Seattle-caught salmon found to contain cocaine, antidepressants and pain relievers

Seattle-caught salmon found to contain cocaine, antidepressants and pain relievers

81 drugs and personal-care products were detected in the flesh of salmon caught in the Puget Sound.

Salmon is purported to be one of the healthiest foods due to its high omega-3 content, protein, and essential fatty acids, but if the fish is obtained from the Puget Sound, it is anything but healthy.
According to a recent study, up to 81 drugs and personal-care products were detected in the flesh of salmon caught in the Puget Sound. Some of the drugs include Prozac, Advil, Benadryl, Lipitor, and even cocaine. The Seattle Times reports that the levels are believed to be so high because either people in the area use more of the drugs detected, or because waste water plants are unable to fully remove the chemicals during treatment. Another theory is that leaky septic tanks are contributing to the problem, as high fecal coliform counts were detected.

Said Jim Meador, an environmental toxicologist at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle:

“The concentrations in effluent were higher than we expected. We analyzed samples for 150 compounds and we had 61 percent of them detected in effluent. So we know these are going into the estuaries.”

Samples were gathered over two days for the study, and both migratory juvenile chinook salmon and resident staghorn sculpin were tested. Chemicals were found not only in the tissue of the fish but in the water. And, the researchers suggest, it is likely the study underreports the amount of drugs in the water close to outfall pipes, or in deeper water.

Some of the drugs and contaminates found include Flonase, Aleve, Tylenol, Paxil, Valium, Zoloft, Tagamet, OxyContin, Darvon, Nicotine, caffeine, Fungicides, antiseptics, anticoagulants, as well as plenty of antibiotics.

Intriguingly, the researchers are not concerned about the effect the cocktail of drugs will have on the humans who eat the fish, but they are concerned about how the chemicals are affecting wildlife. Reportedly, Meador’s other recent work has shown that juvenile chinook salmon migrate through contaminated estuaries in Puget Sound and die at twice the rate of fish elsewhere.

That seems like cause for concern.Unfortunately, it not likely the contamination will let up. According to one study, 97,000 pounds of drugs and chemicals could be entering the Puget Sound each year.

Like the issues of plastic pollution and reckless carbon output, this conundrum is a man-made problem that requires human involvement and attention to remedy.

What are your thoughtsPlease comment below and share this news! 

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What does marijuana do to your lungs?

What does marijuana do to your lungs?

Since tobacco smoking causes cancer, marijuana smoking must as well. Right? Wrong.

Marijuana decreases the risk of lung cancer. Marijuana does not cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Thus, Pot is safer than cigarettes.

Professor emeritus of medicine at UCLA and one of the United States’ leading pulmonologists who has been studying weed and its effects on lungs for more than 30 years, Dr. Donald Tashkin once sought to prove pot causes lung cancer, but the evidence forced him to conclude that average weed smoking does not cause lung cancer or impair lung function:

“The smoke content of marijuana is very similar to that of tobacco. There is a higher concentrate of cancer-causing chemicals in marijuana tar, and it reaches the lungs before any other organ, so there is this idea that they are related in causing the same health issues of the lungs. But through my studies we failed to find any positive association [with cancer]. Instead, the association would be negative, between lung cancer and the use of marijuana. The likelihood is, that despite the fact that marijuana smoke contains carcinogens, we don’t see the same heightened risks of cancers that we see in tobacco.”


Dr. Tashkin is not alone in his analysis. To investigate the association between cannabis smoking and lung cancer risk, data on 2,159 lung cancer cases and 2,985 controls were pooled from 6 case-control studies in the US, Canada, UK, and New Zealand within the International Lung Cancer Consortium. Results from the pooled analyses in 2014 provided little evidence for an increased risk of lung cancer among habitual or long-term cannabis smokers.

“I was opposed to legalization because I thought it would lead to increased use and that would lead to increased health effects. But at this point, I’d be in favor of legalization. I wouldn’t encourage anybody to smoke any substances. But I don’t think it should be stigmatized as an illegal substance. Tobacco smoking causes far more harm. And in terms of an intoxicant, alcohol causes far more harm.” – Dr. Tashkin

Dr. Tashkin also found that smoking marijuana, unlike smoking tobacco, does not cause COPD.

“Reasoning for this may be that marijuana is a potent anti-inflammatory and suppressive. But COPD is activated by tobacco smoke and other toxic substances. The other major impact of tobacco smoking on the lungs is the association between smoking tobacco and the development of destructive pulmonary disease, the third cause of death in America.”


Again, his current findings echo results from previous research. In a large cross-sectional analysis of US adults aged 18 to 59 using data from two rounds of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES), researchers from Georgia’s Emory University found in 2015 that occasional and low cumulative marijuana use was not associated with adverse effects on pulmonary function.

Cumulative lifetime marijuana use, up to 20 joint-years, is not associated with adverse changes in spirometric [a person’s ability to exhale] measures of lung health. Although greater than 20 joint-years of cumulative marijuana exposure was associated with a twofold increased odds of a FEV1/FVC less than 70%, this was the result of an increase in FVC [forced vital capacity], rather than a disproportional decrease in FEV1 [forced expiratory volume]as is typically associated with obstructive lung diseases.

The largest and longest study ever to consider the issue [Researchers tested the lung function of 5115 young adults over the course of 20 years, starting in 1985 when they were aged 18 to 30], published in 2012 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that occasional marijuana smoking does not impair lung function.

Marijuana may have beneficial effects on pain control, appetite, mood, and management of other chronic symptoms. Our findings suggest that occasional use of marijuana for these or other purposes may not be associated with adverse consequences on pulmonary function.

Marijuana plus tobacco equals lung poison

Consultant Physician at St. Lucia’s Victoria Hospital, Dr. Martin Didier, warns:

Tobacco contains over 4,000 toxic substances which destroys your lungs.Marijuana for all we know is less toxic, probably contains up to 400 but the combination of smoking marijuana and tobacco they interact and it changes the whole thing into a poison. A poison which destroys the structure and function of the lungs with a lot of consequences.”

Marijuana use alone doesn’t cause significant abnormalities to the lungs

Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws, told ThinkProgress:

“If we’re serious public policy people, we would let the scientists figure this out. Does one set of vegetative matter produce a certain range of carcinogens? If so, to what degree and amount? How do people consume it? This entire discussion should be based on science. But the laughable thing is that the government is against this type of research. All we have are anecdotes but we need science that meets the standards of a proper peer review.”

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A psychologist thinks it won’t be creepy to have sex with robots by 2070

A psychologist thinks it won’t be creepy to have sex with robots by 2070

Humans are sealed bags of bone, blood and flesh that are animated. If you think about it.

Humanoids are sealed silicon bags filled with steel, circuit boards, wires and sensors that are animated.

And soon, what we know to be different on the inside, won’t be so obvious on the outside.

A perfect match, don’t you think?

Thanks to the convergence in the advancement of various technologies like robotics, artificial intelligence and virtual reality humans won’t need to rely on each other for sex anymore. We will have human-like sexbots and virtual reality to satisfy our every need whenever we want it.

According to a Pew Research report that looks at how continuing advancements in artificial intelligence and robotics will impact society, robotic sex partners will become commonplace by 2025.

Yes, in less than 10 years, you might be kissing a robot.

Psychologist Dr Helen Driscoll thinks it will be normal for humans to have sex with robots by 2070. In fact, she goes so far as to say that by that time physical relationships will seem primitive.

Will that change in human behavior at last stop population explosion, I wonder.

Dr Driscoll, a leading authority on the psychology of sex and relationships at the University of Sunderland in the UK made these remarks in an interview with The Mirror.

Having sex with a humanoid seems strange, because we associate sex with intimacy and to a large extend but not always, with love. That’s because we think about this issue in terms of current norms, says Driscoll. She points out that if we think back to the social norms about sex that existed just 100 years ago, it is obvious that they have changed rapidly and radically.

Virtual reality technology has made huge strides in the last couple of years, becoming more immersive and more realistic with advances in haptics – tactile feedback that lets us experience the digital and virtual as physical and tangible.

“As virtual reality becomes more realistic and immersive and is able to mimic and even improve on the experience of sex with a human partner, it is conceivable that some will choose this in preference to sex with a less than perfect human being. People may also begin to fall in love with their virtual reality partners.”

It is when robots are intelligent and indistinguishable from humans that there will not be much of a difference between sex with a human and sex with a robot.

This reality is closer than you think.

Abyss Creations, the maker of the hyper-realistic silicone sex toy, the RealDoll, has a new prototype, called Harmony, a robotic version of RealDoll. And she is a clever girl.

What makes Harmony much more than a silicone likeness of a woman, is artificial intelligence that allows her to talk, learn and interact sensibly. She’s programed to learn what her owner likes and wants. The idea is that the more she learns about you, the better partner she’ll become.

Now, she must just learn to walk as well, then she can accompany you everywhere.

Homeopathy and astrology are “bogus” and “harmful”, says this Nobel Laureate

Homeopathy and astrology are “bogus” and “harmful”, says this Nobel Laureate

Homeopathy is bogus. This is the expressed opinion of Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan who received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2009.

I must admit, those tiny bottles with drops and little sugary pills don’t look convincing. But if what they contain is totally ineffective, why has the use of homeopathic medicine increased 15% in the US in the past five years?

Ramakrishnana who was making the comments in Chandigarh, India recently, echoes the opinion held by a large portion of the general public and the medical establishment that homeopaths are quacks and their medicine at best harmless but certainly ineffective. Mainstream medicine has always looked down on homeopathy criticizing the practice for not being scientific.

There are logical reasons for this. Homeopathic medicines are made by diluting substances to a very high degree.  The resulting dilution makes it practically impossible to trace a single molecule of the active ingredient in the dilution. Homeopaths claim that the substance leaves a trace or memory in the water or other materials used to make the drops and pills.

Intuitively one questions the efficacy of these dilutions, and it indeed poses a real challenge to scientific evaluation of their efficacy because it’s very difficult to evaluate a medicine that hardly contains any or no active ingredients.

In August 2005, the renowned peer-reviewed journal The Lancet published a systematic review and meta-analysis, reported by a research group from the University of Berne, Switzerland. The study compared 110 similar trials on homeopathy and conventional medicine, and reached the conclusion that homeopathy is no better than placebo. The group later corrected their findings by including previously omitted smaller trials which changed the results of the study, but the damage to homeopathy was done.

It’s the reference to the placebo effect, as if it’s something unacceptable and applicable only to homeopathy that’s interesting.  After all, the placebo effect is applicable to allopathic medication as well. Doctors know that some patients react positively and others negatively to the same medication. Maybe the patient whose symptoms improve, expected them to improve, just like a patient who believes he is getting a morphine injection, experiences relief from pain although only a saline solution was administered.

And just like the person who takes homeopathic medicine and gets better.

Harvard medicine professor Ted Kaptchuk doesn’t think it is belief that makes patients better.

He told Brian Resnick of Vox that medicine has ignored the placebo effect for too long. He says the usual definition of a placebo as “the effect of an inert pill,” is an oxymoron because an inert pill can’t have an effect.

Kaptchuk sees the placebo effect as a surrogate marker for everything that surrounds a pill, like the rituals of medicine, the symbols of medicine, and a warm, empathic doctor.  Taking medication activates neurotransmitters in the brain, activates specific quantifiable and relevant brain regions that release neurotransmitters which modulate symptoms. People taking a placebo feel better, or experience less pain because the whole engagement, not only the medication, everything surrounding it, make changes to the brain.

It’s not a case of mind over matter.

From travel bans to alternative facts: the dangerous descent into irrationality

From travel bans to alternative facts: the dangerous descent into irrationality

At the beginning of his presidency, Donald Trump signed a new executive order preventing citizens of six Muslim-majority countries from entering the US for the next 90 days. The decree covers Syria, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen, but it will not apply to visa holders or dual citizens. Refugees will be denied entry to the country for a period of 120 days.

Trump’s original travel ban was struck down by the courts in January; it also included Iraq, which has been left off the list this time.

For the past month, even after the first order was suspended, academics have been detained and questioned at American airports and many others have been left in limbo, afraid to undertake planned travel to the US.

Beyond the effects that the new ban will have on people from the Middle East and North African region, it also has serious repercussions for science. Trump’s travel prohibitions are an integral part of a broader ideology that is at war with rational critical thought. It is from that perspective that my scientist colleagues and I find ourselves most concerned.

An attack on scientists

The United States today is the world’s leading scientific research hub, and the largest producer of skilled scientists and engineers. It is difficult to estimate what percentage of the world’s active scientists are US-trained, but it is well documented that somewhere between 30% and 50% of US-trained scientists and engineers at the PhD level are foreign-born.

Many of these highly talented individuals return to their countries to support development at home. Many remain in the US to become the researchers, engineers, medical doctors and tech-entrepreneurs that fuel the economy there.

It may be anecdotal, but it is worth considering that if the father or mother of a future Steve Jobs were trying to enter the United States today, they may be prevented from doing so. As a panel of scientists and security experts argued after the 9/11 attacks, the US needs the influx of people as much, if not more than, the rest of the world needs to be allowed into the US.

It is illuminating to consider that as far back as 1996, 21% of members of the US National Academy of Science were foreign-born. This does not take into account the US-born children of immigrants who are National Academy members.

The US is where some of the most important scientific conferences, such as the Gordon Conferences, take place, and thus where some of the best ideas that might shape the future of the world are exchanged. It is therefore no surprise that the European Molecular Biology Organisation has criticised the travel ban and created a platform by which its members can offer to host their stranded colleagues.

Many scientists are now wondering whether, in solidarity with their banned colleagues, they should boycott US conferences and refuse invitations to speak in the country. Others believe this to be counterproductive, and the debate rages. Both sides make excellent points, and the answer is not simple.

What is clear is that if the proposed isolationist and discriminatory policies continue, a scientific boycott would have strong moral and political justification, comparable to that of other boycott movements that protest against discriminatory policies all over the world.

An attack on science

The travel ban is detrimental to scientific exchange and progress in the US and possibly globally – not just because it is potentially based on bad data. However, there is a far greater menace underlying its ethos, and that of the Trump administration.

While the term “alternative facts” is great comedy material, the ideology that underlies is not funny.

From a scientific perspective, it is tragic. Science is a process of generating facts (we call them data). In science there are no alternative facts. There may be alternative interpretations of the same facts, but not alternative facts.

Without confidence in facts, there can be no meaningful debate on interpretation, and thus no progress. It is a fact that the planet is warming. It is also a fact that human activity contributes significantly to that warming. Scientists may debate how to tackle these changes, and which model will best predict future effects. However, they do not disagree on the facts.

And science is much more than the collection of data. It is a process of analysis and discussion of data. It is the process that allows rational thought, open debate and the evolution of understanding to rule over personal preferences, individual biases and ideological positions.

This is not the monopoly of people in white coats who speak weird jargon and drink too much coffee. Science is the prerogative of every person in the world. It is what sustains freedom of exploration, respect for positive debate and acceptance of a better idea based on proof.

This is what the language and attitude of the current US administration seeks to undermine.

The travel ban imposed by the US administration is one symptom of a wider and more dangerous assault on fundamental values of rational thought, evidence-based opinion making and debate.

Ibn Al-Haytham: father of the scientific method.
Sopianwar, CC BY-SA

It is a great irony that we are witnessing attacks on both fact and people from the Middle East and North African region, given that the father of the scientific method is the great scientist and mathematician Ibn Al-Haytham, who just happened to hail from what is today Iraq.

It is no coincidence that this assault also counts among its victims serious journalism and the courts of law.

The core values I have mentioned are key to scientific research, but they are also integral to modern democracy and respect for human dignity and equality. As such, they are worth standing up for by all of us, most of all by scientists.

By Bassem Hassan, Neuroscientifique, directeur de l’équipe Développement du cerveau, Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle épinière (ICM). This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.