Jim Carrey throws anti-science twitter tantrum against California’s new vaccination law, makes fool of himself #science #irony

Earlier this week California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a contentious, but scientifically supported, bill enforcing strict school vaccination requirements!!! Following the signing, Jim Carrrey went on a rant on twitter raging against the bill.

Carrey claims that he’s not anti-vaccine, just anti- ‘toxins’ in vaccines. Too bad the science behind these compounds being ‘toxins’ is about as good as the science showing that vaccines cause autism (hint- its not good science). Apparently no one ever sent Jim Carrey this meme showing the basic chemistry difference between mercury and a mercury containing compound. #SCIENCE

Carrey can claim that he isn’t anti-vaccine, but he is still clearly misinformed when it comes to vaccines and science.

Lastly, Carrey included a picture in one of his anti-‘toxin’ tweets (below, the picture has been removed by twitter).

Turns out that the boy actually suffers from the disease Tuberous sclerosis, which has nothing to do with vaccines, but IS associated with autism. The boys mother couldn’t be more annoyed that her son’s image was misused by Carrey in such a way.

“Jim Carrey has a huge platform — a huge following — and is misrepresenting my son’s image by attaching it to his anti-vax rant,” Alex’s mother, Karen Echols, told BuzzFeed News by email.

Alex was born with a genetic syndrome called tuberous sclerosis, or TSC, which causes benign tumors to grow all over the body, including the brain. Many children with TSC have autism, including Alex.

Alex’s photo was removed from Carrey’s tweet on Wednesday night after Echols filed a copyright complaint to Twitter. (Echols’ first-ever tweet was to Carrey asking him to take the picture down.) The tweet had already been retweeted nearly 600 times.

Echols first found out about Carrey’s tweet when her brother-in-law posted it to her Facebook wall.​ Her sister, Elizabeth Welch, is also upset about Carrey using the photo out of context. “It kind of felt like he was mocking [Alex], and that’s what was upsetting,” Welch told BuzzFeed News.

“I’m very disgusted and sickened that a celebrity would use a photo like this that was used in the first place to spread awareness of Tuberous Sclerosis to mock him and and my sister for vaccinations,” Welch wrote. “Even if that was not his intended outcome, it is what happened.”

Apparently the hilarious, but scientifically misinformed, actor hasn’t learned the vaccines-cause-autism-etc-lesson from ex-wife Jenny McCarthy. Yikes!

Can your birth month predict disease risk? – Interesting new computational study!! – and VIDEO!

Columbia University scientists have developed a computational method to investigate the relationship between birth month and disease risk. The researchers used this algorithm to examine New York City medical databases and found 55 diseases that correlated with the season of birth. Overall, the study indicated people born in May had the lowest disease risk, and those born in October the highest.

Can we understand Alzheimer’s disease by studying Down syndrome? Elizabeth Head explains @US_Conversation

Studying Down syndrome might help us understand Alzheimer’s disease better

Elizabeth Head, University of Kentucky

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia in older adults. At the moment there is no cure, but many clinicians feel that the earlier one is diagnosed, the better the possibilities are for treatment or slowing the disease.

But developing treatments or prevention approaches for Alzheimer’s disease is difficult. There is no biomarker (for example a blood test) or definitive medical test for it and there is no set age where people develop memory impairments and dementia.

Indeed, people can develop Alzheimer’s disease as young as 30 or well into old age. This is a real challenge for diagnosing Alzheimer’s in its early stages.

But in people with Down syndrome there is an age-dependent progression of changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease. This makes it much easier to map when and what kinds of changes happen in the brain in the early stages of the disease.

If we can understand how and when changes in the brain start to happen in people with Down syndrome, that could help us find ways to slow or prevent Alzheimer’s disease in this vulnerable group and for others with Alzheimer’s.

Adults with Down syndrome may provide insights for Alzheimer’s

The lifespan of people with Down syndrome has dramatically improved from 25 years in 1983 to over 60 years today although some minority groups still have lower lifespans.

Although many people with Down syndrome remain healthy as they get older, most are vulnerable to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Virtually all people with Down syndrome over 40 years old develop Alzheimer’s disease. It is estimated that over 70% in their 60’s and older also have dementia. This is a much higher rate than people without Down syndrome.

An image of beta-amyloid plaques in a 67-year-old patient with Down syndrome
Elizabeth Head, Author provided

Over 95% of people with Down syndrome have a full extra copy of chromosome 21. There are two other causes of Down syndrome that include partial trisomy 21 where only a piece of chromosome 21 and associated genes are triplicated. The third type of Down syndrome is called mosaicism, where not all of the cells in the body have a fully extra copy of chromosome 21.

The gene for amyloid precursor protein, which is thought to be important for Alzheimer’s disease, is located on chromosome 21.

This amyloid precursor protein is cut into smaller pieces and the smaller protein, called beta-amyloid, is toxic to the cells in our brain or neurons. It collects into structures called beta-amyloid plaques, which are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s in all people. The plaques make it hard for neurons to communicate.

In people without Down syndrome there are normally two copies of this gene. In people with Down syndrome there are three copies of the gene because of the extra copy of chromosome 21. That means from an early age people with Down syndrome are making more of the beta-amyloid protein.

Beta-amyloid plaques are consistently observed in the brains of those with Down syndrome in their 30s, but they have also been reported in people eight- to 15 years old.

How does the brain change in people with Down syndrome as they get older?

Neurofibrillary tangles.
Elizabeth Head, Author provided

The second feature of Alzheimer’s disease is neurofibrillary tangles. These are made up of a protein called tau that builds up inside of neurons in the brain and prevents them from functioning properly.

For people without Down syndrome, these neurofibrillary tangles can start to develop anywhere from age 30 to over 100 years. But for people with Down syndrome these tangles do not start to accumulate until they are over 40 years old. This is another example of how it may be easier to understand Alzheimer’s disease in people with Down syndrome because we know the ages at which neurofibrillary tangles begin.

Cerebrovascular pathology.
Elizabeth Head, Author provided

Other changes that are common in Alzheimer’s disease also happen with age in Down syndrome including increasing brain inflammation, oxidative damage and loss of proteins in synapses, which are the connections between nerve cells of the brain. All of these features may lead to impaired brain function.

When we learn more about when these changes happen, we can also start to think about ways to prevent or reverse them.

What does dementia look like in people with Down syndrome?

Many people are aware of the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease and that the loss of short-term memory is one of the key features.

For people with Down syndrome the evidence suggests similar changes may also happen in cognition and behavior as in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Memory and thinking changes also appear in dementia with Down syndrome, but are more difficult to observe because of the nature of the intellectual disability.

But other changes, like social withdrawal, mood changes (including anxiety and depression), aggressive behavior, lack of interest in usual activities, change in sleep pattern and irritability, are easier to detect in Down syndrome. Similar changes also happen in people without Down syndrome who develop dementia in the moderate to severe stages of the disease.

What changes can we see in the brain by imaging?

The brains of people with Down syndrome have some differences compared to people of a similar age without Down syndrome. For example, in people in their 40s, the hippocampus of someone with Down syndrome may already show signs of atrophy (getting smaller) signaling early Alzheimer’s disease, a change we do not usually see in people without Down syndrome.

Our research group has been studying the connections between different brain structures by measuring white matter integrity – which is how well the long axons, the threadlike parts of neurons that connect to other neurons, are functioning. We do this by measuring how water molecules move along axons in people with Down syndrome.

We have found that the frontal lobes in people with Down syndrome may become increasingly disconnected from other parts of the brain. Similar changes in the white matter connections happen in Alzheimer’s disease in general.

In our study we see these changes in people in their late 30s, when we typically do not see these changes at all in people without Down syndrome.

If we can understand the predictive value of these images then we can determine what age is best to intervene and prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease not only in Down syndrome but also in the general population.

Not everyone with Down syndrome develops Alzheimer’s disease

Some older adults with Down syndrome never develop dementia despite a genetic vulnerability to the disease. Because of this, we may get some fascinating new leads on ways to promote healthy brain aging in people with Down syndrome that may also be translated to the larger population.

Following people with Down syndrome as they age will provide exciting new approaches to promote brain health in this vulnerable group of individuals. To facilitate aging studies in Down syndrome, the National Institutes of Child Health and Development has taken the initiative to launch a Down Syndrome Registry that will help connect families with researchers and resources – and hopefully benefit people with Down syndrome by identifying ways to enrich their development and reduce risk of disease.

The Conversation

Elizabeth Head is Associate Professor at University of Kentucky.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

More proof of vaccine effectiveness – PAHO announces elimination of Rubella in Americas!!

South and North America have eradicated Rubella virus with use of vaccines (which DO NOT cause autism)!! This is the third virus that has been eliminated from the Americas using vaccines. More info here at NPR.

The Americas have led the way when it comes to eradicating diseases. It was the first region in the world to eradicate smallpox in 1971 and then polio in 1994. And the PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) already has its sights on another target.

However, elimination of this virus, or others, does not mean people should stop vaccinating. It demonstrates the importance and effectiveness of vaccination.

The eradication of rubella doesn’t mean we’ll never see the virus again in the U.S. People still bring it here from other countries. But it doesn’t spread far because so many Americans are vaccinated.

Despite the success of vaccines in eradicating these harmful and lethal diseases, there is still more to do!

“With rubella under our belt, now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and finish the job of eliminating measles as well,” Etienne (director of PAHO) said.

I guess PAHO should start in California, hahahaha (not really funny). Who said vaccines are ineffective??? And what did they base that lie on??

#Science Quotable: Newt Gingrich – Double the NIH budget #unexpected

Even as we’ve let financing for basic scientific and medical research stagnate, government spending on health care has grown significantly. That should trouble every fiscal conservative. As a conservative myself, I’m often skeptical of government “investments.” But when it comes to breakthroughs that could cure — not just treat — the most expensive diseases, government is unique. It alone can bring the necessary resources to bear. (The federal government funds roughly a third of all medical research in the United States.) And it is ultimately on the hook for the costs of illness. It’s irresponsible and shortsighted, not prudent, to let financing for basic research dwindle.

House and Senate negotiators are at work on a budget resolution for the fiscal year that starts on Oct. 1, and the N.I.H. should be a priority. Doubling the institutes’ budget once again would be a change on the right scale, although that increase should be accompanied by reforms to make the N.I.H. less bureaucratic, to give the director more flexibility to focus resources on the most common and expensive health problems, and to place a stronger emphasis on truly breakthrough research.

We are in a time of unimaginable scientific and technological progress. By funding basic medical research, Congress can transform our fiscal health, and our personal health, too.

– Newt Gingrich in a New York Times Op-Ed (see the link for the full op-ed), including nice examples for fiscal conservatives!

The call to DOUBLE the NIH budget from Gingrich is fantastic, even if it is somewhat unexpected. Bipartisan support, including from conservatives, is needed to keep the United States at the top of biomedical research.

As a side note, the call to increase support and funding solely on ‘expensive’ diseases should be dealt with caution. Funding very disease specific research will not necessarily equate with treatments or cures. Scientific and biomedical research has proven time and again that treatments and cures are most likely to come out of more basic scientific studies in unexpected ways.

Shout out to Sam for the heads up!!!

What to say when parents hesitate about vaccines – Kristin Hendrix @US_Conversation

When parents hesitate about vaccines, what should health-care providers say?

By Kristin S. Hendrix, Indiana University School of Medicine

In recent years, the US has witnessed multiple outbreaks of vaccine-preventable illnesses, including pertussis (whooping cough) and measles. In the same time frame, vaccine refusal rates have gone up, and an increasing number of parents are requesting modified vaccine schedules that differ from the one recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The majority of parents do have their children vaccinated on schedule. It’s a small number of parents who refuse all vaccinations for their children. A slightly larger minority want their children to receive some but not all vaccines or want a different vaccination schedule.

Why do these groups disregard AAP recommendations about vaccination? A 2011 study suggests it has a lot to do with fear of vaccines’ negative side effects. Some parents worry about the “chemical composition” of vaccines or multiple vaccines being given at once. Some don’t believe vaccines are effective. Others feel the illnesses some vaccines protect against, like influenza or varicella (chickenpox), aren’t that serious. Importantly, though not the focus of this article, the AAP Committee on Bioethics notes that some parents might refuse vaccines due to cost issues or barriers to accessing appropriate health services.

Although research overwhelmingly supports the safety and effectiveness of vaccines and indicates that the risk of negative side effects from childhood vaccines is extremely small, many parents still have concerns about vaccine safety.

Parents today have access to incredible amounts of information via the internet, which has been shown to significantly affect parents’ vaccine attitudes. Within this wealth of information about immunization, it can be challenging for parents to separate what’s reliable from what’s not. And, we tend to seek out, pay more attention to, and recall information that we suspect might be true. This is called biased assimilation. So a parent who believes vaccines are dangerous might preferentially register information supporting that view.

The continuum of vaccine attitudes

Vaccine attitudes fall on a continuum. At one end, there are parents who are completely in favor of vaccines, and at the other end are parents who oppose vaccines. In between there is a broad and complex spectrum of parents who are vaccine-hesitant or vaccine-uncertain. The common thread among all parents – no matter their vaccination choices – is that they’re trying to do what they feel is best for their children.

A flyer meant to educate about the rubella virus and benefits of the vaccine.
CDC/ Molly Kurnit; Melanie Jankun

With parents who fall towards the vaccine-opposing end of the spectrum, health-care providers can experience difficulty when trying to change attitudes about vaccines. These parents may have strong feelings and be very confident in what they believe to be true about vaccines. But parents somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, who are hesitant or uncertain about vaccines, are oftentimes less set in their beliefs about vaccination. That’s why some researchers stress the importance of proactive intervention efforts aimed at the very broad group of vaccine-hesitant parents. Parents on this part of the continuum are typically receptive to information about vaccination from trusted health-care providers. Thus, the way nurses and physicians communicate with these parents about vaccination is very important.

How should health-care providers talk about vaccines?

There is a wealth of research examining communication about vaccines, and researchers are still identifying what methods tend to work well. Communication about vaccination occurs in a variety of ways, from one-on-one conversations with doctors and nurses to large-scale outreach from health departments, such as billboards and radio ads.

What can make the provider-parent discussion about childhood vaccination a complex one is that parents’ decisions and attitudes vary, depending, for example, on the type of vaccine. And, in many cases when parents have negative attitudes about vaccines, they’re often based on erroneous information or hearing emotional narrative accounts about adverse reactions from a vaccine. It can also be very challenging for health-care providers to correct people’s misperceptions about risks.

There are a few strategies that health-care providers can use when talking about immunization with vaccine-hesitant parents. In clinical settings, although potentially time-consuming in already-short appointments, it’s important to address parents’ specific concerns. Clinicians should discuss vaccines from multiple perspectives, like the benefits of vaccination (preventing illness for oneself and others), as well as the risks of not vaccinating (being susceptible to illness). Research suggests that tailoring the discussion to parents’ concerns can positively affect the provider-parent relationship and foster trust.

Since health-care providers can help build public trust in vaccines, communicating accurate information about risks should be part of the conversation. Here, it might be tempting to avoid discussion about the risk of any negative side effects of vaccination, even though the risk is very low. But risk communication is vital.

The AAP suggests tailoring the conversation to the parents, understanding and responding to their specific concerns. Physicians should talk to parents about managing common side effects and what to do if a more serious reaction occurs. For some parents, quantifying the risks of vaccinating versus not vaccinating could be helpful. Providing written materials to explain risk is another strategy. It is important to note, however, that more research is needed. Several researchers urge caution about some vaccine communication strategies for fear they may “backfire” and decrease parents’ intentions to vaccinate their children.

What about discussing herd immunity?

A 2013 study on what influences adults to the get the flu shot suggests people may be more likely to get vaccinated if their peers do it. Among adults, evidence also suggests awareness of herd immunity – or when a critical threshold of individuals is vaccinated so as to make it harder for an illness to spread – can have a positive effect on one’s intention to be vaccinated. Though adults are most concerned about their personal risk of getting sick, they can also be sensitive to the societal benefits of vaccination. However, when it comes to parents deciding whether to vaccinate their children, it may be more important to focus on the direct benefits of immunization for the child. Though mentioning societal benefits of vaccination will likely not hurt.

To presume or not presume?

In order to increase vaccine uptake among parents for their children, some researchers recommend a “presumptive” approach, which assumes parents are going to vaccinate their children. This is compared to a “participatory” approach in which the health-care provider asks parents about their preferences on vaccination. These investigators question the appropriateness of shared decision making in the context of vaccine decisions.

However, other researchers advocate for a “guiding” approach. Here the focus is on addressing vaccine-hesitant parents’ concerns and helping them to understand vaccines’ importance and necessity. It differs from a “directive” approach wherein the provider essentially instructs parents to vaccinate.

More research is needed to determine which interventions and ways of communicating information about vaccination are most effective at reducing parents’ vaccine hesitancy and refusal. What is clear from existing research is that respectful, tailored communications and recommendations to immunize coming directly from the health-care provider are associated with increased vaccination uptake.

The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

NYC Ebola survivor Dr. Craig Spencer – video and lessons learned

Check out this video of Dr. Craig Spencer describing his time treating Ebola in Guinea and then contracting the disease himself in NYC. More info here.

He writes about his illness as a missed opportunity for the news media to educate the public about the disease. “After my diagnosis, the media and politicians could have educated the public about Ebola. Instead, they spent hours retracing my steps through New York and debating whether Ebola can be transmitted through a bowling ball.”

CDC analysis again highlights HIV testing and treatment in prevention of new HIV cases #GetTested

A new press release from CDC shows that 9 out of 10 new U.S. HIV infections come from people not receiving HIV care. The release is based on a new CDC analysis and reinforces the importance of HIV testing and treatment for health and prevention.

The analysis showed that 30 percent of new HIV infections were transmitted from people who did not know that they were infected with the virus, highlighting the importance of getting tested. People who had been diagnosed were less likely to transmit their infection, in part because people who know they have HIV are more likely to take steps to protect their partners from infection.

Anti-Science Quotable: Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore – Cancer is a fungus…. #science

I assure you Michele, Cancer is not a fungus. Unbelievable… more info here.

If you have cancer, which I believe is a fungus, and we can put a pic line into your body and we’re flushing with, say, salt water, sodium cardonate (I think she means bicarbonate), through that line and flushing out the fungus. These are some procedures that are not FDA-approved in America that are very inexpensive, cost-effective.

-Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, citing a widely debunked theory that the American Cancer Society warns about!

New interactive map shows the germs at your local NYC subway stop! Fun… and scary!! #science

sub

Check out this awesome interactive map of the bacteria in New York City’s subway system (from the Wall Street Journal)!! The map is one of the results of a huge project looking at bacteria and other germs and microbiology in the City’s transit system! Above I took a screenshot of the map for the subway station next to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital at 168th St, including 108 bacteria that can cause all sorts of problems – including antibiotic resistant bacteria! This is a super fun tool…. unless you’re a germaphobe, in which case it is horrifying  :/

Every day, New York City’s 5.5 million commuters seed the city subways with bacteria from the food they eat, the pets or plants they keep, and their shoes, sneezes and unwashed hands.

For the first time, researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College sampled DNA in New York City’s 466 open subway stations. They found genetic material from 15,152 different species, most of them harmless or unidentified. Almost half the DNA belonged to bacteria. No two subway stations were exactly the same, and the research continues.

So far, the scientists have identified 67 bacteria species associated with disease and infections. Here are details on a few of the bacteria found.