Saturday, September 27, 2008

Learn to save a life in 2 minutes... the new CPR

Think watching a two minute video on YouTube might make you a life saver? This video just might... it is on the newest form of CPR for adults that collapse suddenly and it is called continuous chest compression CPR. The physiological basis of this CPR has been discussed in a previous blog post... but check out the video, then go read more about it.

~~~BIO 25/26~~~

Monday, September 22, 2008

TrueBlood?... blood doping and EPO

A recent story in the news reported the re-testing of blood samples from cyclists in this years Tour de France. It seems that several cyclists had suspicious urine samples related to the naturally occurring hormone erythropoietin. In all our bodies, erythropoietin (EPO) is produced by cells in the kidney. EPO circulates in the bloodstream eventually signaling to marrows cells in the cavities of our bones to stimulate production of new red blood cells (erythrocytes). The production of new RBCs is termed... erythropoiesis. Drug companies produce and market synthetic forms of EPO to treat anemia which can often occur with cancer chemotherapy, kidney failure, AIDS, and more.

Cyclists in this years Tour de France are suspected of using a newer generation of EPO called CERA, marketed my the pharmaceutical company Roche. Endurance athletes illegally use EPO type substances in order to increase their RBC count and thus improve the oxygen carrying capacity of their blood. Basically, it improves cardiovascular function giving these elite athletes a potential edge on the competition. Roche suggests that CERA might be more effective than other available EPO drugs... the following is a brief description of CERA from the Roche website:

CERA is a Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator. Studies have shown that CERA has unique activity at the receptor site. It is postulated this is related to its repeated and rapid attachment and dissociation from the receptor involved in triggering erythropoiesis (red blood cell formation) together with an extended serum half life. This results in more potent stimulation of erythropoiesis, both in magnitude and duration, compared to standard EPO drugs.

~~~~ BIO 25/26 ~~~

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Smoke 'em if you got 'em... or not

A new report by the American Lung Association describes the current status of tobacco use and policies on college and university campuses in the United States (link to full report). This report has some interesting details... including that 1 in 5 college students smokes cigarettes (or about 19%). Examining the same age group that is NOT in college shows 35% are smokers. The 19% college smokers is the lowest rate in nearly 30 years. Of course, the cigarette industry knows this and is looking to get you on board! Some interesting facts about smoking related to college students:
  • In 2005, the tobacco industry spent more than $1 million per day targeting and marketing cigarettes to college students like you!
  • Cigarette smoking is significantly higher in individuals with lower education levels and lower income levels
  • A recent survey showed that nursing students were more than 4 times as likely to be smokers compared to medical students on the same campus (Ref).
  • In 2005, tobacco companies spent $13.1 billion to market cigarettes. Imagine how much profit they are making in order to spend this much money getting you to buy them!
  • The peak in college smokers seems to have been 1999 with 30% reportedly smoking.
  • Recent declines in college smoking are due partly to the higher prices of cigarettes
  • According to their own documents, tobacco companies market to "occasional smokers" such as college students in order to create new "everyday smokers."
Oh by the way, smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, although I believe obesity is catching up. Plus, smoking makes you smell bad... peeeww. Thank you for smoking ;)

---BIO 25---

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ice Cream, You Scream... the science of ice cream

Nothing is more unsettling and disturbing than finding your precious ice cream has been ruined by ice crystals (aka frost bite, freezer burn)... what will I eat for breakfast now? Scientists to the rescue. It appears that scientists (not working on important issues like cancer, AIDS, heart disease, MRSA) have discovered a natural "antifreeze" that can protect ice cream from ice crystal formation in the freezer. The antifreeze substance is actually a naturally occurring protein molecule called gelatin hydrolysate derived from collagen found in connective tissues... related to what is found in Jell-O brand gelatin and ice cream already. This additive appears to reduce or stop ice crystal formation in stored ice cream... which means your ice cream will last forever. Did I mention it is great for breakfast? Read more about antifreeze in ice cream (Click). Some interesting ice cream facts:
  • Ice cream is a $5 billion annual industry in the United States
  • The average American eats 6 gallons of ice cream a year
  • People in the U.S. eat more ice cream than any other country in the world
  • Those tiny hot-dog shaped chocolate sprinkly things are called... JIMMIES after their inventor James Bartholomew
  • Presdient Ronald Reagan declared the third Sunday of July as National Ice Cream Day

--- BIO 25---