New Zealanders flee tsunami after powerful earthquake

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Residents on New Zealand’s eastern coastline fled their homes early Monday morning after powerful earthquakes triggered a tsunami.

Officials urged residents in Wellington, Christchurch, the Chatham Islands and other coastal areas to move inland or seek higher ground after a magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck shortly after midnight local time.

A magnitude-6.5 temblor hit shortly after about halfway between Wellington and Christchurch, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported.

Cars clogged the roads and tsunami sirens blared on New Zealand’s South Island as waves approached the northeastern coast. Emergency officials warned of tsunami waves as high as 5 meters, or over 16 feet, along certain stretches of South Island.  Read more…

More about Evacuation, New Zealand South Island, Wellington, Christchurch, and Tsunami Waves

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Watch a Donald Trump impersonator terrify Ricky Gervais on ‘Ellen’

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Friends, it has happened again: a well-known celebrity has been pranked on Ellen.

This time, the victim was Ricky Gervais, who, interestingly, had just finished explaining how he used to think it was very funny that Donald Trump was running for president.

“It was fun to start with,” the comedian said. “I was excited.”

Shortly after this remark, a Trump impersonator burst from a nearby box, startling and confusing Gervais. 

“What was that?” he said, clearly disturbed.

It’s as much poetic justice as we can hope for in these troubling times. Read more…

More about Donald Trump, Ellen, and Watercooler

The Link Between Birth Control Pills and Depression

By Dr. Mercola

Birth control pills are the most popular form of contraception among U.S. women. They’re taken by 16 percent of this population, while just over 7 percent use long-acting reversible forms of contraception, such as a hormonal intrauterine device or implant.

What these pills, devices and implants have in common is that they’re forms of hormonal birth control – that is, they contain or release synthetic forms of hormones, such as estrogen and progestin (a form of progesterone), which work to prevent pregnancy in various ways.  

The problem is that these sex hormones also affect mood and other biological processes and artificially manipulating them can lead to many unintended consequences in your body, some of them uncomfortable and some quite serious, including altering your mental health.

Birth Control Pills Linked to Depression

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark analyzed data from more than 1 million women over a period of 14 years. None of the women, who were between 15 and 34 years of age, had been diagnosed with depression at the start of the study.1

However, the analysis showed that women who used hormonal birth control had a 40 percent increased risk of developing depression after six months compared to women who did not. The risk was greatest among adolescents.

The use of hormonal birth control was also associated with subsequent use of antidepressant drugs. Certain types of hormonal contraception had varying risks. Specifically, the use of:

  • Progestin-only pills led to a 1.3-fold higher rate of antidepressant use
  • Combined birth control pills led to a 1.2 higher rate
  • Transdermal patch led to a 2-fold increased risk
  • Vaginal ring led to a 1.5-fold increased risk

Anecdotal Reports Suggest Hormonal Contraceptives Lead to Mood Changes

Lead study supervisor, Dr. Øjvind Lidegaard, a professor at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, told CNN:2

“We have known for decades that women’s sex hormones estrogen and progesterone have an influence on many women’s mood.

Therefore, it is not very surprising that also external artificial hormones acting in the same way and on the same centers as the natural hormones might also influence women’s mood or even be responsible for depression development.”

Despite this knowledge, many health care professionals are reluctant to suggest that the risks of hormonal birth control may be too steep for some women, especially those with a history of depression.

While scientific validation has yielded some conflicting results, one report in the Oxford Medical Case Reports journal detailed two cases of women with a history of depression who developed depressive symptoms after treatment with hormonal contraceptives (the combined oral contraceptive pill, progestin-only pill and combined contraceptive vaginal ring).3

Case Reports Detail Onset of Depressive Symptoms After Use of Hormonal Contraceptives

In one case, a 31-year-old woman experienced gradual improvement of her depressive symptoms after she stopped using the vaginal ring. However, “a sudden and acute worsening occurred” shortly after she started using a combined birth control pill.

About a month later, she again experienced a worsening of symptoms “almost simultaneously with the initiation of treatment with combined contraceptive vaginal ring.” The researchers noted:4

“HC [Hormonal contraception] was again interrupted, with a subsequent clear improvement in depressive symptoms. The patient remained stable without depression for the following [six] months.”

In the second case, a 33-year-old woman developed depressive symptoms shortly after starting a progestin-only birth control pill. Her symptoms disappeared completely within one week of stopping the pill. The researchers concluded:5

Caution should be used when starting up treatment with HC in women diagnosed with depression, since it might in some cases lead to worsening of the depressive symptoms.

Likewise, attention should be paid to the pre-existing use of HC in women who develop depression, as discontinuation of HC might in some cases be sufficient to treat the depression.”

Hormonal Contraceptives Are Linked to Glaucoma and Other Health Risks

Women who used oral contraceptives for longer than three years were more than twice as likely to have been diagnosed with glaucoma, a leading cause of vision loss and blindness, according to one study.6

The results were so striking that the researchers recommended women taking the pill for three or more years be screened for glaucoma and followed closely by an ophthalmologist.

It might seem unusual that contraceptives could affect your vision, but it’s important to understand that there are body-wide repercussions of artificially manipulating your hormones.

Most birth control pills, patches, vaginal rings and implants contain a combination of the derivatives of the hormones estrogen and progestin. They work by mimicking these hormones in your body to fool your reproductive system into producing the following effects:

  • Preventing your ovaries from releasing eggs
  • Thickening your cervical mucus to help block sperm from fertilizing an egg
  • Thinning the lining of your uterus, which makes it difficult for an egg to implant, should it become fertilized

However, your reproductive system does not exist in a bubble. It is connected to all of your other bodily systems, and therefore hormonal contraception is capable of altering much more than your reproductive status.

According to one report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 30 percent of women who have used the pill and nearly half of women using other hormonal contraception methods stopped their use due to “dissatisfaction,” which was most often caused by side effects.7 Potential health risks include:

Cancer: Women who take birth control pills increase their risk of cervical and breast cancers, and possibly liver cancer as well.

Thinner bones: Women who take birth control pills have lower bone mineral density (BMD) than women who have never used oral contraceptives.

Heart disease:Long-term use of birth control pills may increase plaque artery buildups in your body that may raise your risk of heart disease.

Fatal blood clots: Birth control pills increase your risk of blood clots and subsequent stroke.

Impaired muscle gains: Oral contraceptive use may impair muscle gains from resistance exercise training in women.

Long-term sexual dysfunction: The pill may interfere with a protein that keeps testosterone unavailable, leading to long-term sexual dysfunction including decreased desire and arousal.

Migraines

Weight gain and mood changes

Yeast overgrowth and infection

The Pill May Be a Libido Killer

About 15 percent of women taking oral contraceptives report a decrease in libido, likely because they lower levels of sex hormones, including testosterone.8 One study also found seven times the amount of the libido-killing sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) was present in women who took oral contraceptives compared to women who never used the pill.

Even though SHBG levels declined in women who had stopped taking the pill, they still remained three to four times higher than they were in women with no history of using oral contraceptives, which suggests oral contraceptives may kill a woman’s libido for the long-term. Researchers concluded:9

Long-term sexual, metabolic, and mental health consequences might result as a consequence of chronic SHBG elevation [in women who take, or have taken, oral contraceptives].”

Synthetic Hormones in Drinking Water May Be Increasing Cancer Rates in Men

It’s not only women who are at risk from synthetic hormones contained in hormonal contraceptives. An analysis of data from 100 countries found oral contraceptive use is associated with prostate cancer, which may be due to exposure to synthetic estrogens excreted by women that end up in the drinking water supply.10

While it’s been argued that only a small amount of additional estrogen is excreted by a woman using this form of contraception, this “small amount” is compounded by millions of women, many of whom use the pill for long periods of time. Also, synthetic estrogen and progestin does not biodegrade rapidly and is far harder to remove through conventional water purification systems, resulting in greater accumulation in the environment.

While this study did not prove cause and effect – that is, it did not prove that environmental estrogen from women’s oral contraceptive use causes prostate cancer in men – it did find a significant association between the two that deserves further investigation, especially in light of estrogen’s well-established role in a wide range of cancers and the prevalence of hormonal contraceptive use.

Non-Hormonal Methods of Contraception

Women and men looking for reversible non-hormonal options of contraception may be surprised to learn that there are many options. Conventional health care providers typically steer patients toward the popular hormonal options, but they are far from the only ones.

Barrier methods, which work by preventing the man’s sperm from reaching the woman’s egg, include the diaphragm, cervical cap, sponge and male and female condoms. None of these are foolproof, which is why many couples use them in combination with fertility awareness-based methods.

Fertility awareness involves knowing when a woman’s fertile period occurs each month, and then avoiding sexual intercourse during (and just prior to) this time (or using a barrier method if you do).

When used consistently and correctly, fertility awareness is highly effective at preventing pregnancy; fewer than 1 to 5 women out of 100 will become pregnant using fertility awareness in this manner.11 In order to track fertility, a number of methods can be used by women, including tracking basal body temperature, mucus production, saliva indicators and cervical position.

Many women use a combination of methods, and there are also commercially available ovulation monitors that can be used in conjunction with the other methods. Ninety-nine percent of U.S. women of reproductive age have used at least one contraceptive method at some point in their lifetime, with 88 percent choosing hormonal options.12

However, you may be relieved to learn that you don’t have to subject yourself to the risks of hormonal contraception, or learn to live with the side effects, in order to take control of your reproductive health. An experienced holistic health care provider can help you choose the best non-hormonal contraception options for you.

Acetaminophen During Pregnancy Linked to Childhood ADHD

By Dr. Mercola

Acetaminophen, also known as paracetamol (International Nonproprietary Name),1 may be one of the more dangerous drugs you can purchase. This may surprise you since most households carry one or two variations of the product to treat headaches, fever or cold symptoms.

Acetaminophen is classified as an analgesic, or a medication acting to relieve pain. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, analgesics are the No. 1 reason people call a poison control center.2 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) links 980 deaths per year to acetaminophen and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined that, beginning in 2006, the number of people who died after accidentally taking too much acetaminophen exceeded the number who purposely overdosed on acetaminophen.3

However, these numbers may be deceiving, as other researchers have found 56,000 emergency room visits and 26,000 hospitalizations can be attributed to acetaminophen.4

Although frighteningly high for a drug most people routinely keep in their homes, this isn’t the only damage acetaminophen may cause.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics has linked taking acetaminophen during pregnancy with conduct disorders and hyperactivity in children.5

Acetaminophen During Pregnancy Linked to Hyperactivity and Conduct Disorders

The objective of this British study was to examine the association between behavioral problems in children and mothers who took acetaminophen during pregnancy and/or during the postpartum months, or partners who took acetaminophen.6

The researchers concluded: “Children exposed to acetaminophen prenatally are at increased risk of multiple behavioral difficulties.”7 The researchers did find that these results were not explained by social factors or other behavioral challenges linked to increased use of acetaminophen.

As compared to individuals who did not use acetaminophen during their pregnancy, those who took the drug during weeks 18 and 32 had a 31 percent increased risk of hyperactivity and a 42 percent higher relative risk of conduct disorders in their children.8

This study controlled for a number of different variables that could have affected the results, such as genetics, smoking and alcohol use.9 There were over 7,700 participants.

Not everyone was convinced by the results of the study. Even lead author, epidemiologist Evie Stergiakouli, PH.D., of the University of Bristol, stepped around the issue, saying:10

“Observational associations do not necessarily mean that there is a causal association between the risk factor and the health outcome.”

However, the researchers also noted (quoted from Medical News Today):11

“Children exposed to acetaminophen use prenatally are at increased risk of multiple behavioral difficulties … Given the widespread use of acetaminophen among pregnant women, this can have important implications on public health advice.”

Other Studies Confirm Results and Identify More Risk

While recent, this is not the only study associating acetaminophen with dangerous side effects to your health and the health of your children.

A recent study from the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CERAL), Barcelona, Spain, found a link between acetaminophen use during pregnancy and hyperactivity and autism.12

Researchers discovered more symptoms of autism in boys whose mothers took acetaminophen during pregnancy, than in girls.

They found that all children exposed to acetaminophen during pregnancy were 30 percent more likely by age 5 to demonstrate attention impairments linked with hyperactivity disorder or autism.13

A study found an association between the drug and children later diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).14

Children whose mothers used acetaminophen during pregnancy were at higher risk for hyperkinetic disorder, use of ADHD medications or having ADHD-like behavior by age 7. There was a stronger association when mothers took the drug in more than one trimester.

A study published in 2009 found mothers who used acetaminophen in the third trimester were at higher risk for preterm birth.15 

A study published in 2013 found children exposed to acetaminophen during pregnancy developed motor skills, communication and language skills more slowly than those children who were not exposed.16

Use of acetaminophen during pregnancy also appears to be linked to pre-eclampsia and thromboembolic diseases,17 and taking the drug for more than four weeks during pregnancy, especially during the first and second trimester, moderately increases the risk of undescended testicles in boys.18

Acetaminophen Use and Toxicity

In this short video, CBS News explains the statistics and risks associated with acetaminophen use. The drug works by blocking feelings of pain and reduces fever without addressing the source of the issue. As your body metabolizes the drug, it may damage your liver. In 2009 the FDA issued this warning:19

“Liver warning: This product contains acetaminophen. Severe liver damage may occur if you take more than 4,000 mg of acetaminophen in 24 hours; with other drugs containing acetaminophen [or three] or more alcoholic drinks every day while using this product.”

In 2014, the FDA updated their warning to include:20

“FDA is recommending health care professionals discontinue prescribing and dispensing prescription combination drug products that contain more than 325 milligrams (mg) of acetaminophen per tablet, capsule or other dosage unit.”

Unfortunately, there are times you may be taking more acetaminophen than you realize as the drug is a common addition to other pain and over-the-counter cold remedies.

Vicodin and Percocet are two common prescription pain medications that include acetaminophen, increasing your risk of acetaminophen poisoning, one of the more common forms of toxicity, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).21

Other common brand name over-the-counter medications that include acetaminophen in their active ingredients include:22

Actifed

Alka Seltzer Plus

Anacin

Cepacol

Contac

Coricidin

Dayquil

Dimetapp

Dristan

Excedrin

Feverall

Formula 44

Liquiprin

Midol

Mucinex

Nyquil

Panadol

Robitussin

Saint Joseph Aspirin-Free

Singlet

Sinutab

Sudafed

Theraflu

Triaminic

Vanquish

Vicks

As the drug is a common ingredient in other over-the-counter medications, and has a narrow therapeutic index, it is easy to accidentally overdose or take enough to cause significant liver damage.23 Doses over 5,000 mg per day if you don’t consume alcohol, and 4,000 mg if you do consume alcohol, can trigger significant liver damage. There’s 4,000 mg of acetaminophen in just eight extra strength tablets.

While other countries have placed a limit on how much consumers may purchase and have restricted sales to pharmacies, no such limits are placed in the U.S.24 From 2001 to 2010, the related deaths attributed to acetaminophen were twice that of all other over-the-counter pain relievers combined.

Number of Children With ADHD Rising

In both private insurance and Medicaid populations, the number of children being treated with drugs for ADHD continues to rise. According to the CDC, approximately 3 out of 4 children between age 2 and 5 receive medication for ADHD, but only half of those receive any form of psychological services.25

In 2011, approximately 11 percent of children between the ages of 4 and 17 were diagnosed with ADHD. This is a significant rise from 7.8 percent in 2003.26 The rate of diagnosis of ADHD also varies by state in the U.S., with the highest being Kentucky at 18.7 percent and the lowest being Nevada at 5.6 percent.

According to the National Survey of Children’s Health, the average age of diagnosis is 6.2 years; 3.5 million children are taking medication for treatment, and boys continue to be twice as likely as girls to be diagnosed with ADHD.27

Medications used to treat this hyperactivity disorder are stimulants, which come with their own list of side effects and dangers. Common side effects include headaches, upset stomach and increased blood pressure. Less commonly, children may experience loss of appetite, weight loss, insomnia and tics.28

Natural Alternatives for Pain, Fever and Anti-Inflammatory Treatment

Although the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) continues to recommend acetaminophen for treatment of minor discomfort, fever and pain during pregnancy,29 the choice is ultimately yours. It will be you, your child and your family who experience the repercussions from using medication that may affect your child’s neurological development.

There are other choices for treatment. Dr. Aisling Murphy, assistant clinical professor at University of California Los Angeles Obstetrics and Gynecology, admitted to CNN:30

“Minor aches and pains (e.g., headaches or mild backache), are common in pregnancy and often are a reason for patients to take acetaminophen. The practice is very common.”

However, she also counsels her patients to use other methods first, and avoid any unnecessary medication during pregnancy, including acetaminophen. These alternative modalities may include:

  • Hot or cold packs to the area may help reduce discomfort or pain. However, do not use a sauna or hot tub as these raise your core temperature, increasing the risk for miscarriage or some birth defects.31
  • Your headache or muscle aches may respond well to massage to increase relaxation and improve blood flow to aching muscles or joints.
  • Ginger tea may help relieve tension and sooth your aching head. However, not all herbal teas are safe during pregnancy. Teas contain many of the same nutrients as foods, but in more concentrated forms. Ginger tea may help relieve aching muscles, reduce insulin resistance, ease morning sickness and relieve stress.32 Use fresh organic ginger root to steep your own tea at home and avoid the potential of accidentally ingesting harmful additives.
  • Essential oils are another way to relax, unwind and reduce pain and discomfort. A favorite of some midwives is Frankincense topically, in your bath water or as a scent in your room.33,34
  • Getting plenty of sleep may also help reduce your perception of discomfort and pain. During pregnancy your body is working to develop a new human being. You require more rest and sleep than you normally would. Lack of sleep may increase your perception of pain and discomfort. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep see my previous article, “16 Chronological Tips to Improve Your Sleep.”

Pokémon Go finally goes live in Japan with McDonalds the first sponsored location

<img width="680" height="453" src="https://tctechcrunch2011.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/gettyimages-578547738.jpg?w=680&quot; class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="This photo illustration shows a man playing Nintendo's Pokemon Go game on his mobile phone in front of the Kabukiza theater in Tokyo on July 22, 2016.

The augmented-reality game Pokemon Go, which has been released in more than 30 countries, was launched in Japan where Nintendo created the franchise two decades ago. (Photo: KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)” /> Pokémon Go has finally launched in Japan, the land where Pokémania first began. McDonalds is the game’s first sponsor in a deal which, as we reported earlier this week, turns the fast food firm’s 3,000 stores in the country into Pokémon Go “gyms”. Read More