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Showing posts from July, 2018

ROS = reactive oxygen series; free radicals

You don't have to know or remember organic chemistry to know what a free radical is--simply understand that they are needy motherf-ers that steal energy (electrons) from others and make them miserable. Those that were stolen from in turn steal electrons from yet others, leading to an energy-vampire chain of misery. End result: oxidative stress and damage to cells and DNA, often associated with cancer, heart disease, autoimmune diseases and neurodegenerative disorders.

Free radicals come in many forms; most of them sound like moans (•OH, NO, ONOO-). They appear in the body through exposure to environmental pollutants, toxins, infection, radiation/UV rays, deep-fried foods (sadness), and normal metabolism.

Thankfully, a healthy diet rich in antioxidants can help combat oxidative stress and keep cells healthy, because antioxidants donate electrons to free radicals so they shut up and leave other molecules alone.

Fruits with rich hues such as blueberries, blackberries, cherries, and p…

Nonmaleficence = do no harm

No one wants to be Maleficent. The Hippocratic Oath, Florence Nightingale Pledge, medical ethics, nonmaleficence--a rose (with thorns) by any other name. Bottom line: do no harm. This also proves a handy guideline for teaching, parenting, friendship, taekwondo sparring, and other interpersonal interactions or activities.
Is somebody going to get hurt? Then no. Or, if hurt is inevitable, what option will do the least amount of damage while providing maximum benefit? Vancomycin may leave an elderly patient's hearing and kidney function in ruins, but at least the patient will still live to buy hearing aids and go through dialysis. Some bleeding risk from anticoagulant medications outweighs the risk of a massive heart attack--bleeding can be stopped, whereas dead heart muscle can no longer be convinced to do its job.

Just like beauty in math is defined by minimal complexity and maximal applicability, nonmaleficence means minimal harm and maximal benefits. However, there is one other, …

ABCDE = melanoma screening

Skin cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the U.S.. The #1 way to prevent skin cancer is to use sunscreen and avoid sun exposure. Early detection is also key to good long-term prognosis.

Melanocytes are tiny, pigment-producing cells responsible for a whole lot of prejudice in human history as well as possible cancerous mutations in the form of melanoma. Thankfully, one can recognize early signs of melanoma through the ABCDE screening method, which coincidentally describes a number of family/relationship issues.

A for Asymmetry: asymmetrical moles can be cause for concern, as can any kind of favoritism among children, or someone loving another much more than one is loved back (if at all).

B for Boundaries: smooth and even borders to a mole are good; scalloped or blurred lines are not. Children will ceaselessly test boundaries, and discontent significant others will push the limits until they break.

C for Color: even coloring in a mole is good; several shades of red, bro…

CA = cancer

Our understanding of time breaks down at extremes. If the Big Bang happened, what came before it? And what, then, came before that?

We think time has a beginning and end because our lives have a beginning and end. Like most creatures on earth, our DNA comes with telomere caps, and as we run out of telomeres, our bodies age and die. However, if cellular regulation goes wrong, cancer cells can divide indefinitely and "live" forever, as HeLa cells do.


Ironically, DNA mutations that can lead to our demise also have the potential to make us immortal: in laboratory petri dishes across the world, in people's memories, through art and words.

There're a few things wrong with cancer cells, however.

They are anaplastic, having nonspecific appearances, so that under a microscope many different types of cancer look alike. Like cartoon characters with exaggerated eyes, they have giant nuclei. These cells have no function. They adhere loosely, break off, travel and spread (metastas…