Researchers Develop Novel Compound From Fart Gas Which May Provide Real Health Benefits

large_2742657654A few years back, Kelly Clarkson, the first winner of television’s biggest talent show, American Idol, reminded us of the adage “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” in her 2011 hit single ‘Stronger’. The unfortunate failure in that logic is that sometimes what you come up against will actually kill you. Today, we learn about researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School who have studied a potentially lethal substance for the remarkable health benefits it can provide.

Hydrogen sulfide, perhaps infamously known for its trademark odor of rotten eggs or a particularly foul brand of flatulence, is a heavier-than-air gas that, in the right concentrations, can asphyxiate those unlucky enough to find themselves in its noxious presence. To be certain, being trapped on an elevator with Earl from accounting while he wages an intestinal battle with last night’s pepperoni pizza will not be pleasant, but neither will it be a fatal ascendancy into the hereafter.

Twenty-five years ago this month, however, a dairy farming family tragically learned of the lethality of hydrogen sulfide when, at approximately 9am, five male members were overtaken by and succumbed to the oxygen robbing chemical compound. The incident occurred in the farm’s manure pit, an enclosed structure just off the cattle barn that had cattle feces electrically conveyed into it.

The tragedy began when the farmer’s 28-year-old son entered the pit to replace the shear pin on the agitator shaft. Accompanying him was his 15-year-old nephew who, upon seeing his uncle overcome, yelled to his younger brother outside the pit to go and get help. When help returned, the 15-year-old had also become unresponsive in the pit. While emergency services were en route, the farmer, his other son and the farmer’s nephew all entered the pit to attempt an extraction. In less than 20 minutes, the farmer, his two sons, his grandson and his nephew all lay motionless inside the putrid environment.

Why then would researchers look at this highly-toxic compound with the offensive odor for some form of health benefit? It may be because, as discussed above, what doesn’t kill you can make you stronger. The team found that hydrogen sulfide, in just the right tiny dosage, can help to fend off life-altering conditions, from diabetes to stroke, heart attacks and dementia. They believe the right dosage, which they designed and produced in a novel compound, could be instrumental in developing future therapies.

Early work with their new compound has shown that it actively protects the powerhouse of the cell – mitochondria. Mitochondria – which regulate inflammation and determine whether a cell lives or dies – drive energy production in blood vessel cells. If the compound can prevent or even reverse mitochondrial damage in these cells, the team believes their creation will be sought as a primary treatment for patients suffering from heart failure, stroke and diabetes, as well as for those diagnosed with arthritis and dementia. Dysfunctional mitochondria have already been linked as a factor in the severity of diseases.

“When cells becomes stressed by disease,” noted professor Matt Whiteman of the University of Exeter Medical School, “they draw in enzymes to generate minute quantities of hydrogen sulfide. This keeps the mitochondria ticking over and allows cells to live.” Continuing he stated, “If this doesn’t happen, the cells die and lose the ability to regulate survival and control inflammation. We have exploited this natural process by making a compound, called AP39, which slowly delivers very small amounts of this gas specifically to the mitochondria. Our results indicate that if stressed cells are treated with AP39, mitochondria are protected and cells stay alive.”

Echoing Whiteman’s sentiment, Dr. Mark Wood of Biosciences at the university stated, “Although hydrogen sulfide is well known as a pungent, foul-smelling gas in rotten eggs and flatulence, it is naturally produced in the body and could, in fact, be a healthcare hero with significant implications for future therapies for a variety of diseases.”

While the research has yet to progress to human trials, professors Whiteman and Wood are hopeful their early results will hasten that process. So far, after looking at several models of disease, the pre-clinical results are promising. Their work with regard to cardiovascular disease shows that greater than 80 percent of the mitochondrial cells are able to survive in otherwise hostile and highly destructive conditions when the AP39 compound is administered.

Additionally, small-scale studies presented last month at the 3rd International Conference on Hydrogen Sulfide in Biology and Medicine in Kyoto, Japan showed benefits of the compound in treating high blood pressure. AP39 was able to reverse blood vessel stiffening which aided in lowering blood pressure. Also, post-heart attack, the compound has been effective at helping to slow the contractions of the heart, improving its efficiency.

The University of Exeter study appears in the journal Medicinal Chemistry Communications. Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch have published their own work with the Exeter compound which shows AP39 selectively protects mitochondrial DNA in mitochondria. Protecting that DNA is crucial because, once damaged, it is unable to be repaired and thus leaves the individual far more vulnerable to disease symptoms. The University of Texas research follow-up study was published in The Nitric Oxide Journal.

Hydrogen sulfide, which has previously proven its unpleasant and even lethal qualities could, in fact, be one of the more important cure-alls to come along in some time. The broad applications in cardiovascular health and for the regulation of inflammation along with the clinical success already enjoyed by the AP39 compound will quite possibly improve the health outcomes for those afflicted with anything from high blood pressure to dementia. So, it would appear, in this one instance at least, Ms. Clarkson certainly knew of what she sang.

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(Originally published at

Drag Queen Singing Contest Winner Blamed For Killer Floods In Serbia, Bosnia And Croatia (VIDEO)

ESC2014_winner's_press_conference_11_(crop)Our American exceptionalism does not, it turns out, hold a monopoly on creepy and crazy religious zealots that try to assign divine reach to natural and man-made disasters. Giving our top evangelists a run for their money is an Eastern European contender who claims he alone knows the cause for last month’s horrible flooding in the region. Let’s be clear: groups that actively seek to bring harm to others are not guided by God. They act because they are unwilling or unable to recognize the humanity in those they attack. Weather events are not guided by the hand of God. They are natural phenomena that follow natural laws.

So sure, the late-Jerry Falwell’s assertion that 9/11 was visited upon us because God was mad at the abortionists, idolaters, adulterers, ACLU, gays and others for trying to make America a secular nation seemed a special brand of crazy.

And then just four short years later, Columbia Christians for Life channeled their inner Courtney Love to read the satellite imagery of Hurricane Katrina. Their email stated:

The image of the hurricane, with its eye already ashore at 12:32 p.m., Monday, August 29, looks like a fetus (unborn human baby) facing to the left (west) in the womb in the early weeks of gestation (approximately 6 weeks).

The five health clinics that provided safe and legal abortion to the women of New Orleans were, according to the group, most definitely in God’s crosshairs with the killer storm.

Why stop there? About a year after the storm, Pastor John Hagee claimed Katrina roared ashore and took more than 1,800 lives because New Orleans allowed Gay Pride Parades and events to take place. Yeah… that seems sensible.

But why should American clergy have all the fun? That might be why Serbian Orthodox cleric Patriarch Amfilohije of Montenegro has taken to blaming the recent spate of flooding that killed as many as 50 and displaced another 150,000 on Mr. Tom Neuwirth of Austria.

Eurovision 2014 Winning Song: Rise Like A Phoenix

Mr. Neuwirth, whom you might better recognize as Conchita Wurst, the bearded drag act that took home top honors at this year’s Eurovision contest, should be viewed as a canary in a coal mine, the eastern European zealot explains. He states:

This is not a coincidence, but a warning. God sent the rains as a reminder that people should not join the wild side.

Conchita Wurst now joins a long and distinguished list of patsies the blow hard religious leaders can trot out to try and explain actions and events they are unable to understand on any scientific or human level.

photo credit: Conchita Wurst –

(Originally published at

Long List Of Social Media Acronyms Compiled By FBI For Field Use

large_5193288074Short for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the FBI has armed their agents with an exhaustive, though far from complete, listing of shorthand abbreviations used by the denizens and devotees of social media. The research into and printing of this list was brought to light thanks to the fine people over at the open-records website MuckRock, who filed a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request for the document back in January. What we learned is that the FBI produced an 83-page document with around 2,800 entries to help keep their agents up-to-date “in [their] work or for keeping up with [their] children and/or grandchildren.”

The “Twitter Shorthand Guide” is comprised of many of the most well-known social media acronyms created to date. LOL and LMAO are almost as well-known as someone who will TTYL. But the list also has some acronyms that, short of you being in the know and part of a community of users that communicates with the abbreviations frequently, might look as jumbled as a spoon just drawn from a steaming bowl of alphabet soup.

FMTKFYTFO could be an intimidating message to try and decode. Your lack of understanding might play right into the sender’s hands as it is “For me to know, for you to find out”, however. Several other highly obscure acronyms are listed in the document which, according to the DI’s (Directorate of Intelligence) IRSU (Intelligence Research Support Unit), became necessary, “with the advent of Twitter and other social media venues.”

David Shariatmadari, of The Guardian, wrote up an excellent article about the nature of sub-languages within cultures and how they have a propensity to morph and change as the affected language loses its secretive and exclusive qualities.

“There’s a long history of cliques and subcultures modifying the way they speak or write,” Shariatmadari stated. “They might do it to evade detection, or to strengthen the bonds of group membership by excluding others. The results are not languages, exactly, but sub-languages, byways that weave between the main roads of common parlance, navigable only if you have the right kind of map.”

He continued, “They have been called slangs, argots or cants. The circle of those who can understand may be as intimate as two, or it can encompass whole communities of strangers.”

The use of acronyms or argots or cants or slang on the internet was, in many cases, developed to evade detection, whether by parents standing over a child (PLOS = Parents Looking Over Shoulder) or from prying eyes out in cyberspace where TROL refers to a police patrol. And, as Shariatmadari notes, this is not a new phenomenon brought about by the ubiquity of online communications.

“Twitter has its strict 140-character limit; in comment threads or on forums, it becomes tiresome to have to type out long phrases,” he explained. “As Tom Standage has pointed out, similar constraints gave rise to the short forms used on Roman wax-tablet messages: SVEEB meant “If you are well, that is good, I am well” (si vales, bene est, ego valeo). SPD was short for “Sends many greetings” (salutem plurimam dicit). Now, as then, people who have something risky to say can make a virtue of these necessities. An abbreviation saves time, but it can also act as a means of addressing only those in the know.”

It is this last point that could render the FBI’s efforts fruitless. The nature of a sub-language is that it remains exclusively understood by a relatively small subset of individuals. By studying, understanding and distributing this list to its agents, the FBI has all but guaranteed that many of these acronyms will undergo a necessary change in order to communicate a message tailored to a specific audience while excluding from the conversation those they don’t want to let in.

In a somewhat related and very funny twist on the explosion of online acronyms, grabbed a list off the internet that was making the rounds of the forwarded e-mail circuit so very popular with members of the greatest generation. This list takes some of the more popular acronyms out there and redefines them to mean something to an elderly audience.

For example, where LOL might mean ‘Laughing Out Loud’ to most who have seen that acronym, this list, tailored for the more wizened among us, claims it means ‘Living On Lipitor’. And DWI now means ‘Driving While Incontinent’, BTW means ‘Bring The Wheelchair’ and it throws a twist to ROFL by adding CGU, meaning ‘Rolling On The Floor Laughing…..Can’t Get Up’. A MILF to this crowd means ‘A Meal I’d Like To Forget’ and when you see TTYL you may want to reach for your earplugs. The comedic take on this is ‘Talk To You Louder’.

Whether for fun, efficiency or evasion, our rekindled love affair with acronyms is here to stay. If you don’t have access to the FBI’s full list, just know that when you run across a new jumble of letters you can remain calm and LMGTFY (Let Me Google That For You)

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(Originally published at

The Bacon Craze: Enough Already

origin_4076711470Bacon is a delightful breakfast meat that has easily and commandingly slipped into every other meal that one might consume. And it doesn’t stop at lunch and dinner, either. Would you like bacon coffee? They make it. Maybe a refreshing bacon soda is more your style? It exists. Want to gnaw on some bacon jerky or bacon brittle? They’ll deliver it to your house.

But seriously, this has to stop.

For all male bacon lovers, a study out of Harvard University, released two weeks before Halloween, must have been truly terrifying. This succulent fried meat, it seems, could be responsible for sapping your essence.

Researchers in that study observed a cohort of 156 men who were struggling to conceive with their partner. While looking at the diets of the participants, the researchers found those men who consumed more than half a portion of processed meats every day had fewer “normal” sperm compared directly with those men in the study whose diets included less than a half portion daily.

In an interview with the New York Daily News, Dr. Jorge Chavarro said, “What brought up our concern is how meat is produced in the United States. Many beef producers give cattle natural or synthetic hormones to stimulate growth a few days or weeks before the animals are killed.” Chavarro continued, “We wanted to examine how these hormones might affect people who consume them.”

But barring bacon from your breakfast or burger is, to some, a fate worse than death. Perhaps this is why the fine folks at Consumer Reports released a definitive rating of the best and worst bacon brands available on the market.

If you are a Costco aficionado and devotee, it should come as no surprise their Kirkland Signature was the only product that received an excellent rating. As Consumer Reports notes, “It crisped up nicely and consistently; had balanced fat and meat flavors complemented by wood smoke and a hint of sweetness.” But have your deep freeze at the ready because with a single-quantity purchase equaling 4 1-pound packages, you actually will be bringing home the bacon.

Other contenders came in a close second place. Consumer Reports tested Niman Ranch, Trader Joe’s, Wright and two pre-cooked bacons, as well as two Hormel Black Labels which they found a tad sour. They caution not to confuse price with quality. Oscar Mayer’s fully-cooked bacon has the highest average price while ranking below many of the tested brands.

If you are a true bacon lover, it will come as no surprise the rating team was none too pleased with the turkey bacon offerings.

I started this article off by calling for an end to this literally morbid fascination with bacon, and I now present to you the seventh sign of the Bacon-ocalypse: Seattle-based J&D Foods Power Bacon deodorant.

This opportunistic and zeitgeist exploitative company is the same group behind earlier offerings like bacon-flavored lip balm and bacon-scented shaving cream. J&D Foods slogan for this new entry into the personal grooming category is “For When You Sweat Like a Pig.” The company promises you will smell like a pig, albeit cooked, for 24 hours if you apply “liberally to underarms or private areas.” Private areas? Eh, no thanks.

J&D Foods also pioneered the art of adding bacon flavoring to food products that should never receive bacon flavoring. You may have seen Baconnaise or Bacon Salt as you’ve cruised down your grocery aisle. They also produce BaconPOP and Cheddar BaconPOP (bacon-flavored popcorns).

If you still aren’t convinced the bacon wave has gone too far, you can have your very own Power Bacon deodorant for the exorbitant price of $9.99 per 2.5 ounce stick. Just don’t feign shock or surprise when your co-workers suggest you take a mental health day or, worse yet, when you are being chased through the streets by a frenzied pack of hungry hounds.

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(Originally published at