Monday, June 16, 2008

So “pro-life” they’re running out of tiny baby coffins

Ah, Mississippi. You are not an entirely unappealing state. You have a few things going for you, like drawling voices and a leisurely pace in life and some beautiful coastline. One thing you don’t have on your side?

You’re no longer part of the First World.

Mississippi now has the highest infant mortality rate in the nation: 11.4 out of 1000 births, compared to 6.9 per 1000 births nationwide (and the US as a whole is still coming in shamefully high compared to other nations like Norway, Sweden, Japan, etc.). Why does the state that, as Governor Haley Barbour says, is the safest for the unborn in the entire country, the state so ‘pro-life’ they make it next to impossible to get safe, legal abortion, have such a woefully high number of children dying before they see their first birthday?

The answer is damnably, diabolically simple: once the kid draws its first breath, they just don’t care. The proof is in the way they’ve slashed funding for both CHIP and Medicaid, making goddamn sure that their precious money isn’t going toward helping the sluts who can’t afford to take care of their own. You know, the ones they have because you forced them to? Yeah, them.

I think there’s another component to this debate, though - race. Think about it, who’s more likely to be on CHIP and Medicaid rolls but Mississippi’s large population of disadvantaged, disenfranchised people of color? Women who come from more privileged backgrounds can get in a car or on a plane and drive or fly to get an abortion if they need one, but poor women of color cannot, not to mention finding the money for an overnight hotel stay, someone to watch your (thanks to the kindness of MS, possibly hungry) already-born children, time off that job they forced you to take at Walmart because if you didn’t you’d lose what few benefits you have even though it means your kids, without your presence, are slipping farther through society’s cracks, because some patriarchal assholes in the government think you need to have 24 hours to ‘think it over’ after you go into the clinic once, as though this hasn’t consumed your every waking moment…it’s vicious.

Consider this: one of the groups expunged from MS’s CHIP rolls in 2005/2006 were legal resident alien children. Any wonder so many immigrants figure there’s nothing in it for them by playing by the rules? The poor are experts at the advanced calculus of risk/benefit analysis, and don’t you ever doubt it.

You starting to see how this works? It’s a domino effect, and I guarantee you that if we’re smart enough to see this trend, the government is, too. Now, since we know the moral conviction of the reichwing is the thinnest of veneers, the next logical question is really ‘What’s the big picture?’. What are they trying to accomplish? I can promise you that a blackhearted asshole like Rove or Cheney or Dobson or (insert airwaster here) doesn’t give two shits about the baybeeeez at the end of the day. ‘Life’ isn’t what matters to them. Wealth is.

Call me a kook, but what good comes of limiting abortion like this? Of withdrawing health care and assistance from hungry women and children? What could they possibly see as the advantage? What’s in it for them?

They are apparently unconcerned with the ability of the US to prosper in the new global economy, because to do that we have to have a competitive work force of highly educated people on the way, ones who can be the kind of knowledge workers who’ll be in highest demand. If they’re not aiming for that, then what will happen to all these children? The ones so poor they don’t get checkups, maybe get a free immunization or two when they’re required for school, the ones who only know how to take a tedious standardized test instead of thinking in grander, more complex terms because god forbid they be one of those children ‘left behind’*. What will they be good for?

Fueling a massive corporate and evangelical run feudal state, of course. They don’t need thinkers and dreamers - they produce those by homeschooling their precious white children and sending them to Regent University to make sure their thoughts and dreams are of an approved variety. They need workers. Workers who won’t think for themselves or buck the system out of abject fear of starving on the street.

*Ever wonder if it’s a coincidence that the super-fundy Bush cronies called this act No Child ‘LEFT BEHIND’? Since those books have been in the sweaty, fevered grip of every goddamned dominionist loony in the country, I don’t think it is.

Tomatoes and Cancer

Eating tomatoes regularly may reduce the risk of prostate and several other cancers. Published research from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard School of Public Health have shown that eating tomatoes and tomato products may help men reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Researchers carefully examined the full diet of 51,529 participants aged 40-75 years for more than 12 years. Men who consumed two-plus servings of tomato sauce per week had a 23% lower risk of total prostate cancer, and a 36% lower risk of metastatic prostate than participants who consumed less than one serving of tomato sauce per month. The findings appeared in the March 6, 2002 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The benefit of tomatoes in curbing prostate cancer and several other cancers have been reported by several researchers prior to the publication of this study. For example, both the Health Professional Follow-up Study and the Physicians' Health Study from Harvard University had shown that tomato consumption might cut significantly the risk of prostate cancer. Men who ate tomatoes 10 times a week reduced their risk for prostate cancer by almost half. All forms of tomato (raw, in ketchup, spaghetti sauce, tomato paste, soup, and salsa) had beneficial effect; however, tomatoes cooked in oil (such as in tomato sauce) appeared to be the most protective.

Tomatoes are also useful for those who are already diagnosed with the disease. Increased tomato consumption was found to be associated with a much less aggressive prostate cancer in men who were diagnosed with the disease. Tomatoes also reduced the risk for other types of cancers including lung, stomach, pancreatic, breast, cervical, colorectal, oral and esophageal cancers.

We do not know, for sure, how tomatoes ward off cancers. Many scientists believe that lycopenes, bioflavonoids that are closely related to beta carotene, present in tomatoes are natural cancer-fighting agents. Lycopenes give tomatoes its red color. Tomatoes are also rich in several nutrients including potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron, in addition to lycopene. It is also possible that complex interactions among multiple components present in tomatoes contribute to its anticancer properties.

Tomatoes are one of the best sources for lycopine. Lycopine is an anti-oxidant that protects our body cells from oxidants that have been linked to cancer. Laboratory tests have shown that lycopene is twice as powerful as beta-carotene at neutralizing free radicals.

In a review published in the Feb 1999 issue of the Journal of National Cancer Institute, E Giovannucci M.D. (Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA) analyzed and compared the published studies regarding intake of tomatoes and tomato-based products and blood lycopene level in relation to the risk of various cancers. Out of 72 studies identified, 57 reported that tomato intake or blood lycopene level reduced the risk of cancer. 35 of these results were statistically significant.

Omer Kucuk, M.D., an oncologist from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI found that a lycopene supplement containing tomato extract may protect against prostate cancer. In a study presented in the 90th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in 1999, Dr. Kucuk and colleagues followed 30 men with localized prostate cancer who were scheduled to undergo surgical removal of the prostate for three weeks. One group of patients was given an all-natural tomato lycopene supplement (a 15-milligram capsule twice daily), while another group was given dummy pills so researchers could compare results.

Following the surgical removal of their prostates, it was carefully analyzed to determine whether there were any differences between the two groups studied. Well, the results stunned many doctors.

A key marker for prostate cancer (PSA or prostate specific antigen) declined by 15 percent in patients taking the lycopene tomato extract. In the control group not taking lycopene, that marker increased by 15 percent. When surgeons removed the prostate glands, they found that patients taking lycopene had smaller tumors and that those tumors were more often confined to the prostate. (In other words, lycopene prevented the cancer from spreading to the surrounding tissue and organs.)

In analyzing the results, researchers observed that in the lycopene-treated group, 73 percent had organ-confined prostate cancer compared to only 18 percent in the control group. Eighty percent had tumors with a volume less than or equal to 4 cubic centimeters in the lycopene group compared to only 45 percent in the control group. This suggested that the group treated with lycopene had tumors that became less malignant.

This study may indicate that nutritional intervention can protect men against prostate cancer before it poses a threat to their lives, if it is detected early enough. Many scientists, however, pointed out to the small size of the sample involved in the study and advice caution.

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago have conducted a similar study with 32 African American male patients on tomato regimen and seven others in the control, all diagnosed with prostate cancer awaiting surgery.
The test patients were given a daily dish of pasta and tomato sauce that delivered 30 milligrams of lycopene.

After three weeks in the tomato diet, the amount of lycopene in their prostate tissue tripled, their PSA dropped by 17.5 % and DNA damage was decreased in the men's white blood cells. The seven controls who did not eat tomato sauce had a higher oxidative damage in their prostates. Unlike Dr. Kucuk's trial, there was no reduction in the tumors.

The residents from southern Mediterranean countries, including Italy and Greece, have a low incidence of prostate cancer. Coincidentally, in these countries, the tomato consumption is high, another proof for the effectiveness of tomato in combating prostate cancer.

I recommend that you incorporate generous amounts of tomato in your diet. It is nutritious; it tastes good and it is good for you. You can also eat other fruits and vegetables high in lycopene such as pink grapefruit, guavas, and papayas. Lower the amount of fatty foods in your diet. A high-fat diet has been linked to a higher risk of contracting cancer. Exercise regularly. Studies have suggested that people who exercise regularly are at lower risk for cancer.