Monday, April 28, 2008

IVF: The speculation continues

There is no evidence of anything much below -- just some old scares long ago debunked plus old speculation about IVF bypassing processes that remove defective genes. The rate of babies being born with defects after IVF is however very low so there is no reasonable action that could be taken even if there is some truth in the speculations. The major cause of the high rate of infertility treatments is undoubtedly the tendency of women these days to defer childbearing to just about the last possible minute. The older the woman gets, the harder it is to conceive

AUSTRALIA is facing an infertility crisis as increasing numbers of infertile and "sub-fertile" couples are having children using IVF and other therapies. A Sunday Herald Sun investigation has revealed a 30 per cent rise in fertility therapies means infertile couples are passing on their defective genes and infertility is being embedded in the national DNA. Figures going back to 2006 show up to one in 20 babies in Victoria is conceived through IVF or with the help of fertility treatment.

A survey of Melbourne IVF clinics has found a boom in treatments in the past 12 months - a trend confirmed by the Infertility Treatment Authority. Experts believe the current figure may be as high as one in 15 and will increase. One in six Victorian couples suffers fertility problems.

A new international study has found sperm counts and birth rates are declining in developed countries, including Australia. Professors Jens Bonde, of Denmark's Aarhus University Hospital, and Jorn Olsen, of the University of California, say sperm counts and birth rates are declining in developed countries. The researchers say infertility now affects about 15 per cent of couples trying to conceive, though not all seek medical help.

Sub-fertility is the term given to couples who have lower than normal fertility but may still be able to conceive naturally. Infertile couples cannot conceive without medical help. The researchers raise the alarm about the possible effect of environmental pollution with gender-bending chemicals. They say that may explain the fertility problems.

Factors such as women choosing to delay motherhood because of careers and the desire for smaller families "may [or may not] mask more worrying biological changes in the population", the researchers say in this month's British Medical Journal. In particular, IVF and other techniques mean many sub-fertile couples who would have been forced to remain childless a generation ago can now have families. Technological advances can compensate for low sperm count and poor quality sperm.

In the past, a woman with normal fertility would have had little chance of becoming pregnant if her partner suffered from such severe sperm problems - most of which are linked to defective genes. But the scientists say these genes are perpetuated as a result of the success of IVF.

Monash IVF co-founder Gab Kovacs confirms the boom in fertility treatments while questioning the claims of an infertility crisis. He has had heard of the research, but says the effects would not be experienced for at least 30 years. "No one is sure about that yet, but I believe the effects would be insignificant because infertility problems are a mix of issues that are not just gene-related," he says.


Who Says You Need Eight Glasses a Day? The history of a debunked theory

A recent editorial (PDF) in the Journal of the American Society for Nephrology is getting wide press coverage for debunking the so-called "8x8" theory-the popularly held belief that drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily helps remove toxins, improve skin tone, and increase satiety, among other health benefits. The authors chalk up the belief to folklore, and newspaper reports claim ignorance as to its provenance. Just how long has this idea been around?

Two-hundred years, at least. The most commonly cited source for the 8x8 myth-highlighted in this 2002 review paper by a Dartmouth professor-is the U.S. government-sponsored Food and Nutrition Board.* The board's "Recommended Dietary Allowances" from 1945 include the following advice:

A suitable allowance of water for adults is 2.5 liters daily in most instances. An ordinary standard for diverse persons is 1 milliliter for each calorie of food. Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods.

According to this theory, people ignored the last part of the statement, which points out that you can get most of that water just by eating. If you actually had to drink all 2.5 liters, you'd need around 10 8-ounce glasses per day. By 1959, the concept was so entrenched that Groucho Marx could joke about self-righteous centenarians who claim that they eat "raw turkey liver" for breakfast and drink "thirty-two glasses of water a day" instead of "eight glasses a day like the rest of us."

However, the Explainer has uncovered evidence of the 8x8 myth going all the way back to 1796, in a German text by Dr. Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland called Makrobiotik. The book includes an anecdote about the surgeon general to the king of Prussia, a vibrant 80-year-old man who had "contracted the habit of drinking daily from seven to eight glasses" of cold water and thus "enjoyed much better health than in his youth." (An English translation is available in this book from 1843.)

The hydrotherapy craze that swept through Europe and then America in the late 19th century encouraged the notion that people needed to be drinking more water. By 1900, the New York Evangelist reported that a women's association on the Lower East Side was being instructed by a Dr. Vinton that one needed to ingest "at least eight glasses of water a day" and take "four times as much water as food." (Incidentally, the girls were also told that it was dangerous to get one's feet wet, that it wasn't good to "wear many skirts," and that their brains were "soft like jelly.") By the 1910s and 1920s, the popular press was full of exhortations to consume six to eight glasses on a daily basis. Charles Atlas, the bodybuilder whose famous comic-strip ads were highly popular from the '20s through the '70s, was fond of recommending the same amount.

In more recent decades, there have been plenty of proponents of the 8x8 theory. In 1967, Dr. Irwin Stillman, one of the earliest advocates of a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, insisted that his followers drink eight glasses of water a day in order to wash away ketones, or "ashes left in the furnace." The controversial 1992 bestseller Your Body's Many Cries for Water, which calls for a minimum of eight to 10 glasses of pure water a day (not coffee, not soda), probably played a role in spreading the myth, as has the bottled-water industry, which has exploded since the 1980s.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Who Says You Need Eight Glasses a Day?"

This is funny, since over the years I've read about dozens of studies that alcohol prevents heart disease, and besides ALWAYS say non-drinkers should not start drinking (uh, duh, why not?) and always point out that more than two drinks a day is a great evil. But! Epistemological studies (that include utterly malnourished alcoholic types) contradict studies of how healthy, well-nourished people gain protection from heart disease, the more so the more they drink, right on up to eight drinks a day. Also, doctors and addiction centers NEVER suggest the two liver supporting dietary supplements that would stop chronic alcoholics from dying of cirrhosis: folic acid (definitely!) and (possibly) the herb Milk Thistle.

This is similar to another obscure fact and its even more obscure solution: women who prefer red meat "well done" instead of "medium rare" have 500% higher breast cancer rates. Two reasons exist. First, any gal who can't enjoy a PROPERLY cooked hamburger is probably very uptight, a known health risk in general, since uptight people have high stress hormone levels that shut the immune system down. Second though, is that over-cooked meat develops an honest to God CARCINOGEN from a single amino acid, phenylalanine, which does a dual cyclization to become a CLASSICALLY FLAT mutagen that works in the very simple fashion of EMULATING a DNA base pair so well that it sticks in between actual DNA base pairs when cells divide.

The solution? Rub the surface of a steak or burger with the contents of a Vitamin E capsule. It's an anti-oxidant, and successfully prevents the oxidative cyclization that forms a carcinogen during cooking.

This is from memory, so excuse the lack of references, but I found one on meat chemistry that visually demonstrates how the cyclization product looks just like a DNA base: