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share save 120 16 The Obesity Paradox: Weigh More and Live Longer

Weighing in The Obesity Paradox: Weigh More and Live Longer

The health blogosphere is awash with the new study that says overweight people may indeed live longer.

But, wait.

The counterintuitive findings that people who are overweight live longer, published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, couldn’t have been more perfectly timed, coming as it has right when people are resolving to be healthier — which involves, for many, losing weight.

In many places where this story has been picked up, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Time, the implication seems to be that the push to get people down to a “healthy” weight has been overblown.

But that being overweight is associated with increased lifespan isn’t new. It’s called the “obesity paradox,” and studies documenting it have lead to widespread speculation about the potential “protective benefits” of excess body fat.

For some health advocates, the implication is downright offensive. Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health, for example, lost his cool this morning on NPR, declaring, “This study is really a pile of rubbish and no one should waste their time reading it.”

But the study’s author, Katherine Flegal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mounted a solid defense: “It’s statistically significant.” Those three words carry weight — if an association has been found to be significant, it tells us that if nothing else, we need to acknowledge that the results are in some way legitimate and warrant our attention.

The findings are without doubt interesting, which on its own makes the study worth reading. The problem is that despite the grandness of the meta-analysis — it takes into account over 3 million people! — it still has an extremely limited scope. It looks at BMI, and only BMI, in relation to death, regardless of cause. It’s impossible to report on its baseline conclusion without taking into account substantial caveats.

Just remember your weight is only one metric to your overall health.

It is very important, and do not think you can slack because of this study. But, do keep the context in mind.

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share save 120 16 American Smoking Sinks to One in Five   Tied for All Time Low

Gallup Poll Smoking American Smoking Sinks to One in Five   Tied for All Time LowAccording to the latest Gallup poll.

The prevalence of smoking in the U.S. is currently tied for the all-time low in Gallup trends dating from 1944, after a long, slow decline in smoking rates since the 1970s. Currently, 20% of adults say they smoked a cigarette “in the past week,” down from 22% last year but matching the 2009 level.

Gallup recorded the sharpest decline in smoking between the early 1970s and late 1980s, with the rate dropping roughly 15 percentage points during this period. Smoking leveled off at about 25% for much of the 1990s, but has since descended slowly, if unevenly, to 20%. The latest results are from Gallup’s annual Consumption Habits poll, conducted July 9-12, and are in line with the smoking rate the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index finds in daily surveys of Americans.

According to an analysis of Gallup trends since 2001 — combining data from Gallup’s Consumption Habits polls into three periods, 2001-2005, 2006-2010, and 2011-2012 — the most recent decline in smoking has not occurred across the board, but is seen mainly among certain groups. Smoking rates have fallen particularly sharply among young adults — those 18 to 29 — as well as among college non-graduates and those living in the East and West.

Great news as I am reminded what my parents told me over fifty years ago.

Smoking is a dirty, nasty habit – don’t ever start because it will be hard to quit.

Face it smoking is “unhealthy” and “addictive” behavior.

In the next decades, let’s hope the numbers of Americans who smoke drop even further.

share save 120 16 American Smoking Sinks to One in Five   Tied for All Time Low

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share save 120 16 Update: Methamphetamine Lab Cleanup is Big Environmental Business

methamphetamine laboratory Update: Methamphetamine Lab Cleanup is Big Environmental Business

Methamphetamine Lab

Good for the businesses, but I would really like to put them into another line of work.

Methamphetamine labs are more than just dangerous and illegal. They leave a mess  an environmental hazard that, according to Indiana law, must be cleaned up.

And it takes a special process, certification and inspectors who scour the property in full-gear Hazmat suits and respirators to do the dirty work.

Welcome to the world of meth lab cleanup companies, a growing and profitable business.

Indiana, which ranks in the top five for meth production, has 22 companies certified by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to decontaminate properties.

And business is, um, booming.

“It’s such a growing epidemic,” said Donetta Held, CEO of Crisis Cleaning, a Bloomfield, Ind., company. “It’s everywhere — from a high-dollar house in downtown Indianapolis to these rural counties.”

Held’s company has already done 25 meth cleanups this year, in less than three months. That’s already half as many as the company completed last year.

“Some people say there is not as much meth or meth has gone down,” Held said. “Um, no. I don’t see that at all.”

Neither do police, which have seen a steady growth in meth lab seizures in the past three years. In 2009, law enforcement shut down 1,364 labs. In 2010, 1,395 labs were seized. Last year, that number climbed to 1,437.

That has meant lots of revenue for meth cleanup companies. Most companies charge about $2 to $3 per square foot to do a cleanup. Depending on the size of the property and how many rooms need to be decontaminated, the cost can range from $5,000 to $10,000.

And, now, who is saying that the states should not require a prescription for pseudoephedrine?

Well, it is the drug company that makes allergy and cold pills that contain the meth precursor chemicals. They are afraid of reduced sales.

Most of these labs would go away with NO precursor chemicals with which to make methamphetamine. So, why the delay?

A solution is easy – limit the precursor chemicals and secure the Mexican border from the drug cartels.

Update:

Here is a post from The Economist about the Global Methamphetamine business.

STORMING a ranch south of the city of Guadalajara, Mexican soldiers last month made one of the biggest drug busts in history. They found 15 tonnes of the banned stimulant methamphetamine, which in America retails for more than $100 per gram, seven tonnes of chemicals used to make it, and a laboratory. The manufacturers had fled.

This was the latest sign that meth, once primarily a home-cooked drug, has become a mass-produced one. Unlike cocaine and heroin, imported from the limited regions where coca and poppy are cultivated, meth can be made anywhere. In most countries the ingredients, principally ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, can be bought as medicine for colds. Cooking them is dangerous. But meth is so addictive that the risk of blowing off your hands is little deterrent: in 2010 the authorities discovered 6,768 makeshift labs in America.

Read it all.

share save 120 16 Update: Methamphetamine Lab Cleanup is Big Environmental Business

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share save 120 16 Methamphetamine Lab Cleanup is Big Environmental Business
methamphetamine laboratory Methamphetamine Lab Cleanup is Big Environmental Business

Methamphetamine Lab

Good for the businesses, but I would really like to put them into another line of work.

Methamphetamine labs are more than just dangerous and illegal. They leave a mess — an environmental hazard that, according to Indiana law, must be cleaned up.

And it takes a special process, certification and inspectors who scour the property in full-gear Hazmat suits and respirators to do the dirty work.

Welcome to the world of meth lab cleanup companies, a growing and profitable business.

Indiana, which ranks in the top five for meth production, has 22 companies certified by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to decontaminate properties.

And business is, um, booming.

“It’s such a growing epidemic,” said Donetta Held, CEO of Crisis Cleaning, a Bloomfield, Ind., company. “It’s everywhere — from a high-dollar house in downtown Indianapolis to these rural counties.”

Held’s company has already done 25 meth cleanups this year, in less than three months. That’s already half as many as the company completed last year.

“Some people say there is not as much meth or meth has gone down,” Held said. “Um, no. I don’t see that at all.”

Neither do police, which have seen a steady growth in meth lab seizures in the past three years. In 2009, law enforcement shut down 1,364 labs. In 2010, 1,395 labs were seized. Last year, that number climbed to 1,437.

That has meant lots of revenue for meth cleanup companies. Most companies charge about $2 to $3 per square foot to do a cleanup. Depending on the size of the property and how many rooms need to be decontaminated, the cost can range from $5,000 to $10,000.

And, now, who is saying that the states should not require a prescription for pseudoephedrine?

Well, it is the drug company that makes allergy and cold pills that contain the meth precursor chemicals. They are afraid of reduced sales.

Most of these labs would go away with NO precursor chemicals with which to make methamphetamine. So, why the delay?

A solution is easy – limit the precursor chemicals and secure the Mexican border from the drug cartels.

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share save 120 16 Stratfor on Methamphetamine Production in Mexico
Meth Mouth1 Stratfor on Methamphetamine Production in Mexico

Meth Mouth – the effect of Methamphetamine use

Stratfor has an excellent piece on the production of methamphetamine in Mexico and Central America, production techniques and precursor chemicals.

Based on evidence obtained from raided laboratories in the United States and Mexico, it appears there are two primary methods of methamphetamine production in those countries: the phenyl-2-propanone (P2P) method and the reduction method.

Sometimes referred to as “building up,” P2P is considered the more difficult of the two methods. It requires more chemicals and materials and more sophisticated chemistry. In fact, the chemical process is so technical and complex that it requires several days to complete, necessitating a skillset akin to that of licit chemists. It also entails a purification step that increases the potency of the final product. While P2P produces a more potent final product, the method is subject to the competence of the manufacturers and the quality of the chemicals being used. P2P is the method most employed by Mexican criminal organizations because its two primary requisite precursor chemicals, methylamine and phenyl acetic acid, are loosely regulated in Mexico.

Reduction is the manufacturing method primarily used in Asia and the United States. This method involves mixing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine with a few easily attainable precursor chemicals. With reduction, a manufacturer can cook a small volume of meth (a few ounces) in as few as eight hours. Indeed, the key difference between the manufacturing methods is that reduction requires less time and less sophistication than P2P, and ultimately it produces an inferior product.

It should be noted that the manufacturing method has nothing to do with production scale. Either method can be used to cook large or small quantities of the drug. It can be manufactured in a hotel, apartment, home, car trunk or backpack. However, to produce meth on an industrial scale, a manufacturer would need more space. Past seizures have taken place in large warehouses (around 1,600 square meters, or 17,000 square feet), small ranches (6-40 hectares, or 15-100 acres) or even mid-sized homes.

Cost of production also differentiates the two methods. While meth is more cheaply rendered by reduction, both methods are extremely cost effective. Depending on the price of chemicals used — determined by the quantity of chemicals purchased and the legitimacy of the supplier — the cost of manufacturing 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of meth comes to anywhere between $150 and $4,000. The use of methylamine, which is highly regulated, expensive and, as stated, only used in the P2P method, is the key factor in this price range; substituting methylamine with a mixture of methanol and anhydrous ammonia drastically reduces the cost. According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Illicit Drug Prices Mid-Year 2009 report, the wholesale market price for meth is $19,720 per kilogram while its street value is $87,717 per kilogram. Needless to say, this is a huge markup.

But it is not necessarily the overall cost that determines the production method of Mexican criminal organizations, or any meth manufacturer. Rather, it is the availability of precursor chemicals that matters. Mexican manufacturers could save vast sums of money by exclusively using the cheaper reduction method. But the Mexican government’s strict regulation of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine compels criminal organizations to use other methods, such as P2P, that require less-regulated precursor chemicals.

Read all of the report and then you can watch this video on the effects of methamphetamine on the mouth. The American Dental Association authored the video.

share save 120 16 Stratfor on Methamphetamine Production in Mexico

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