Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Birth Control that Doesn't Work is Given Positive Spin

Good grief! A study shows that the difference between condoms and withdrawal is 1% to 2% as far as preventing pregnancy, and goes on as though that makes withdrawal a smart choice! People, a difference of a percent or two does matter!

Quote: "in perfect use -- meaning the man pulls out every time -- withdrawal has a 4 percent failure rate, as compared to condoms, which have a 2 percent failure rate. " Four percent in perfect use doesn't sound good too me! I'd want a failure of less than one percent. And in real life use, the failure rates for these methods are 17 and 18 %. Whoa! No wonder there are so many kids!

If your brakes failed 17% of the time, you wouldn't drive the car, at least not for long because you'd wind up in a wreck. Even a 1% failure would be an unacceptable risk.

It amazes me that birth control has progressed so little over the last 50 years. We have methods that fail a lot and methods that are risky because of side effects. That's the way it's been since I was a teen and that's still how it is.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

When Does Human Life Begin?

This is an ancient and important question. People try to debate the ethics of abortion but how can they have an intelligent discussion when there is no agreement on precisely when human life begins. Sure, there are philosophical opinions and religious ideas but those are not facts.

I came across a fairly full discussion of this question at Development Biology Online. Read it if you want to be prepared for any sort of argument over abortion. Points that stand out for me include:
  • At week 5 the first neurons begin to appear
  • At 7.5 weeks the embryo displays its first reflexes in response to stimulus
  • Around week 8 the embryo has a basic three-neuron circuit
  • Not until around 20 weeks is the completion of the development of the thalamus, a region of the brain which enables the integration of the nervous system.
If you are concerned about causing pain, you might support an early abortion but not a later one. I'm not seeking to start an argument but it's something to think about.

Truvia Post Draws 50 Comments

The post on Truvia and gastric distress has had 50 comments to date. I still don't know why so many people have had a reaction to the product. I suspect that my personal unpleasant experience was due to the erythritol but it could also be due to the unspecified "natural sweeteners."

Since writing the original post, I have discovered that I no longer tolerate significant quantities of fructose. This is a huge challenge in planning meals. I will ask the doctor to test me for fructose intolerance.

Anyway, here is what Cargill says about erythritol:
"Erythritol is an all-natural, non-caloric sweetener, used as an ingredient that provides bulk for the tabletop form of Truvia™ rebiana. Bulking agents are additives that increase the bulk and contribute to the texture of a food. Erythritol has been part of the human diet for thousands of years as it is present in fruits such as pears, melons and grapes, as well as foods such as mushrooms and fermentation-derived foods such as wine, soy sauce and cheese. It is added to foods and beverages to provide sweetness, as well as to enhance taste and texture."
I don't tolerate any of the foods mentioned very well, so I guess I should have done more research before trying something that contained erythritol. Fermented products are a problem for many of us who have allergies to yeast and mold.

Also, the online FAQ for Truvia gives this evasive answer to a question about what are the natural flavors in the product:

"Natural flavors are used to bring out the best of Truvia™'s natural sweetener, like pepper or salt or any other spice that would be used to heighten the taste of food."
Huh, that tells me nothing. Must have been written by a political speechwriter!