Category : Health & Medicine

A chart is Worth 1000 Words-Fentanyl is now America’s deadliest Drug

Posted in America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine

(Church of England) Guidance for gender transition services published

New guidance for parishes planning services to help transgender people mark their transition has been published by the Church of England.

The pastoral guidance, which will be incorporated into Common Worship*, encourages clergy to be “creative and sensitive” in using liturgy to enable people to mark a major transition in their lives.

It formally commends the incorporation of the existing rite for the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith into services which mark gender transition.

It details how elements including water and oil can be incorporated into the service and, crucially, makes clear that trans people should be addressed publicly by their chosen name.

As part of the service they could also be presented with gifts, such as a Bible inscribed in their chosen name, or a certificate.

It is important, the guidance adds, that the occasion should have a distinct “celebratory character”.

Read it all and make sure to follow the link and read the full text of the guidance itself.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(NIH) Francis Collins–Statement on Claim of First Gene-Edited Babies by Chinese Researcher

From there:

NIH is deeply concerned about the work just presented at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong by Dr. He Jiankui, who described his effort using CRISPR-Cas9 on human embryos to disable the CCR5 gene. He claims that the two embryos were subsequently implanted, and infant twins have been born. This work represents a deeply disturbing willingness by Dr. He and his team to flout international ethical norms. The project was largely carried out in secret, the medical necessity for inactivation of CCR5 in these infants is utterly unconvincing, the informed consent process appears highly questionable, and the possibility of damaging off-target effects has not been satisfactorily explored. It is profoundly unfortunate that the first apparent application of this powerful technique to the human germline has been carried out so irresponsibly. The need for development of binding international consensus on setting limits for this kind of research, now being debated in Hong Kong, has never been more apparent. Without such limits, the world will face the serious risk of a deluge of similarly ill-considered and unethical projects. Should such epic scientific misadventures proceed, a technology with enormous promise for prevention and treatment of disease will be overshadowed by justifiable public outrage, fear, and disgust.

Lest there be any doubt, and as we have stated previously, NIH does not support the use of gene-editing technologies in human embryos.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Science & Technology

(MB) David Zahl–The De-sexing Of The American Teenager

In a nutshell, despite the fact that our culture has never been more open about and encouraging of sexual expression–almost to a compulsory extent–American teenagers and young adults are having considerably less sex than they used to. From 1991 to 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that the percentage of high-school students who’d had intercourse dropped from 54 to 40 percent. Meanwhile, the U.S. teen pregnancy rate plummeted to a third of its modern high. Wowza.

As someone who’s spent the better part of 20 years working with teenagers and college students, I’ve seen too much damage to see these developments as anything but a net positive. And that’s independent of any theological or even personal parenting concerns. (Just watch Mid90s). And yet, as Julian reports, the decline signals something troubling as well, not only a corresponding rise in anxiety and loneliness but a de-prioritizing–or forced retreat from–intimacy and love itself, with all the unhappiness that accompanies otherforms of disembodiment. What gives? Julian asked around:

Over the course of my research, I was told the sex recession might be a consequence of the hookup culture, of crushing economic pressures, of surging anxiety rates, of psychological frailty, of widespread antidepressant use, of streaming television, of environmental estrogens leaked by plastics, of dropping testosterone levels, of digital porn, of dating apps, of option paralysis, of helicopter parents, of careerism, of smartphones, of the news cycle, of information overload generally, of sleep deprivation, of obesity. Name a modern blight, and someone, somewhere, is ready to blame it for messing with the modern libido.

Sounds about right to me, though I might underline the porn aspect and add schizophrenic attitudes about sex itself to the list. And who knows how much of a chicken-vs-egg dimension there is here–probably quite a bit. But one thing all of the researchers she consults do agree on is that the decline in physical intimacy has to do with a decrease in romantic relationships among teenagers. That is, despite the (largely unfounded) alarmism about hookup culture and dating apps, the real issue is that young people no longer couple off in the same way. The less relationships, the less sex. To wit, I for one was unaware that the highest reported rate of teen pregnancy occurred in 1957, when anxiety over the WWII-induced male shortage led to an increase in serious teenage relationships. Compare that with today:

In 1995, the large longitudinal study known as “Add Health” found that 66 percent of 17-year-old men and 74 percent of 17-year-old women had experienced “a special romantic relationship” in the past 18 months. In 2014, when the Pew Research Center asked 17-year-olds whether they had “ever dated, hooked up with or otherwise had a romantic relationship with another person”—seemingly a broader category than the earlier one—only 46 percent said yes.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Psychology, Sexuality, Sociology, Teens / Youth

Must-not-Miss TV Recommendation–A PBS Nova program on Addiction

Hear firsthand from individuals struggling with addiction and follow the cutting-edge work of doctors and scientists as they investigate why addiction is not a moral failing, but a chronic, treatable medical condition. Easy access to drugs like heroin, fentanyl, and even prescription medications like OxyContin has fueled an epidemic of addiction—the deadliest in U.S. history.

Take the time to watch it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Canada, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(Arda) David Briggs–Faithful man walking: Science finds multiple benefits of religion for justice system

Several studies of religion and mental health have shown religious beliefs and practices and positive relationships with a divine being can be powerful resources helping people cope with major challenges such as illness and unemployment.

More recent research also suggests faith may help individuals deal with intense, lasting anger.

Scholars in the developing field of religion and criminal justice are finding evidence that suggests practical ways faith may turn lives around even in the depths of prison.

One of those new findings: Organized religion matters.

A study of 571 prisoners in Oregon found those who identified as religious and spiritual were less likely to reoffend in the 13 years after an initial 2004 survey than spiritual but not religious inmates. More frequent service attendance and the greater likelihood of spending time in private thought and prayer partially explained the differences.

The results highlight the importance of ensuring support for persons in prison in the process of making meaning, in addition to supporting the work of prisonchaplains and religious volunteers,” researchers reported in the Journal of Criminal Justice and Behavior.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Prison/Prison Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(Guardian) Americans dying younger as drug overdoses and suicides rise, report finds

Americans are dying younger, as drug overdoses and suicide kill an increasing number of people, according to a grim new set of government statistics.

Life expectancy declined in 2017, falling to 78.6 years, according to the new report from the Centers for Disease Control released on Thursday. It is the third straight year life expectancy in the US has declined or stayed flat, reversing course after decades of improvement.

“These sobering statistics are a wake-up call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable,” Dr Robert Redfield, the CDC’s director, said in a statement.

Life expectancy fell from 78.7 in 2016. Women generally live longer, with a life expectancy of 81.1 last year, a number that stayed flat compared with the year before. For men, the number dropped by a 10th of a year to 76.1.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Theology

(Metro UK) Belgian Doctors face possible jail after ‘diagnosing woman with autism so she could get lethal injection’

Three doctors will face a criminal trial in Belgium accused of certifying a woman as autistic so she could die by euthanasia.

Tina Nys died after claiming to be autistic to two doctors and a psychiatrist. She was euthanised after telling officials her suffering was ‘unbearable and incurable’, however her sisters have said that her suffering was caused by a broken heart, not autism.

In the first such case since it was decriminalised in 2002, the officials face trial accused of failing to comply with the legal conditions for euthanasia. Ms Nys’s sisters have accused the doctors of making a rushed decision without treating her for autism.

Read it all.

Posted in Belgium, Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics

(BBC) Chinese scientist He Jiankui defends ‘world’s first gene-edited babies’

…experts worry meddling with the genome of an embryo could cause harm not only to the individual but also future generations that inherit these same changes.

Prof He’s recent claims were widely criticised by other scientists.

Hundreds of Chinese scientists also signed a letter on social media condemning the research, saying they were “resolutely” opposed to it.

“If true, this experiment is monstrous. Gene editing itself is experimental and is still associated with off-target mutations, capable of causing genetic problems early and later in life, including the development of cancer,” Prof Julian Savulescu, an ethics expert at the University of Oxford earlier told the BBC.

“This experiment exposes healthy normal children to risks of gene editing for no real necessary benefit.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology, Theology

(CBS Marketwatch) With genetically edited babies, a scientist transgresses a moral boundary

A Chinese scientist from a university in Shenzhen claims he has succeeded in creating the world’s first genetically edited babies.

He told the Associated Press that twin girls were born earlier this month after he edited their embryos using CRISPR technology to remove the CCR5 gene, which plays a critical role in enabling many forms of the HIV virus to infect cells.

We have just entered the era of designer babies. We will soon have the ability to edit embryos with the aim of eliminating debilitating diseases, selecting physical traits such as skin and eye color, or even adding extra intelligence. But our understanding of the effects of the technology is in its infancy.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology

(Bloomberg) No Amount of Alcohol Use Is Safe, Analysis of Studies Finds

Drinking alcoholic beverages is linked to some 2.8 million deaths each year, according to researchers who concluded that there is no safe level of alcohol use.

The chemical in beer, wine and hard liquor is associated with nearly one in 10 deaths in people ages 15 to 49 around the world, making it the leading risk factor for people in that age range, according to an analysis of earlier studies, published in the Lancet medical journal.

The combined health risks associated with alcohol outweigh any possible benefits, said the University of Washington’s Max Griswold, an author of the analysis, in a statement. Although the study found that alcohol offered some protection against coronary-artery disease in women, “the strong association between alcohol consumption and the risk of cancer, injuries and infectious diseases” offset that.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Alcohol/Drinking, Health & Medicine

([London] Times) Ben Macintyre–Master race dystopia is closer than we think

In an essay published posthumously, Stephen Hawking warned that advances in genetic science would eventually create a generation of superhumans able to redesign and improve themselves by manipulating the genetic make-up of their offspring. “I am sure that during this century, people will discover how to modify both intelligence and instincts such as aggression . . . Some people won’t be able to resist the temptation to improve human characteristics, such as memory, resistance to diseases and length of life.”

In Hawking’s nightmarish vision, there will be stark genetic division in society: a biologically improving elite and a mass of “unimproved humans” without the power or resources to edit their genetic inheritance. “Once such superhumans appear, there will be significant political problems with unimproved humans, who won’t be able to compete.”

Many people already consistently improve themselves and their offspring, when they can, with private education, cosmetic surgery and advanced healthcare. If there is the opportunity to rig the science of reproduction in favour of an improved outcome, those who can afford it, will. The survival of the fittest occurs naturally; now it may be possible to control the same evolutionary process artificially.

Henry Greely, professor of law and genetics at Stanford, predicts that 20 to 40 years from now a majority of babies will be born by IVF, after being screened to ensure their embryos are the healthiest their parents could produce.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology, Theology

(Premier News) Leading atheist defends aborting babies with Down’s syndrome on Premier’s ‘Big Conversation’

Aborting unborn children who have been diagnosed with Down Syndrome is a justifiable act and one that could bring greater all-round happiness to individuals and families, a leading Princeton University professor has argued.

Peter Singer, who is professor of bioethics at Princeton University and a noted moral philosopher, admits he does not regard unborn babies as having the same value as mature humans or even some animals, until they have acquired the ability to reason and have preferences.

The debate, released today, explores the basis for the value ascribed to human life and whether morality is discovered as part of the fabric of the universe and grounded in a source beyond ourselves.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family

A Difficult but Important BBC Piece on the Devastating Impact of America’s Fentanyl Addiction

“Together we are going to end the scourge of drug addiction in America,” President Donald Trump said on Wednesday, as he signed a new bill to tackle the country’s opioid epidemic.

Authorities have seized enough fentanyl to kill every single American. It’s a crisis that lines one major highway. These are the stories of Interstate-95.

Watch it all (about 13 1/2 minutes).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine

(CC) Carol Howard Merritt–Internet addiction

Techies build social media platforms so that we will become addicted to them. Social media money comes from advertisers who need proof of an audience. To get as many eyeballs as possible, techies studied the brain science surrounding addiction in other areas of our lives. Humans get addicted to alcohol, drugs, and gambling because they give us happiness. These chemicals or experiences of winning create dopamine which translates into a euphoria in us.

But happiness is not enough to keep humans addicted. We need light and shadow. There also has to be risk, a challenge, and a fight. Addiction is as much about the negative as it is about the positive.

Think about it. When a gambler wins, he wants to win more, which is completely understandable. But why would he go back when he’s losing? That defies logic.

It’s because he doesn’t want to leave the table a loser, he wants to make it right. He wants to win back his money. So, both the winning and losing draw him into the addiction.

The same thing happens to us during an argument on social media. We want to make things right, to say the right thing to persuade the other, or to dominate them in order to win. We don’t want to walk away a loser, so we become hooked.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology