children. "The great need is actually for the consumer to really demand transparency in the supply chain," he said.

After meeting Mr Costello and Dr Batstone, Mr Pyne decided to write to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd with his plan to remove all non fair-trade chocolate from vending machines in all Parliamentary offices. "I think this is a very worthy cause," he said. "I think most constituents in my electorate would be horrified to know that there are 27 million slaves in the world today, many are children, and they're being used."



Anonymous said...

"Birth Control Pill Linked to Hardening of the Arteries"

The Pill works by convincing the female body that it is already pregnant. I had a girlfriend or two go on the pill after we met. One had to stop, since even the low dose form made her blood pressure skyrocket. Their breasts got progressively bigger though, month by month, going on years!

A metabolism-altering drug which puts the body into pregnancy mode in the ABSENCE of a fetus to create, then results in years of no baby to breast feed causes metabolic problems?!

But a bit of hair splitting is in order, namely that the headline you reproduce is a bit of a misnomer.

Plaques are indeed due to a screwed-up fatty acid metabolism (minus anti-oxidant protection if we don't eat our veggies or drink coffee, tea or red wine). But "hardening" of arteries isn't the same thing. That has more to do with how fat cells (or the Pill) create an abundance of estrogen, which is exactly opposite to how testosterone builds fast twitch muscles in our limbs etc., causes smooth (slower but more efficient) muscle to increase, such as surrounds the digestive system and blood vessels, and it is *this* that hardens arteries by literally bulking up their smooth muscle content. Plaques, on the other hand, tend not to increase resting blood pressure except during an actual stroke or heart attack (often during sex or snow shoveling). Plaques are polymerized bits of junk, mostly cross-linked molecules of cholesterol, which collect in bends in veins, just like soot and sticks collect in the bends of rivers. Further oxidative linking (free radical alert!) connects the glob of gunk to the vein wall, which then, during exercise can tear the blood vessel lining a bit, ironically causing it to leak blood, so it forms a clot around the whole area (!). Now you have a big glob of junk that is held down by a rather thin thread of the initial oxidative linking to the vein wall. During further exercise or stress-caused surges in adrenaline, blood flows much more forcefully, so the plaque/clot breaks off can blocks either the small veins of the heart (making part of it die), or the small veins of the brain (making part of the brain die = stroke).

Weekly alcohol intake literally thins the blood and literally acts as a solvent to help dissolve plaques when they are still small enough to dissolve.

Aspirin stops inflammation. That's what blood clotting is a form of, more or less. It also causes the stomach to bleed a bit, removing excess iron storage that most men (women lesser so due to monthly periods) suffer from, and iron is a major oxidizing agent that promotes plaque formation.

So it makes intuitive sense that arterial plaques *and* artery hardening may be increased by the Pill, but the article only mentions plaque build up, not artery hardening.

The breast cancer link to the Pill is also pretty straight forward. Thinking she's pregnant, a woman's body sends growth factors to her breasts, so any existing micro-tumors that are usually caught in time by the immune system get a boost to the point where they are big enough to fool the immune system and send out signals for more blood supply.

My biochemistry memory is fading a bit, so some of my statements are not exactly of reference quality.

Anonymous said...

"to remove all non fair-trade chocolate from vending machines"

Hi, the Devil here. Nice blog, but you can't stop me again, like you did last century, for I have changed tactics. This is some of my most flippant and hilarious work of late, since believe it or not I was feeling a little guilty for getting so bored, last century, causing all those wars. I've switches to smaller, more chronic means, this century, having had the bad luck of whispering into the ear of Oppenheimer how the sun worked, hoping it would make truly big wars, but that sort of backfired on me.

This chocolate thing isn't really evil, since only a few little sick kids in crappy little countries will lose their only source of income, and have to turn to crime, which is a sin, and their souls will be mine. That's pretty inefficient though, so that's not my motive. It actually a test to keep my own faith in how stupid humanity on Earth is.

Did you know that if you don't go to Hell, you don't go anywhere anymore? Look up in the sky. See any Heaven in the vacuum of space where the Vatican claimed angels (dark matter actually, ha ha) tread. Dark matter is literally pure evil. I had to make it since God gave up on Humans two thousand years ago and decided to stop holding galaxies together since his original law of gravitation had a typo. Now that's my job. I swear to God he left this loophole in place on purpose, to end the whole mess when he left, so we would find ourselves in Entropy instead of on the Earth that contains Hell (which is underground, protected by a molten rock radioactive lake that gives us plenty of heat but keeps pesky humans out). I'll let you in on another secret. The core isn't iron. It's carbon. A perfect 128-dimensional diamond that controls dark matter throughout the Universe. Aristotle had it right. The Earth really is the center of the Universe. Ever wonder why, in a century of effort, you've never heard a peep from alien planets? They are all lifeless. Wonder why the Universe seems so big? It's NOT. It's just a big curvature of space in which each galaxy you see is repeated one million times in your telescopes at different stages of their life, as the light curves past our planet, then curves back again, each time appearing like a different galaxy. And these are the things I can TELL you! Ha ha ha ha ha!!!

I once told somewhat what I will repeat for you:

There is no law of progress. Your future is in your own hands, to make or mar. It will be an uphill fight to the end, and would we have it otherwise? Let no one suppose that evolution will ever exempt you from struggles. You forget that I have been evolving too.


P.S. Don't ever ask me about the Free Will Paradox that neither a fully deterministic nor a chaotic universe allows for it, but the mind of man cannot fathom the real answer. If I told you, you wouldn't understand. If I showed you, you would go insane. Watching you fight a losing battle with human stupidity is worth too much to me to have that happen.