Entries in Blog (4)


Sunscreen 101: A beginners guide to choosing a suncreen

Spring is here and will soon turn into summer, and swim suits will come out of hibernation. This then, is a good time to educate ourselves in sunscreens. Lets get right into it. There are two kinds of sunscreens, chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreens are absorbed by the skin and chemicals then absorb UV rays to protect your skin.
Physical sunscreens form a protective barrier on your skin and usually deflect or block the UV rays.
So far so good. Seems that both types are giving you benefits of UV protection. Let's dig deeper!
Physical sunscreens can be made of Titanium dioxide (TiO2) or Zinc oxide (ZnO). Chemical sunscreens can be made of Avobenzone, Oxybenzone, Octisalate and the list goes on! Most common chemicals I have seen being used in sunscreens are the above three.
Why am I talking about these ingredients you might ask! Here is why. The problem with chemical sunscreens is they get absorbed in your skin and can interact with your DNA. Yes! You read correctly your DNA. They can metabolite to produce free radicals and behave as carcinogens themselves. Same is true for Vitamin A, also known as Retinyl palmitate found in sunscreens. It can also harm your DNA. And you know how protective I am of the DNA ;)
More then half of the chemical sunscreen can cause hormonal issues and imbalance.
That's not all, chemical sunscreens find their way into your blood, urine and even breast milk if you are breastfeeding, AND can hang out in your body for up to 2 days after a single application. OUCH!
Preventing cancer from UV, but causing cancer by damaging DNA or at the very least, aging your skin faster and/or irritating your skin, not good news then is it?
y rule of thumb is to avoid chemical sunscreens. At first I used to just think of SPF factor, the higher the SPF the better.  But, I found out that an SPF between 30 and 45 is all you need anything higher is just a marketing ploy.
Physical sunscreens are the way to go, but the white tint is a big no-no for fashion forward people like me ;) So I went on a search for a perfect sunscreen.
My search brought me to MyChelle, it is a physical sunscreen that does not leave a white tint on your face and it has moisturizing components as well.
There are other sunscreens that might work for your skin as well, the best thing to do is look for Titanium dioxide and Zinc oxide as active ingredients and absence of Vitamin A or any other harmful chemicals like dimethicone. More on that another time.
If you have any questions on how to choose a good sunscreen write them in the comments section and I will try my best to answer them for you.
Enjoy the sun and be SAFE.

Lung damage a side effect of education!

An alarming studyshowed 44 Lakh students in Delhi are growing up to be adults with possible irreversible lung damage. That is 4.4 million kids. Why are they prone to irreversible lung damage you might ask?
They are breathing poisonous air on their way to and back from schools! I am just speechless to read this report. And I am all the more shocked at the blind eye that authorities are turning to the concerns.
Scientists from Kolkata-based Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute (CNCI), did studies and found the following :
  • In lung tests conducted on 5,718 students, 43.5% suffered from “poor or restrictive lungs”.
  • About 15% of the children surveyed complained of frequent eye irritation, 27.4% of frequent headache, 11.2% of nausea, 7.2% of palpitation and 12.9% of fatigue.
  • Delhi’s numbers were far higher than that among the ‘control group’ of 4,536 students selected from 17 schools spread across the “much less polluted” rural areas of Uttaranchal and West Bengal. 
If that does not shock you this will.
Scientists have made recommendations to move schools away from the arterial roads that are heavily polluted in Delhi and also made recommendations around the time of the day that students should not be out and about amongst other things.
If you are still not shocked here is a fun fact that will drop your jaw, the above study was done in 2002, more then a decade ago.
The recommendations that scientists made were never shared with the schools.
So after all these years the pollution is worse and kids are suffering even more. And no one is listening.
Here are my two cents. People are not only asleep when it comes to serious issues like this, they are in a freaking coma!
Why recommend moving schools away from polluted roads, when we should be actually working to reduce pollution. Always treating the symptom, never looking at the cause! Isn't that the irony of the world we live in.
How about we deal with the problem? Delhi does not have a good public transport system, would that not be a good place to start? Or car pooling! Or using hybrid car! Or planting more trees!
I think solutions can be found, if our government stops turning a blind eye to every problem. Until then God save these children.

Best from Waste


I remember in school we had annual projects called “Best from waste”. We had to come up with something useful from well, basically what was considered waste. We made toy trains out of toothpaste boxes, dolls out of ice-cream sticks, you get the point! The reason I am talking about it is a group of scientists took this idea rather seriously. They went digging through the dirt to get life saving molecules.

Ever heard folklore’s of some spring or a river having magical healing properties? Those might not be just folklores! A research group at Rockefeller university or should I say my work neighbors, collected 185 samples from beaches, forests, deserts, hot springs, city parks and other natural environments. What they found was nothing short of miraculous. They found bacteria that secrete antibiotic like compounds or have genes that could produce antibiotic like compounds. These compounds have anti bacterial and even anti cancer properties.

I guess the story of Lord Hanuman finding medicine to revive Lakshmana from a mountaintop might not be a myth after all. Nature harbors all the answers, all it takes is looking. Maybe there are more benefits in taking vacations in nature’s abode then we give credit for.

That brings me to a bigger concern though! A terrible virus called greed infects humans; yes it seems worse then Ebola or HIV.

Now that there is something to gain from natural resources that were not tampered until now; these will get exploited for seeking answers to our well-being. What happens next could save us or be our doom. First, it will be scientists getting interested in these resources, rather soon pharmaceutical industry will get interested. Then there will be profits to be made and, higher the gain more the tampering of these natural environments. We will deplete these resources and destroy the delicate balance responsible for our answers before we know it.

Or we can get a wake up call and realize that nature holds answers to our worse problems and work towards conserving and expanding what little we have left. Today the rates of cancer related deaths, heart problems, obesity related issues, and myriad of other health problems are higher then ever before. Reason? Our life style, the air we breathe in, the pots we cook in, appliances we nuke our food in, I can go on! We are creating the next generation of bugs, poisons and diseases.

Would it not be smart to take a step back and reassess our choices? Perhaps we might not even need antibiotics stronger then Rifamycin to cure TB. Perhaps we might take a hard look at mistakes we have made, or are making and learn from them. Perhaps more of us would install solar panels, more of us would recycle, and more of us would work towards reducing our carbon footprint. Maybe we would plant more trees and use less plastic. Perhaps we might just see that our way to healthy and happy life is a much less traveled road, the one to the woods.  


New Perspectives

A research team at University of Arizona found a star, half the size and mass of sun 150 light years away from us. And this star has three planets orbiting around it, that could have liquid water and similar rocky terrain as earth. WOW! I am so amazed by this and not just because it was my alma mater to discover it. 

So far we have lived like we are the only ones. Somehow special! Unique. We have made ourselves feel entitled even. We have grown up with a concept of aliens with movies, TV shows, comic books, magazines, mythical stories but for most part we have not really thought of them as REAL. They are a figment of imagination as far as most of us are concerned. Even if we believed they exist, I doubt any of us thought we would discover them in our lifetime. 

I am not saying we have discovered life but the possibility of it feels more and more real with each discovery of this nature. Maybe aliens have visited Canada! 

The point is it gives a new perspective to think from. I wonder if we would be any different did we know we share this universe with another life form. May be higher then us maybe not. Would we still be fighting over our religions, our faith, our beliefs, our opinions? Would we be more humble? Would we be more united and at peace with other nations if someone was out there?

Would we more careful or careless on how we use our resources on this planet? Would our art be inspired by a power unknown to us? Would there be poetry that would include aliens and life outside? 

I don't have any of these answers but I do wonder! And it is amazing to wonder, it does add a new layer to how I think, how I write and how I dream. 

And I do hope that discoveries like this would make us better human beings. Somehow bring peace and love. Teach us to be united. Inspire us to live more and stress less. Make us free. May be make us fall in love with ourselves. May be!!