Friday, December 30, 2022


At the end of each year, and tomorrow is the last day of year 2022, I do an inventory of where I was on New Year’s Day of 2022 and where I am today. Not in terms of location. Rather, an inventory of what I am proud of having accomplished during the year; what I aim to accomplish in the New Year; what lessons I have learned and what required course-correction; what red flags I missed; how I have improved my Emotion Intelligence (EQ) skills; if I have told the brains I care deeply for how much I love and appreciate them; if there is anything left for which I yet need to forgive myself or others; and if there is anything unhealthy—mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, or relationally that I need to let go of. This inventory includes my close friendships—or what I thought they were. Time always reveals what you truly mean to other individuals and whether they make time to connect with you—no excuses, no broken promises—and if I make time to always respond to them. Typically, I select one thing that becomes my New Year’s resolution. This yearly inventory has been very helpful to me. You might find it helpful in your life, too. .

 A new AUDIO podcast is posted every Saturday morning

 A new VIDEO podcast is posted every Saturday morning 

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Holiday Anxiety


Why do people get so anxious and depressed around the holidays when it’s supposed to be a time for family, good friends, and fun?

Holidays are meant to be a time for family, close friends, and fun. A break in routine routines. Enter expectations: your own as well as those of others. Those who live on social media and compare themselves to what others say they are doing, can end up in a world of hurt. They may be prompted to engage in activities they never expected, spend more money than planned, give too many presents, have too many parties, and agonize over too many fancy decorations and huge spreads of food. Anxiety is part of the emotion of fear—perhaps from feeling not being good enough. Depression is part of the emotion of sadness—perhaps from a sense of failing to meet expectations. Slow down. Relax with your family and close friends. Breathe. Negotiate using reality checks. Choose to stop competing, overspending, and overeating. Have fun! Be refreshed.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Brain Fog

I deal with brain fog a lot. I don’t know if that’s from me not sleeping well, or something supplemental I’m not doing right or if I’m getting old. What is it?

We are all getting older. That’s a given. Brain fog is not synonymous with aging, however. It a label for symptoms that fall along a spectrum including brain fatigue, difficulty focusing, forgetfulness, making simple mistakes, feeling exhausted but you can’t sleep, sluggishness, or difficulty getting motivated. As you know, brain fog has been linked with dozens of chronic medical, immune, and inflammatory diseases, mental challenges such as PTSD and adult ADHD, infections like AIDS and COVID-19, chemotherapy, dementia, and many more. If none of these apply, then as a brain function specialist I think of lifestyle factors. Sleep deprivation when the brain cannot get waste emptied and repair jobs finished. Dehydration that pulls brain tissue away from the skull. Unmanaged stress that releases adrenalin and cortisol. Nutritional deficiencies from high sugar intake or foods to which you are allergic, sensitive, or intolerant. I know you can figure it out.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2022

"Spotify Wrapped"

My sincere “thank you” for liking and watching my Taylor Brain Bytes video podcasts on Spotify. I received permission to turn my audio podcasts into video podcasts in April of 2022 and you made possible the content of the  “Spotify Wrapped” video that I received recently. It is a fun presentation! Yes, the URL below is quite large and I cannot figure out any way to make it smaller. However, if you cut and paste it, I believe you will have fun seeing what you helped to create by watching and liking Taylor Brain Bytes. It takes a few seconds to load so be patient and enjoy! 

Monday, December 26, 2022

Make Boxing Day any Day

It’s Boxing Day and in my abode, the boxes are gone—I’m in a new mode. Rather than celebrating boxing day on December 26th (it used to be a big deal during my childhood in Canada), I decided last year to vary that tradition by sharing with others ahead of time. Although I enjoy using my “things,” since the 2014 earthquake—when fully half of my dishes ended up smashed on the kitchen tile floor—I’m more aware than ever that “things” are just “things.” What I value most by far are connections with the brains and hearts of others. On my death bed I doubt I will be thinking about any “thing” I have owned, rather about the brains and hearts I have loved over a lifetime. You might want to make a list of treasured individuals and take this opportunity to tell them how grateful you are that they are in your life and how much you love them. Do it on Boxing Day or choose a Gratitude Day at another time of year. Just do it. Life is uncertain and someday you may be very glad you did.

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Friday, December 23, 2022

Gaslighting Recovery

If anyone calls you crazy, lashes out if you disagree in any way, gets mad if you ask questions, bucks your attempts to enforce healthy personal boundaries, blames you for everything he or she dislikes, or makes comments designed to prompt you to question yourself—recognize such behaviors as bright red flags. No matter how much you think you love the individual, pay attention to your intuition and to what you know is right. If you feel unsafe in any way, call a hotline immediately. You may need to distance yourself from the gaslighter immediately. Take care of yourself mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually—the spirit with which you live life. Review your personal boundaries and reset them as needed. Make decisions thoughtfully. See a counselor to help you with anxiety, depression, or PTSD. You can recover from the effects of gaslighting and become wiser in the process, which can help you avoid being gaslighted in the future.

 A new AUDIO podcast is posted every Saturday morning

 A new VIDEO podcast is posted every Saturday morning

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Who Gaslights

Gaslighting can occur when there are unequal levels of power as in parent and child; or religious, workplace, or political leaders; with domestic or romantic partners, and with so-called close friends. Those with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder and/or Antisocial Personality Disorder (sociopathy) tend to gas light, leaving you feeling disoriented, confused, and self-doubting. Gaslighters are blamers. It is never their fault and always yours. "You are too sensitive. You always do this. That never happened. You’re losing your memory. Are you crazy? I would never have done that!” Gaslighters are 100% responsible for their behaviors. Pay attention to those around you. Listen carefully. People often tell you who they are if you are paying attention. Compare what they say with how they behave. Be very cautious when their words and actions do not match, or when they ask you for money, or to be included on the deed to your house, or take complete control of if, when, and how they communicate with you. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022


A friend of mine believes I am experiencing gaslighting. I don’t know what that means! Is it a brain thing?

 Actually, gaslighting is a “brain thing,” because everything begins in the brain. Gaslighting may be recognized by typically-related behaviors. It is psychological and emotional abuse with one goal in mind. One brain—the gaslighter’s—has an agenda and wants to gain power over our brain, typically to obtain something they want. The gaslighter may tell you too-good-to-be-true stories, love-bomb you, say how much you are loved and then ghost you for days, weeks, or months at a time; contradict what you think happened, ignore or break promises, stage bizarre events, play dangerous mind games, or lie—anything to trick you into doubting yourself and feeling insecure or confused. It can escalate into verbal or physical violence. More tomorrow.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Caffeine & Sprinting


A study in Japan, led by Professor Takeshi Hashimoto from Ritsumeikan University and published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise journal, reported interesting findings. Previous studies related to caffeine and running had failed to show conclusive enough results to support the World Athletics consensus. A majority of the studies had looked at caffeine’s effects on single sprint runs of less than 60 meters. Hashimoto and his team decided to study the ergogenic effects of caffeine on the 100-meter sprint performance. They found that caffeine supplementation provided more explosive acceleration to the sprinters in the early stage of the race. 100-meter sprint time was decreased by 0.14 seconds in the first 60 meters of the race, but no significant difference was observed for the last 40 meters. Hashimoto now would like to study what happens with other athletic sports such as jumping.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Improving Sleep

What can I do to improve my sleep?

Each brain is believed to need a specific amount of sleep during a 24-hour period. Studies have discovered many tips for how to get a better sleep. Although sleep is independently linked with longevity, in today’s world, many are not excited about following the tips. Here are a few examples (and more are listed on the Sleep Foundation website):

    -  Have a regular sleep time, starting preferably 1-2 hours before midnight as sleep before midnight has been found to be more restorative

·      - Go to bed the same time on weekends as during the week

·   -- Avoid the use of electronics for 1 hour prior to bedtime unless you are using blue-light protective glasses

·   - Avoid exciting movies or video games just before going to bed to reduce brain stimulation and/or the production of adrenalin

·      - Sleep in a cool room that is as dark as possible

·       - Keep all electronics out of the bedroom unless you are on call

·       - Eat dinner by six pm so food is out of your stomach by bedtime.

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Caffeine & Athletics

I just heard that caffeine may be approved for use in athletic activities. Do you know anything about that?

Caffeine is a stimulant that impacts the brain (central nervous system) to stimulate the release of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, which increases alertness and attention. It can be found in a variety of plants, including cocoa, with the best-known source being the coffee bean. Caffeine is said to be the most widely consumed psychoactive drug on Planet Earth, being seen as socially acceptable in most cultures. Caffeine can cause a mild drug dependency that, when discontinued, is associated with several withdrawal symptoms—including sleepiness, headache, and irritability. The severity of these symptoms may relate to the regular amount of caffeine that an individual has used on a daily basis. Reportedly, pure powdered caffeine that is touted as a dietary supplement can be lethal in tablespoon-sized amounts. For at least the last decade, there have been anecdotal reports about caffeine, in moderate doses of about 5 mg per kg of body weight, being able to improve results in some types of athletic endeavors. You may have seen a news item about research in this area. More tomorrow.

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Friday, December 16, 2022

Diagnostic Differences

Unfortunately, one single test to diagnose ADHD does not yet exist, at least I do not know of one. The symptoms of hyperactivity that males with ADHD exhibit tend to be more bothersome and disruptive to parents and teachers. Hence, males tend to be referred for testing at a younger age and receive a diagnosis earlier than do females. Females tend to present with less overt symptoms. They may be inattentive but display it less prominently, so adults may miss the condition. Inattention symptoms in females with ADHD are more likely to occur in structured educational environments, such as high school and college, which may delay the diagnosis. Females may also develop better coping strategies to compensate for their ADHD-related difficulties. Female inattention may also be exhibited as anxiety and/or depression. Combined, this means that females are more likely to be diagnosed with a personality or other internalizing disorder, further delaying diagnosis and treatment of the underlying issue of ADHD. 

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Age of ADHD Onset

Studies reported that boys may exhibit elevated symptoms of ADHD from childhood, easily meeting the criteria for age of onset. Parents may overrate symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness in boys, taking them in for diagnosis much earlier. On the other hand, parents may underestimate the severity and impairment of hyperactivity and impulsiveness in girls or attribute the symptoms to something else such as hormonal problems, anxiety, or depression and may not take them to the doctor for ADHD testing.  Females are more likely to show increases in symptoms in early adolescence. Therefore, if the females are taken to the doctor, clinicians may exclude girls from an ADHD diagnosis because the age of onset criteria works for boys but can occur several years later for girls. The good news is that an increased awareness of male-female differences in onset and exhibition of symptoms, can help in providing earlier diagnosis and treatment for females.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2022

M-F & ADHD Differences

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, better known as ADHD, is  a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by atypical levels of three symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. In terms of male-female differences, studies have shown that females are more likely to be more severely inattentive. Males are more likely to have combined symptoms with higher rates of impulsivity and hyperactivity. In a nutshell, males tend to exhibit externalizing disorders, such as: substance misuse, conduct disorders, and antisocial personality disorders. Females are more likely to exhibit internalizing disorders, such as: anxiety, depression, somatic symptom disorders, and bulimia. In addition, hormones can worsen ADHD symptoms in females, and the changes in symptoms, perhaps functioning as a ‘red herring,’ may delay diagnosis. 

Monday, December 12, 2022

ADHD & Gender Differences

Her high school teacher just suggested I take my daughter to the doctor to be evaluated for ADHD, since symptoms are different for males and females. Is that really true?

 Studies by the National Institutes of Health reported that in general, symptoms of Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD for short, are not sex-specific, meaning symptoms in males and in females are more alike than they are different. Nevertheless, there are definite differences that can be missed if parents and teachers are unaware of them. Males are much more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD—three times more common, actually—than are females. Therein lies some very interesting nuances. It appears that referral bias is a problem. Males are much more likely to be referred for ADHD testing than are girls. Consequently, more males are likely to be diagnosed. Parents are more likely to take their son(s) to a physician for evaluation than they are to take their daughter(s). Again, this makes it more likely that more males will be diagnosed. A referral bias means that females with ADHD are less likely to receive treatment than males with ADHD. Treatments are said to be equally effective in males and females. However, until referral bias is addressed, and equal numbers of males and females are enrolled in similar treatment styles, this conclusion may remain unverifiable.  

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Friday, December 9, 2022

Mindset & Passage of Time

A mindset is a mental attitude or inclination. Yes, each year represents a smaller fraction of your total life experience. However, if your mindset is that you are going downhill every day and just marking time as life rushes toward a conclusion, you are more likely to chunk everything rather that savor each moment. A consistently thankful mindset, regularly seeking out new experiences, and taking time to pay interested attention in each moment, can improve quality of life. Continuing to set goals of things you wish to accomplish. This gives the brain something fun and rewarding to look forward to. It can also help you perceive each day as a separate collection of interesting experiences rather than just one more blur as you hurtle into older age. Staying connected with good friends and being curious about the experiences you have in life can improve working memory. So can volunteering and doing random acts of kindness. Make your life an interesting series of daily events in which you always learn something new and meaningful.

 A new AUDIO podcast is posted every Saturday morning

 A new VIDEO podcast is posted every Saturday morning 

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Technology & Passage of Time

Technology has changed the way the world turns. With smart, android, and iPhones; along with iPads, laptops, and TV; plus, batteries, solar, and wind turbines; technology has impacted perception of time. When technology is working as intended, you can accomplish more and in a shorter period of time. That has also accelerated a perception of the passage of time. Bring this to a holiday season, when adults, who already may feel there isn’t enough time to do everything, have increased demands on their time. There is planning ahead, shopping, wrapping gifts, preparing food and trying to freeze at least some of it in advance, to say nothing of decorating and knowing what will have to be dismantled and either disposed of or stored until next year. No wonder time rushes ahead for adults and drags abysmally for children. Slow down and think through expectations. Guess what? Although traditions can be enjoyable, everything does not have to happen every year in exactly the same way. Try doing one or two things differently. The brain loves variety. Open gifts on a holiday morning or after dinner or the evening before. As children grow up, try a three-day mini vacation, building life-time memories of being with people you love and who love you in return. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Anticipation & Passage of Time

Children around the world—at least in developed countries—may count Father X-mas and the reindeer (or Hanukkah) as the most anticipated part of the year. Naturally they pay attention to how long they must wait until the desired holiday arrives. The more their brains  focus on time passing, the more it seems to creep along. Do you remember looking at the clock and asking, “When do we leave on vacation?” or “When will Grami and Gramps arrive?” If the answer was something like “in the next hour or two” and you tried to stay glued to the clock, an hour or two could feel like forever. When I was growing up in Canada, there was no mention of X-mas until after Thanksgiving at the end of November. Now, as early as October, X-mas goodies are being advertised. Seeing all the X-mas paraphernalia for two to three months before the day arrives increases the sense that X-mas is just around the corner for adults, and months away for children. 

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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Memories & Passage of Time

According to Neuroscience News, humans tend to estimate duration, how long something lasted, on how many memories they made during their assessment of the duration period. Think back to your childhood. You may recall some years when a lot of interesting things happened, and you made many new memories—which tends to make you think that a lot of time passed. Conversely, there may be periods of time that seemed very monotonous, when nothing much new or exciting happened and those times seem to coalesce into a blur. As you age and perhaps experience fewer “new things” about which to make memories, that can also make it seem a much shorter time from the last holiday season to this one. During the COVID-19 pandemic when everything was in flux and unpredictable, people around the globe reported that “the passage of time did not seem normal” at all.

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Monday, December 5, 2022

Age & Passage of Time

When I was age seven, I thought Xmas would never come! At age seventy-seven I can hardly believe it is already here AGAIN! Does time speed up as we age?

According to scientists, time does not change (except for standard versus daylight savings time—and personally I wish it were one or the other!). Mathematically my father used to tell my brother and me that at age six, a year is one sixth of your whole life, a very long time in terms of a child’s total experience. When you are age sixty, a year is one sixtieth of your whole life. There is a huge difference in ratio between one sixth and one sixtieth. Because of that it is almost as if the relative time of one year becomes compressed as you age. Studies indicate that the brain’s perception of time does change as individuals get older. As you age, your perception of time alters in other ways as well.

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Friday, December 2, 2022

Time to Smile!

Here are a few humorous sayings to trigger a smile on a day that needs to be filled with smiles—which is every day!

 1.     I find it ironic that the colors red, white, and blue stand for freedom, until they're flashing behind you.

2.     Today a man knocked on my door and asked for a small donation towards the local community swimming pool, so I gave him a glass of water.

3.     If I had a dollar for every girl that found me unattractive, they'd eventually find me attractive.

4.     I changed my password to ‘incorrect’ so whenever I forget it the computer will say, "Your password is incorrect."

5.     Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity. Artificial intelligence is often fixable; stupidity is not.

6.     I'm great at multi-tasking; I can waste time, be unproductive, and procrastinate all at once.

 A new AUDIO podcast is posted every Saturday morning

 A new VIDEO podcast is posted every Saturday morning

Thursday, December 1, 2022

The HPA & Stress

During this process of preparing to fight or flee, the HPA works very hard to maintain an appropriate balance of stress hormones and other brain/chemicals as it orchestrates fighting or fleeing. The Fight-Flight response is designed to be used as needed but not to be sustained over time. Studies have shown that when alcohol is added to this mix, the body is put at even greater risk for harm, because not only is alcohol toxic to the brain, it triggers the release of even higher amounts of cortisol. This alters the brain’s chemistry and ‘resets’ what the body considers ‘normal.’ Unfortunately, alcohol also prevents the body from returning to its initial balance point, so it must set a new point of physiological functioning known as allostasis. The setting of a new balance point puts wear and tear on the body and increases the risk of serious disease.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Stress Response and HPA

Can you help me understand the link between the typical Fight-Flight Stress response and something my doctor called the HPA—I feel bad because I didn’t quite understand it .

 Avoid feeling bad! The Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, also known as the HPA, is very complex. The biology dictionary describes it as a complex feedback system of neurohormones that are sent between the hypothalamus, the pituitary, and the adrenal glands. This triad axis regulates the physiological mechanisms of stress reactions (and incidentally also impacts the immune system and fertility). When the brain-body experiences stress and the HPA is activated, it’s job is to prepare the body to engage in the fight-flight response. The HPA releases cortisol, that increases the level of glucose in the blood, raises blood pressure, and sends more blood to muscles. Cortisol also puts some body functions “on hold” because they would be unhelpful in responding to the stress.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

The Cortisol-Alcohol Link

The theory has been that alcohol may affect brain chemicals that signal the adrenal glands to produce more cortisol. To study this, researchers at the Veterans Affairs North Texas Health Care System in Dallas recorded the breath alcohol concentrations and cortisol levels in three groups of patients: a group of alcohol-dependent patients who were abstinent and participating in a residential treatment program, a group who were intoxicated and in the treatment program, and a group who were going through withdrawal. The study found:

·       Both the intoxicated group and the withdrawal group had increased cortisol levels compared to the abstinent group

·       Cortisol concentrations actually increased during the progression from intoxication to withdrawal

·       Alcohol consumption increases the body's production of cortisol, not only while the person is intoxicated, but also when the drinker is withdrawing from the effects of intoxication; cortisol does remains elevated throughout the drinking cycle

·       A high level of intoxication can cause a state of general stress—as alcohol is viewed as a toxin by the brain—which can stimulate cortisol release. 

Monday, November 28, 2022

How are you for belly fat?

Cortisol is the stress hormone released when your brain recognizes a ‘stressor.’ Designed for short-term emergencies cortisol is made in your adrenal glands and increases blood pressure, impacts immune function, and raises blood sugar to give you fast energy. That’s the good news. Cortisol levels that stay high for too long are linked with increased risks for diabetes, high blood pressure, brain memory issues, insomnia, and increased belly fat, to name a few. Belly fat cells reportedly have four times as many receptors for cortisol compared to fat cells at other locations in your body. Researchers at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, California, studied the effects of a mindfulness program for stress eating on Cortisol Awakening Response or CAR and abdominal fat. Study results showed that Improvements in mindfulness, chronic stress, and CAR were associated with reductions in abdominal fat.

 A new AUDIO podcast is posted every Saturday morning

 A new VIDEO podcast is posted every Saturday morning 

Friday, November 25, 2022

Good News about Nicotine

The good news is that anyone can choose to not smoke and anyone can kick the habit if they want to bad enough. Nicotine is nicotine—however it is delivered. Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of sickness and mortality, responsible for over 400,000 deaths in the United States each year. The worst health consequences associated with smoking (e.g., cancer and heart disease) are linked to the inhalation of tar and other chemicals produced by tobacco combustion; the pleasurable, reinforcing, and addictive properties of smoking are produced mostly by the nicotine contained in tobacco. [Using PET Scans, researchers at the University of Michigan (in the first human study) showed that (like heroin and morphine) smoking cigarettes stimulates the brain's production of dopamine and chemicals known as opioids. Smoking cigarettes triggers the release of addictive feel-good brain chemicals, notably dopamine and opioids. It appears that smokers have an altered opioid flow all the time, when compared with non-smokers.] According to WebMD, e-cigarettes are already a booming, billion-dollar industry, on track to outsell tobacco products within a decade. If you don’t smoke, never start. If you do smoke, get help to quit—for your life and health and the life and health of those whom you love.

A new AUDIO podcast is posted every Saturday morning

 A new VIDEO podcast is posted every Saturday morning 

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving in the USA

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the quality of being grateful—and to practice it! Neurobiologically, gratitude is right up there with awe and wonder. The benefits are myriad. Doctors have pointed out that when you pause to appreciate and show caring and compassion, the more order and coherence you experience internally. When your heart is in an ‘internal coherence state,’ studies suggest that you enjoy the capacity to be peaceful and calm yet retain the ability to respond appropriately to stressful circumstances. I choose to practice gratitude on a daily basis. What makes Thanksgiving Day more unique than any other day? On this day I pause to be specifically grateful for those individuals who love me enough to give me quality time throughout the year by phone, text, email, snail mail—and sometimes in person (how deliciously rewarding). I refer to them as my ‘family-of-choice’ because a gift of time is a personal choice. It is the only thing your brain can give another brain that no one else can. For their quality time I am truly grateful. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, my wish for you today is that you both give and receive the gift of ‘quality time.’

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

E-cigarettes and Increased risks

The National Institutes of Health funded a study to evaluate whether exposure to E-cigarettes increased one’s risk for initiation to smoking regular tobacco cigarettes. Recently, Dr. Nora Volkow, NIDA Director, released the results of the study. Researchers found that teenagers who use E-cigarettes are more likely to start smoking tobacco. Teenagers who smoke E-cigarettes are reportedly at three times higher risk for smoking regular cigarettes within about a year—when compared with teenagers who do not use E-Cigs. Another study revealed that the students who have used e-cigarettes by the time they start 9th grade are more likely than others to start smoking traditional cigarettes and other smokable tobacco products within the next year. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

E-cigarette Down Sides

Although they do not produce tobacco smoke, e-cigarettes still contain nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug. Recent research suggests that nicotine exposure may also prime the brain to become addicted to other substances. Testing of some e-cigarette products found that the vapor contained known carcinogens and toxic chemicals (such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde), as well as potentially toxic metal nanoparticles from the vaporizing mechanism. The health consequences of repeated exposure to these chemicals are not yet clear. Another worry is the refillable cartridges used by some e-cigarettes may expose themselves to potentially toxic levels of nicotine when refilling them. Cartridges could also be filled with substances other than nicotine, thus possibly serving as a new and potentially dangerous way to deliver other drugs.

Monday, November 21, 2022

E-cigs and the Brain

Not long ago a young man told me proudly that he had quit smoking cigarettes. I was on the point of commending his choice when he said, “E-cigarettes are much better!” Really? Think again. I referred him to the NIDA, the National Institute on Drug Abuse fact sheet. Also known as ENDS (Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems)e-cigs typically consist of a power source, which is usually a battery; some type of vaporizer or heating device; and a liquid that contains nicotine along with flavorings such as candy, fruit, mint, and coffee, and other chemicals. In many e-cigarettes, puffing activates the battery-powered heating device, which vaporizes the liquid in the cartridge. The resulting aerosol or vapor is then inhaled (called ‘vaping’).Because they deliver nicotine without burning tobacco leaves, many tout them as a safer and less toxic alternative to traditional cigarettes. Very little is actually known about the long-term health risks of using these e-cigarette devices. Even in States that have banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, teens have been obtaining them by simply ordering the devices online. Particles breathed into the lung from the tobacco and other chemicals take up space that would have been used by oxygen-filled air, which means the brain is frequently partly anoxic: not getting enough oxygen to adequately fuel processes in the brain.

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Friday, November 18, 2022

WHO Key Facts in 2022

This is what the World Health Organization has to say:

- Tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year. 

- More than 7 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.

- Over 80% of the world's 1.3 billion tobacco users live in low- and middle-income countries.

- In 2020, 22.3% of the global population used tobacco, 36.7% of all men and 7.8% of the world’s women.

To address the tobacco epidemic, WHO Member States adopted the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in 2003. Currently 182 countries have ratified this treaty. Measures in line with the WHO FCTC are in place in some areas. They have been shown to reduce costs from averted healthcare expenditures and to save lives.


Thursday, November 17, 2022

Tobacco Epidemic

The other day I was chatting with a dear little first-grader. A person walked by on the sidewalk and blew out a cloud of cigarette smoke. The breeze carried it toward us. She vigorously fanned her little hands, trying to push it away. “I hate the smell,” she continued. “My daddy and my grandpappy both smoke. It gives me a headache. Why do people still smoke?” Good question. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced. All forms of tobacco are harmful, and there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco. Cigarette smoking is the most common form of tobacco use worldwide, killing more than 8 million people a year, including around 1.2 million deaths from exposure to second-hand smoke. Therein lies a big problem. It is one thing to choose to smoke yourself. It is another to expose loved ones and friends to your side smoke, which increases their risk of disease and death, especially for babies and children in one’s home who have no way of escape, as well as other family members.


Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Ancestry Bottom Line

IIf it were possible to go back far enough, we just might discover that most of us (if not all of us) are related to most of us (if not all of us) in some way or another. Interesting concept. Since our brains and hearts are all the same color, all the nonsense about ‘better than’ or ‘less than’ is just that: nonsense. No doubt DNA research will continue to advance and we will learn more about who we are related to. For me it, is exciting because each person brings something unique to the great table that is Planet Earth. I am happy to be at that table. As a child growing up in Canada, part of the Commonwealth, diversity was present in many different ways from how Thanksgiving and X-mas were celebrated to preferred foods and you name it. We enjoyed telling each other about our “roots” and learning about “their roots.” DNA research has added another dimension to this.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2022

My Paternal Line

As with everyone else, I also have a paternal line. My patrilineal ancestry reportedly goes back to an African male known as ‘’’Y-Chromosomal Adam.’ Two initial descendants from this male were the Haplogroup A and the Haplogroup BR. Reportedly both of these groups are found today in Sub-Saharan Africa in select populations. There were, of course, migrations out of Africa and a variety of other mutations occurred that split into Haplogroup F, Haplogroup P, and eventually Haplogroup R (distinguishable by its M207 mutation). Haplogroup F descendants appear to have taken the admonition to ‘be fruitful and multiply’ quite literally. Tibet, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Japan, Polynesia, and Indigenous Australians are said to have the only populations out of Africa that are not descendants of this prolific Haplogroup F. A M9 mutation from Haplogroup F resulted in Haplogroup K, which had a M4-5 mutation into Haplogroup P that in turn had a M207 mutation that started the Haplogroup R line. My paternal line appears to be aligned with a section of this group known as Haplogroup R1b, reportedly related to a man in Iberia (modern day Spain) now known as ‘the Patriarch,’ who carried the genetic marker that designates the Haplogroup R1b. 

Monday, November 14, 2022

Maternal Line Ancestors

Haplogroup N had additional mutations and branchings. A woman classified as ‘Helena’ (meaning light in Greek) reportedly marked the beginning of my mitochondrial branch or type: Haplogroup H. One of the most famous of my Haplogroup H ancestors (that can be traced back to Bertha Von Putelendorf who died 1190) is reported to be the French queen Marie Antoinette—who, unfortunately, ‘lost her head.’ Because that family was quite prolific, some others in Haplogroup H include Marie-Louise of Austria (Napoleon’s wife), the Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna (wife of the last Russian tsar Nicolas II), and Britain’s Queen Victoria. Hmmm.


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Friday, November 11, 2022

My Maternal Line

I decided to bite the bullet and send in some of my white blood cells to see what I might learn about my biological history—and to be analyzed for mitochondrial DNA. Unlike chromosomal DNA that is inherited from both parents, you get all your mitochondrial DNA from your mother. Mutations accumulate in mitochondrial DNA more quickly than in chromosomal DNA, so it's possible to trace your maternal ancestry way back beyond any relatives you may know by name—simply by tracking the inheritance of mutations in mitochondrial DNA. In due time the results came back. The markers that DNA Solutions identified show I belong to Haplogroup H, the most common Haplogroup in Europe, occurring in 40-60% of the population. My common female ancestor supposedly is a woman known as Mitochondrial Eve. Four initial groups of descendants known as Haplogroups Lo-L3 are related to Mitochondrial Eve. Group Lo apparently is now extinct, but Group L-3 divided into two subtypes: M and N. A DNA marker at position 10875T of my mitochondrial DNA, shows that I am a descendent of Haplogroup N. 

Thursday, November 10, 2022

DNA Misspellings

A mutation is a change in the spelling of a typical DNA sequence (think of your body as having a spell-check for DNA sequences and that for some reason or other spellcheck fails). A misspelling slips through, if you will. Your DNA contains mutations that typically are quite harmless. Some, however, are harmful and may be responsible for triggering abnormal conditions and specific diseases. For example, sickle cell anemia can be caused by a change in one single gene! Although 99% of your DNA is located in your chromosomes, the remaining 1% of your DNA is located in the mitochondria. The mitochondria in human cells are the energy factories that produce the energy-rich molecule known as ATP or adenosine triphosphate. Scientists are linking mitochondrial DNA defects with a wide range of age-related diseases including neurodegenerative disorders, some forms of heart disease, diabetes, and various cancers. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

A 64-letter Alphabet

According to Dr. John Stamatoyannopoulos, University of Washington, associate professor of genome sciences and of medicine, for over forty years it has been assumed that DNA changes affecting the genetic code solely impacted how proteins were made—now it appears that this basic assumption about reading the human genome missed half of the picture. New findings highlight that DNA is an incredibly powerful information storage device, which nature has fully exploited in unexpected ways. For example, DNA consists of a 64-letter (codon) alphabet that spells out the genetic code. The letters (codons) are organized into words and sentences called genes. About 15% of the 64-letter (codon) alphabet are dual-use letters known as duons. They simultaneously specify both amino acids and something called transcription factor (TF) sequences. This means that many DNA changes that appear to alter protein sequences may actually cause disease by disrupting gene control programs or even both mechanisms simultaneously. What happens to trigger mutations?


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