Tag: health

In sickness and in health

Thursday, 31 October, 2013 0 Comments

The Rainy Day team celebrates the annual anniversary of its union today. We have a lot to be grateful for and wish for many more days, rainy or fine, to celebrate our good luck.

Rainy Day hands

Days

What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

Philip Larkin, Collected Poems


Google on Life and Death

Monday, 23 September, 2013 1 Comment

“One of the things I thought was amazing is that if you solve cancer, you’d add about three years to people’s average life expectancy. We think of solving cancer as this huge thing that’ll totally change the world, but when you really take a step back and look at it, yeah, there are many, many tragic cases of cancer, and it’s very, very sad, but in the aggregate, it’s not as big an advance as you might think.” So says search engine entrepreneur Larry Page in “The Audacity of Google”, the main feature article in the current issue of Time magazine, which plays up the interview on its cover with the dramatic title: Can Google Solve Death?.

In a post on Google+ dated 18 September, Page wrote: “I’m excited to announce Calico, a new company that will focus on health and well-being, in particular the challenge of aging and associated diseases… These issues affect us all — from the decreased mobility and mental agility that comes with age, to life-threatening diseases that exact a terrible physical and emotional toll on individuals and families.”

Nabanita Das commented on the post: “quite an overpowering thought ….cancer is known to exist more than 5000 yrs back (as mentioned in epics ) ….it is the most persistent harbinger of natural (aging) death process ….any breakthrough will surely be multifaceted.”

But a close reading of Page’s comments in the Time interview suggest that “solving” the cancer problem is not what Page has in mind. Sure, the search for the cancer “cure” is regarded by many as the Holy Grail of modern medicine, but it does not follow that Page would see it this way. The reason is “Big Data”. More about that here on Wednesday.

Time


Cranberries and Red Bull

Tuesday, 27 August, 2013 0 Comments

There’s sugar in Red Bull, but that hasn’t hindered its march to global dominance in the energy drinks segment. Close to five billion cans of the stuff were sold in 2011, and the Austrians are masters of marketing the drink because they keep on spotting clever ways to insert themselves into stories where the colour red has a role to play. As in the growth and harvesting of cranberries as filmed so beautifully by Alex Horner.

“Cranberries can serve as a good source of supplemental antioxidants. Simply put, antioxidants protect our bodies from harmful molecules we are exposed to every day of our lives.” So says The Cranberry Institute, which has a clear interest in talking up the benefits of the red berries. So what are the facts? Well, cranberries are produced by the Vaccinium macrocarpon plant that’s grown extensively in the northern USA and Canada, and they do contain many healthy, natural compounds. So if you drink cranberry juice, you’ll be taking in relatively large amounts of antioxidants called anthocyanidins which, like all antioxidants, stabilize and ultimately destroy free radicals, the potentially damaging compounds produced in your body as byproducts of metabolism or after exposure to environmental toxins. Be aware, though, that the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center says “cranberry juice has not been shown to treat or prevent cancer.” What’s more, the “cranberry juice” that reaches the consumer often contains higher levels of sugar than are to be found in Red Bull.