2012-07-26

Study finds fluoride in water is neurotoxic, lowers IQ

Alarming and very important news. Apparently, fluoride in water is neurotoxic, and lowers IQ. Children, unborn children, and heavy water drinkers may be among the most affected.

Other studies have previously found that IQs of breastfed babies are 10 points higher on average than IQs of newborns fed formula milk. Could neurotoxicity of fluoride in tap water, mixed with formula, be another factor in that?

Harvard Study Finds Fluoride Lowers IQ


[...]

After reviewing fluoride toxicological data, the NRC reported in 2006, "It's apparent that fluorides have the ability to interfere with the functions of the brain."

Choi's team writes, "Fluoride readily crosses the placenta. Fluoride exposure to the developing brain, which is much more susceptible to injury caused by toxicants than is the mature brain, may possibly lead to damage of a permanent nature."

Fluoride accumulates in the body. Even low doses are harmful to babies, the thyroid, kidney patients and heavy water-drinkers. There are even doubts about fluoridation's effectiveness. New York City Legislation is pending to stop fluoridation. Many communities have already stopped.

Infant formula when mixed with fluoridated water delivers 100-200 times more fluoride than breastmilk.
Update: arguments on Reddit point out that:
  • this is a press release merely being conveyed by Reuters, who disclaims responsibility for the content;
  • the study is flawed because it "relies almost exclusively on Chinese studies of fluorosis in high-fluoride areas", and "Asian drinking water is often extensively contaminated with fluoride concentrations above 4 mg/L". In contrast, "civil fluoridation is optimally .6-1.2 mg/L - the high levels in the study were 2.5 to 7 times that".
I'm not sure about you, but a safety margin of only a factor of 3.5 does not inspire me with confidence. If the margin is this low, it's easy to drink enough water to exceed the "safe" intake, and put you firmly in the fluoride intake levels of those populations where the study found children had lower IQs.

It's also easy to occasionally dump enough fluoride in the water to exceed the safe values. I've had water with an obvious severe overdose of fluoride in first world cities such as Miami and Vegas.

(I have a sensitivity to fluoride, which is why I use a non-fluoride toothpaste. When there's a lot of fluoride, I notice. In these cases, the water stank of it, and I felt the same adverse effects as from fluoride toothpaste.)

2012-07-23

Surrogacy should be more common

Consider this.

Pregnancy and childbirth involves unavoidable and irreversible aesthetic damage to the mother's body. Some people argue this is not "damage", but "change", and that it's "natural", and therefore ought to be appreciated.

I believe there's nothing about "natural" that necessarily implies "desirable", and that these changes to the mother's body are about as equally desirable as disease and death.

In addition, childbirth involves a good chance of functional damage:

Fifteen percent of women become incontinent, to some degree, of stool or
urine after normal delivery, this number rising considerably after these
women reach menopause. Vaginal birth injury is a necessary, but not
sufficient, cause of all non hysterectomy related prolapse in later life.

You can avoid functional damage by opting for a Caesarean Section, and you can mitigate some of the aesthetic impact through plastic surgery. But this is risky, and is inferior to avoiding the damage altogether. Abdominoplasty has a 5% complication rate, including a chance of lethal blood clots. Even in the optimal outcome, results involve large scars. And bolted-on boobs usually don't look right.

Depending on how you looked before, naked, you may look better after all these procedures. But if you looked great before, you're not likely to look as good. Not to mention the risks of the surgery going wrong.

Many women suffer during pregnancy, experiencing nausea, depression, or an inability to take prescription medication which they need for normal functioning. Some women, however, have few problems, or no problems at all. Their pregnancies are easy, and they experience no complications during labor.

Currently, most jurisdictions require a doctor to certify a "medical necessity" in order to use a surrogate mother.

But wouldn't it make sense for women who have already given birth, and have not experienced problems, to be surrogates for those who haven't?

The risks of functional damage are lower for someone who has already given birth, than they are for someone who has not. The aesthetic impact is also lower for someone who has already accepted changes related to pregnancy in previous child births.

Surrogates are compensated, of course. In the US, they receive between USD 20,000 and USD 50,000 for each pregnancy.

So why require a medical necessity, when both parties are willing, and it makes sense to assign the pregnancy to someone who has already done it?

2012-07-07

The doghouse: Cabletica

If you find yourself in Costa Rica, looking for a home internet provider - pick ICE.

I signed up for internet with both ICE (the phone company) and Cabletica (cable), because I want a backup connection in case the primary is down.

The ICE technician arrived the next day, installed the phone line, installed the modem, and everything worked.

But Cabletica... oh boy.
  • The Cabletica technician first came around a few days after ICE (the companies were contacted at the same time).
  • When Cabletica first came around, there wasn't a computer or a TV in the apartment, so they said they can't install, because they have no way of testing the connection. Apparently, the company doesn't entrust their technicians with equipment they need to test.
  • When Cabletica came around the second time, the technician messed with the phone cables for no reason, disabling our ICE connection temporarily. The modem had to be restarted twice to bring the ICE connection back online.
  • The Cabletica technician left us a modem and an activation code. Before he left, he said I should use the activation code in a browser when the modem gets a connection.
  • Once the modem was online, trying to activate using the provided activation code resulted in an error. At the time of this writing, it still doesn't work.
  • Our landlord contacted Cabletica several times for us. A technician was supposed to visit us again, but didn't.
  • Cabletica said they would call us, but didn't.
  • I sent Cabletica an email, but so far, all I got was an automated reply.
  • Cabletica pointed us to their online chat function on their website - which I was only able to access because we have a working connection from ICE. I tried accessing the chat function on two separate days mid-day (11 am and 1 pm, respectively). Both times, I was told no operators were available, and I should try again "during working hours".
To summarize - Cabletica is a mess. In addition, I was told by people who use it that they've recently experienced as much as 12 hours of uninterrupted down time.

Except strictly as a backup connection, I wouldn't recommend Cabletica to anyone.