In this edition...
Health and Environment
Sweet news: Chocolate compound stops cancer cell cycle
Full story: Science Daily
Researchers have shown how an ingredient found in chocolate seems to exert its anti-cancer properties. Chocolate is made from the beans of cacao trees, (which) are rich in natural antioxidants known as flavonoids. These antioxidants may protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals, which are thought to contribute to both heart disease and cancer development.
Chocolate, like many other foods, is the source of many possible anti-cancer compounds, but Dickson (the study's lead author) stresses that this research, which is part of a series of studies conducted at Georgetown on the chocolate-cancer connection, does not mean that people who eat chocolate will either reduce their cancer risks or treat a current case. (Editor's note: darn!)
Science Daily - April 18, 2005
Fruit, veggies tied to lower pancreatic cancer risk
Full story: Reuters
New (Canadian) research suggests that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help prevent pancreatic cancer (in men), a particularly deadly type of tumor. The findings, based on a comparison of 585 pancreatic cancer patients and about 4,779 adults without the disease, suggest that the risk of the cancer declines as fruit and vegetable intake increases.
The findings, published in the International Journal of Cancer (May 1, 2005), add to a growing body of evidence on the role of diet in pancreatic cancer risk. Other studies have suggested that diets heavy in saturated fat, salted meats or dairy products may raise the risk. With its often rapidly fatal course, the only way to address pancreatic cancer right now is through prevention, (the authors) note in their report.
Reuters - April 1, 2005
(particularly difficult-to-treat ovarian and pancreatic cancers) MSNBC News (April 20, 2005)
Drinking milk may raise Parkinson's risk in men
Full story: Yahoo! News
Middle-aged men who drink a glass or two of milk each day may be increasing their risk of developing Parkinson's disease later in life, new research suggests. The ingredient or possible contaminant in milk responsible for this effect is unclear, but the current findings suggest it's not the calcium. The new findings support those of an earlier report linking high consumption of dairy products with an elevated risk of Parkinson's disease among men, but not women.
The current study involved 7504 men, who were enrolled in the Honolulu Heart Program between 45 and 68 years of age and followed for 30 years for the development of Parkinson's disease. The final statistical analysis showed that heavy milk drinkers were 2.3-times more likely to develop Parkinson's disease than non-milk drinkers.
Yahoo! News - April 6, 2005
Scientist exposes U.S. mad cow coverup
Full story: Canada.com
A scientist and former inspector for the U.S Agriculture Department says he's willing to take a lie detector test to back his claim that his government is covering up mad cow disease. A spokesman for the Canadian Cattlemen's Association said it does seem puzzling that four mad cow cases have been detected in Canadian-born cattle but none in U.S.-born cattle. There are 120 million cattle in the United States, 15 million in Canada. "It's true that the risk... is very similar" he said.
Michael Hansen, a scientist with the U.S. Consumers Union in Washington, said there are suspicions about a recent case when officials at an abattoir noticed a cow was staggering. "The federal inspectors and the plant employees all wanted to test the animal and basically (the USDA) said, 'Nah, we're not going to do that.' So the animal was sent to rendering and was never tested." Hansen said there appears to be a great lack of eagerness to detect mad cow in the United States.
Canada.com - April 15, 2005
CBC News (April 13, 2005)
Wisconsin Ag Connection (April 8, 2005)
Reuters (April 15, 2005)
XINHUA online (April 19, 2005)
University Of Michigan unveils healing foods pyramid
Full story: Science Daily
The University of Michigan Integrative Medicine Clinical Services has unveiled its Healing Foods Pyramid, which emphasizes foods known to have healing benefits, plant-based choices, variety and balance, support of a healthful environment, and mindful eating.
This Healing Foods Pyramid begins with a foundation of water. A final category remains empty, awaiting the user's addition of food healing to that individual, to be consumed occasionally, thus personalizing each pyramid. The Healing Foods Pyramid offers choices that can be mixed and matched to accommodate most people, whether they are free of health challenges, vegetarian or have specific dietary needs.
Science Daily - March 3, 2005
University of Michigan Integrative Medicine
eMaxhealth (April 19, 2005)
Lifestyles and Trends
Heather Mills McCartney tells her story
Full story: Yahoo! News UK & Ireland
Heather Mills McCartney, wife of Sir Paul, claims a vegetarian diet may help cure cancer. She became a vegetarian after losing a leg in a motorcycle accident 12 years ago. The wound became infected and she was in danger of undergoing further amputation, she said, until she cut meat and fish from her diet.
Mills McCartney declared: "I find it astonishing that people keep fuelling their bodies with junk as if they were immortal." Mills McCartney wrote the article after a recent study which claimed parents who put their children on a vegan diet could be harming their development. Sir Paul was so incensed that he rang a radio station to rubbish the report.
Yahoo! News UK & Ireland - March 22, 2005
Animal rights gains foothold as law career
Full story: The Boston Globe
Animal rights law has begun to blossom into a viable career path for a new generation of attorneys (who) are laying the legal foundation establishing that pets have intrinsic worth. Ultimately, says Steven Wise, author of "Rattling the Cage," a seminal work on the subject, this foundation will support a ruling that animals are not property but have rights of their own and thus legal standing. Wise's confidence stems from the growing body of science showing that "nonhuman animals" are smarter and more aware than previously believed.
And just as important as the science is the growing army of legally trained advocates arguing the cause. "I think this will follow the course of movements like civil rights, or gay rights, or women's rights," said Sonia Waisman, one of the authors of the textbook used to teach most law courses on animal rights.
The Boston Globe - March 6, 2005
The Arizona Republic (April 19, 2005)
Vegetarian experiences: A childhood trauma ignites passion for animal rights
Full story: The Columbia Missourian
Seeing a slaughtered pig as a boy was something Jim Mason said he will never forget. "I blacked out, and family members told me that I was hysterical for a few days," Mason said. "I had nightmares and had to leave the farm to stay with my aunt. I didn't want to return to the farm."
A new understanding of animal rights and humane animal treatment was what led him to become an activist and environmentalist, Mason said. Mason's latest book is "An Unnatural Order: Why We Are Destroying the Planet and Each Other," in which he analyzes how the (evangelical Christian) dominionist view has made humans believe that they are supreme beings and that everything else - including animals, who were once seen as equals - is below them.
The Columbia Missourian - April 19, 2005
Articulate response to "Why are you vegan" points out the real question should be "Why aren't YOU?"
Full story: Collegiate Times
As soon as people find out that I'm vegan the first thing out of their mouths is always, "Really; why?" This seems like such a simple question, but I'm always overwhelmed by it. How do I explain the reasons for my decision in a succinct one or two sentence rationalization when there are so many complex justifications for it?
I don't mean to say that adopting a plant-based diet is a cure-all for everything, but how many other simple choices can have such a beneficial effect on your life and the lives of others? After going through all these reasons, the question to ask yourself isn't "Why should I be vegan?" but instead, "Why shouldn't I? Why shouldn't I adopt a diet that saves animals' lives, the environment, other people and my health?"
Collegiate Times - April 6, 2005
Animal Issues and Advocacy
Stunningly cruel experiment on pigs
Full story: The Janesville Gazette
And this little piggy got high on cocaine and pumped with 50,000 volts of electricity. A professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison plans to study whether stun guns alone can kill pigs - or whether other medical factors must be at play - as part of an effort to understand why 70 people have died in North America since 2001 after being shocked by Tasers.
Led by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, outraged animal rights activists are calling for an end to the two-year study by John Webster, a professor emeritus of biomedical engineering. They say the study, funded by a $500,000 U.S. Department of Justice grant, is cruel and unnecessary.
The Janesville Gazette - March 29, 2005
The debate over the limits of human dominion
Full story: Guardian Unlimited
Too many people's views on animals are distorted by massive blind spots, not least a wilful reluctance to confront animal suffering when it contributes to their own interests. While hours of parliamentary time were taken up with concern for the few thousand foxes killed in the hunt, few raised any worries about where our food comes from. But if you look behind the plastic-wrapped drumsticks on our supermarket shelves you find the most urgent animal welfare issue that we face.
Another mark of civilisation is a willingness to go beyond the bounds of our selfish desires to think more widely about our place in the universe. May we exploit the resources of the natural world until they are utterly destroyed? Are there ethical limits to our dominion? The very fact that we can pose such questions distinguishes us from other animals. But the most basic foundations of a civilised debate about them - a respect for reason, argument and the other's point of view - are in short supply.
Guardian Unlimited - March 30, 2005
Winnie the pig is excellent teacher
Full story: The Boston Globe
For the last four years, we have been sponsoring a pig that narrowly escaped someone's outdoor barbecue. Frightened, injured, and starving, she was given the name "Winnie." I am a physician, and have made a commitment to reducing suffering. How then can I stand by and watch the unnecessary suffering of many farm animals destined for human consumption? Where does one draw the line at what practices are acceptable? Our visit to the Farm Sanctuary and spending time with Winnie helped my family and me put these questions in perspective.
Hogs are hung upside down, their throats are cut, and they bleed to death. They are supposed to be "stunned" first; however this practice is imprecise. If stabbing is unsuccessful, the pig will be dropped in scalding water to be boiled alive. It is easier not to consider how the flesh has arrived at your plate, and, surely this is what the farming industry prefers. Dr. Albert Schweitzer wrote, "Until he extends the circle of compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace." Humankind has a long journey toward this goal.
The Boston Globe - March 19, 2005
Of contemplating cows and manipulating parrots
Full story: Animal Planet News
Cows mull over problems and, when they solve them, sometimes even jump for joy, according to findings announced at a recent conference on animal feelings and awareness. Information also was presented on caring chimpanzees, manipulating parrots, emotional sheep, concerned cats, flies that concentrate and a gorilla that swears when angered. The delegates from nearly 50 nations believe the studies collectively suggest that animals are thinking, feeling, sentient beings that can experience emotions comparable to those felt by humans.
Parrots also become annoyed, according to Irene Pepperberg, a visiting professor at MIT's Media Lab. Pepperberg described an experiment where the parrots refused to retrieve a nut that was hanging from a string. One of the birds, Alex, who knows over 1,000 words and can form simple sentences, repeatedly asked the trainer to get the nut for him. He and the other birds became agitated when their requests were ignored. Pepperberg said that this ability to manipulate others using language previously was only thought to be a human trait. (Editor's note: They haven't met our cat, Wanda.)
Animal Planet News - March 30, 2005
Although some debate it, evidence shows fish have feelings too
Full story: The Telegraph
According to Dr Keven Laland of the University of St Andrews, fish are thought to have long-term memories and some can even be compared to non-human primates in terms of their social skills.
(But) what is important, according to Prof Duncan of Guelph University, is how an animal feels. He says: "We assume human beings have a worse time than animals do because we have the cognitive ability to imagine all the different things that can go wrong in our lives. But the converse might be true."
Imagine, for instance, a person with a broken arm and a fish with a torn fin. "The pain may be extremely severe in both cases. However, the human being's cognitive ability might help her 'think about other things'." But because animals such as fish cannot think like us, their pain might be all-consuming.
The Telegraph - March 2, 2005
Florida Today (April 3, 2005)
Did you hear the one about animal laughter?
Full story: National Geographic
As the human brain evolved, humans were able to laugh before they could speak, according to a new study. But here's the punch line: Laughter and joy are not unique to humans, the study says. Ancestral forms of play and laughter existed in other animals long before humans began cracking up. There is ample evidence that many other mammals make play sounds, including tickle-induced panting, which resembles human laughter. Indeed, animals are capable of many emotional feelings, just like humans, some scientists say.
National Geographic - March 31, 2005
Are They Serious?
Biotech tinkering getting downright scary
Full story: The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon
Stanford University scientists (recently) injected human brain cells into mouse fetuses, creating a strain of mice that was approximately 1 percent human...a follow-up experiment would produce mice whose brains are made up of 100 percent human cells. Some researchers are speculating about human-chimpanzee chimeras - creating a humanzee - a feat researchers say is quite feasible.
Please understand that none of this is science fiction. Bioethicists are already clearing the moral path for human-animal chimeric experiments, arguing that...the prospect of new, partially human creatures has much to offer the human race. Of course, this is exactly the kind of reasoning that has been put forth time and again to justify...a Brave New World in which all of nature can be ruthlessly manipulated and re-engineered to suit the momentary needs and whims and caprices of just one species, the Homo sapiens.
The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon - April 3, 2005
Is any one that hungry?
Full story: San Jose Mercury News
Even as fast-food restaurants tout their salads and low-fat milk options, they're simultaneously hard at work concocting ever-fattier temptations. Burger King introduced the Enormous Omelet Sandwich, a 730-calorie breakfast product that slaps two omelet eggs, a sausage patty, three strips of bacon and two slices of cheese into a bun. The sandwich comes with a price tag of about $3 and 47 grams of fat.
News of the sandwich raised the ire of nutrition experts. "They're trying to have it both ways," said Margo Wootan, nutrition policy director with advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest. She was referring to fast-food companies' efforts to appease critics by adding healthier menu items while continuing to sell fat- and salt-laden staple products.
San Jose Mercury News - March 29, 2005
We'll drink to this one!
Full story: The Omaha Channel
I have a confession to make: I am intimidated by wine...Thanks to Paulette Mitchell's latest cookbook, "The Spirited Vegetarian," I'm coming out of my shell...and eating some fantastically healthy and delicious meals to boot. From soups to desserts, there is something here for every palate, from the simplicity of Zucchini Pancakes to the tantalizing richness of Lasagna Rolls With Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce. In short, whether you're a dedicated vegetarian, someone looking for an occasional meatless meal or side dish or someone in need of some basic education on cooking with wine and spirits, this book needs to be on your shelf. (Recipe included for Triple Chocolate-Cassis Brownies)
The Omaha Channel - March 16, 2005
Inspiring new guide for senior fitness and health
More info: NAVS/Lantern Books
Dr. Ruth Heidrich, cancer survivor and triathlete, has just introduced an informative and inspiring new book, "Senior Fitness: The Diet and Exercise Program for Maximum Health and Longevity." Brian Graff, Co-director of the North American Vegetarian Society says: "Congratulations, Dr. Ruth. The truly inspiring story of your journey, from facing life-threatening disease to becoming a vibrantly healthy athlete, makes your advice all the more compelling.
"And, what could be more sound than your central recommendation of a whole-foods plant-based diet and regular exercise. Senior Fitness is reader-friendly, successfully making its science-backed information clearly understandable. This book may be titled Senior Fitness but, honestly, every adult, regardless of their age, would do well to read this book, and heed its message. Once I started reading it, I could not put it down."
NAVS/Lantern Books - April, 2005
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