Medical News

A helpful article on the subject. How much merit is there in the claim that marijuana is harmless and medically useful, and what are the negative effects of cannabis use?

Marijuana (cannabis) is the most widely used illegal drug in many developed countries. Medical studies have shown that the active ingredient in marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), might provide some medical benefits in some patients. Under the impression that these benefits were substantial, voters in California and Arizona approved initiatives allowing the use of “medical” marijuana by patients under certain circumstances. This paper represents a current review of the medical literature regarding the benefits and drawbacks of using marijuana for medical or recreational purposes. A companion paper examines the moral and biblical questions about the Christian’s use of marijuana.

More… (source)


Those of you who read this blog probably aren’t worried about the swine flu, but for the sake of interest, here are a few facts:

Q: What is swine flu?

A: Pigs spread their own strains of influenza and every so often people catch one, usually after contact with the animals. This new strain is a mix of pig viruses with some human and bird viruses. Unlike more typical swine flu, it is spreading person-to-person.

A 1976 outbreak of another unusual swine flu at Fort Dix, N.J., prompted a problematic mass vaccination campaign, but that time the flu fizzled out. [The flu itself killed two people, while the vaccine killed at least 25 people.]

Q: How easy is it to catch this virus?

A: Scientists don’t yet know if it takes fairly close or prolonged contact with someone who’s sick, or if it’s more easily spread. But in general, flu viruses are spread through uncovered coughs and sneezes, or by touching your mouth or nose with unwashed hands.

Flu viruses can live on surfaces for several hours, like a doorknob just touched by someone who sneezed into his hand.

Q: Should I get a seasonal flu shot, and if so why?

A: The seasonal flu shot will not protect against swine flu.

Q: Is there anything that helps patients with swine flu get better?

A: The virus is vulnerable to the anti-viral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza.

More… (source)

ScienceDaily (Feb. 27, 2009) — While scientists have identified one protein, dystrophin, as an important piece to curing muscular dystrophy, another part of the mystery has eluded scientists for the past 14 years. Now, scientists have identified the location of the genetic material responsible for a molecular compound that is vital to curing the disease…

Since 1994, researchers have known about the importance of nNOS, but have not been able to determine how to produce nNOS in a dystrophic muscle, or a muscle lacking dystrophin. Many scientists have tried to solve this mystery without success. In his most recent study, published Monday in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, Duan and his team identified the location of genetic material responsible for the production of nNOS.

Following the identification of the genetic material, Duan and his team created a series of new dystrophin genes. In their study, they used dystrophic mice to test the efficacy of these new genes. After genetically correcting the mice with the new dystrophin gene, Duan’s team discovered that the missing nNOS was now restored in the dystrophic muscle. The mice that received the new gene did not experience muscle damage or fatigue following exercise.

“With this new discovery, we’ve solved a longstanding mystery of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy,” Duan said. “This will change the way we approach gene therapy for DMD patients in the future. With this study, we have finally found the genetic material that can fully restore all the functions required for correcting a dystrophic muscle and turning it into a normal muscle.”…

More… (source)

January 20, 2009 ( – Research will be presented this week at the Stem Cell World Congress in Palm Springs, California, that purports to show that AIDS might be treated using stem cells taken from the patient’s own body. The researchers say they hope that a single transplant treatment would be available that would permanently prevent the immunodeficiency that is a result of HIV infection.

Dr. David DiGiusto, director of haematopoietic cell therapies at City of Hope Medical Centre in Duarte, California, said that although the possibility of a widespread treatment halting the progression of the disease is still at least a decade away, “we hope that eventually we will be able to give AIDS patients just one transplant and that would then protect them for life.”

More… (source)

January 23, 2008 (Canwest News Service) – California researchers have found that if pregnant women have more than 200 mg of caffeine per day, they are twice as likely to miscarry than women who avoid caffeine…

In what is believed the clearest and strongest evidence yet linking caffeine to miscarriage, California researchers who followed more than 1,000 pregnant women found those who consumed 200 mg or more of caffeine daily — the equivalent of two cups of regular coffee, or five, 12-ounce cans of caffeinated pop — had twice the risk of miscarriage as women who avoided caffeine.

Even women who consumed less that 200 mg of caffeine a day had a 42% increased risk of losing the pregnancy…

Past studies have shown a link between caffeine and miscarriage, but there has been a complicating factor: Women who get morning sickness often give up coffee. And these women are less likely to have a miscarriage in the first place, as morning sickness is one sign of a healthy pregnancy…

Dr. Li’s study is the first to “control” for morning sickness, meaning scientists took it into account before tallying up the final results. About 15% of “clinically recognized” pregnancies end in miscarriage…

Caffeine readily crosses the placental barrier, so it can go straight to the fetus. The earlier the exposure, the less likely the fetus is to metabolize it because of an under-developed metabolic system. As well, caffeine, particularly at high doses, makes blood vessels contract.

If that contraction is severe enough, it may reduce blood flow to the placenta. “That can have detrimental effects to the fetus as well,” Dr. Li said.

His team recruited 1,063 San Francisco women from October of 1996 to October of 1998. Women were recruited early in their pregnancy — as early as four weeks gestation — “so we were able to capture a lot of miscarriages that most studies missed,” Dr. Li said…

Overall, 172 women, or 16%, miscarried. The higher the intake of caffeine from any source — coffee, tea, caffeine-containing soft drinks or hot chocolate — the greater the risk of early or late miscarriage. Compared with non-users, women who consumed 0-200 mg of caffeine daily had an increased risk of miscarriage (15% versus 12%). The risk was higher (25%) in women who consumed more than 200 mg of caffeine daily.

More… (source)

May 7, 2007 (Newsweek) – Consider someone who has just died of a heart attack. His organs are intact, he hasn’t lost blood. All that’s happened is his heart has stopped beating—the definition of “clinical death”—and his brain has shut down to conserve oxygen. But what has actually died?

As recently as 1993, when Dr. Sherwin Nuland wrote the best seller “How We Die,” the conventional answer was that it was his cells that had died. The patient couldn’t be revived because the tissues of his brain and heart had suffered irreversible damage from lack of oxygen. This process was understood to begin after just four or five minutes. If the patient doesn’t receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation within that time, and if his heart can’t be restarted soon thereafter, he is unlikely to recover. That dogma went unquestioned until researchers actually looked at oxygen-starved heart cells under a microscope. What they saw amazed them, according to Dr. Lance Becker, an authority on emergency medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “After one hour,” he says, “we couldn’t see evidence the cells had died. We thought we’d done something wrong.” In fact, cells cut off from their blood supply died only hours later…

More… (source)

Not particularly on topic, but interesting article nonetheless:

November 16, 2006 (CBC News) – Researchers have found a quick and cheap way to test for viruses using nanotechnology, according to a report in a journal published Thursday.

The 60-second test cuts “days to weeks” off the wait for lab results from a doctor’s office, said lead author Ralph Tripp, a vaccine development expert at the University of Georgia.

“You could actually apply it to a person walking off a plane and know if they’re infected,” he said in a release.

The diagnostic test could identify viruses as diverse as influenza, HIV and respiratory syncytial virus, a common cause of bronchitis in infants and colds in adults.

More… (source)

Next Page »