Entries in Dipti Mehta (9)

Thursday
May072015

A new horizon.. a new hope for cancer patients!

We have been talking about fighting cancer for so many years and I remember listening to my mentor tell me that while 2015 is unrealistic for cancer cure, 2025 is probably going to see great leap in the field of cancer cure.

As I read more and more about immunotherapy and novel drug delivery modules I am beginning to think this might be a reality sooner then 2025.

 G. Szeto, Adelaide Tovar, Jeff Wyckoff/MIT, Wellcome Images (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

This amazing image is a testament to one such drug delivery module. MIT based team of scientists have designed a polymer capsule that can be used for targeted therapy. I know as soon as you hear the word polymer you think well but a polymer could have its own gamete of problems, scientists are ahead of the game, the polymer is bio-degradable and dissolves quickly to release the drug.

While this testing currently is only in animal models and it needs to be refined to get access to deeper tissues, it is a step towards the goal, I might even say a leap towards the goal.

When I see an image like this, I don't just see science, I see Art, I see hope and the peak of human ability.

And then I wish why can't we use the same will to fight for peace, what if we eliminate all war and work towards creating a world free of diseases. What if we fought for not just us but for other species to have harmonious life.

And then I wish for my wish to come true.

Thursday
Apr162015

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.
Thursday
Apr022015

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.
Thursday
Mar262015

5 easy ways to save the planet, nope to save humanity !!

5 easy ways to get greener right now. They are so simple that even a child could do them. 
 
1. Carry a handkerchief : 
I grew up in India where it was a common practice to carry a personal handkerchief. So when  you washed your hands you had your own little kerchief to wipe your hands. No need for a tissue. If everyone started this small practice, right there we would save a forest or two. There are other countries that have a similar practice. While I am writing this a Japanese friend actually gifted a handkerchief to me. Really!
 
2. Carry a  stainless steel bottle for water:
 Bottled water being safer is a myth. See any documentary and you will know the evil of bottled water industry. Start carrying your own bottle and fill it at local water fountains. Especially if you are in a city like NY, tap water is subject to tighter regulations then bottled water. Now your water can taste better, you can save a ton of money and feel less guilty for throwing away a ton of plastic water bottles in those landfills. Bonus points for carrying your own coffee cup/mug and not using the disposable paper or  Styrofoam cups.
 
3. Buy a trendy set of bamboo silverware :
 You can eat your take out with your own cool bamboo silverware. Every day tons of plastic forks, knives and spoons get thrown out. Imagine eating hot soup with a plastic spoon. It gives me chills thinking about the micro plastic particles that one would be eating every single meal.
  
4. Carry your own bag for groceries :
 Not only will you lower the plastic consumption you might also get a refund in some green stores. The plastic used for carry bags is the worse kind and can not be further recycled. These bags land up in ocean, get eaten by cattle, birds, fishes and ultimately land up in human food. Yikes! Not something you want to be a part of right?
 
5. Carry your own container for peanut butter to Whole Foods:
 Whole Foods allows you to take your own container. Pre weigh the container and then fill your favorite peanut butter or any other item that is in their dispensing section. What an easy way to use less plastic!
 
Your turn, share your own green tricks with us. We would love to add to this list so comment on and let us in your green secrets. 
Monday
Feb162015

About to wash your hands? Read this first!

Researchers at University of Manchestar have linked excessive hand-washing in hospitals with increased risk of dermatitis. For those of you who don't know what dermatitis is, it is when your hands become too dry and start cracking up eventually leading to rashes or infection. It can be painful, burn on contact and make it difficult to use your hands.

People are too afraid of germs these days. I was just having this conversation with an esteemed microbiome expert. We are so afraid of germs that we are getting crazier and crazier. We are using bleach, anti-bacterial soaps, caustic soda, alcohol (hand sanitizers!) to make sure we can get rid of all the germs. 
There is a two-fold problem with these practices. One you are getting rid of the germs that are actually harmless, and might even help protect you. In absence of these healthy microbes there is nothing to stop more harmful microbes to take over your gut or hands in this case and create issues. 
Second problem is again two fold, use of chemicals is making your hands excessively dry by robbing you of all the natural oils from your skin and you are ingesting micro quantities of these harmful chemicals.
Baby wipes have more chemicals then something I might use in the lab. Now that, is pure alarming!
We ought to ask ourselves one simple question. These chemicals didn’t exist a hundred years ago. In some remote villages these are unheard of even now! People still manage to stay healthy. I personally believe water is a good for most purposes. Also, there are studies indicating that anti-bacterial soaps are not really anti-bacterial. So you are inviting dermatitis for no reason at all!
On a pure physiological level, our body will never waste its energy on what is not needed. When we wash our hands we are getting rid of the moisture, then we apply lotion on our hands. Doing so tells our skin that it does not need to need to produce natural oils. 
Next time you wash your hands, think! Do you really need to wash your hands? If you do, do you really need to use soap? As far as hand sanitizers are concerned, my recommendation is to use essential oil blends instead. These will help you stay sanitary and keep your skin happy as well.
I would just like to say, that instead of worrying about germs so much, work on having a healthy immune system, and trust me you will be much happier you did.