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HPV is a huge women’s health issue, and the Japanese government needs to stop playing games with anti-vaccers:

Japanese women’s health is increasingly at risk as public-health policy is driven by conspiracy theories, misguided political interference and bureaucratic caution. This is particularly evident in the government’s handling of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to protect against cervical cancer.

In June 2013, just two months after the HPV vaccine was included in the National Immunization Program, the Japanese government made the unusual and perplexing decision to keep the vaccine in the NIP but suspend “proactive” recommendations for it. This was evidently in response to highly publicized accounts of alleged adverse reactions.

The result was that girls in the target age group, from the 6th grade of primary school to the third grade of high school, stopped receiving the vaccine. Vaccination rates dropped to below 1% from about 70%.

Then there is this:

The Vaccine Adverse Reactions Review Committee, a task force established by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare’s Health Science Council, has repeatedly concluded that no causal link exists between HPV vaccines and professed symptoms, and that most reported cases were likely psychosomatic. A study of 70,960 vaccinated and nonvaccinated adolescent girls from Nagoya also found no significant association between 24 alleged vaccine-induced symptoms and the HPV vaccines.

Despite this, on March 16 Dr. Shuichi Ikeda, one of the principal investigators commissioned by the government to investigate alleged adverse events, presented highly misleading genetic and mouse experiment data at the MHLW’s Sciences Research Grant Meeting. He appeared on television the same day stating, “Without a doubt, there are signs of brain disorder. The results clearly reflect the objective findings which are common among the patients claiming such brain disorders.” The following day, major Japanese newspapers ran alarmist headlines.

Unbelievable. Dr. Ikeda should be fired.

The Japanese government needs to get out in front of this ASAP otherwise it will continue to put women in harms way. The public needs to hear from the government about how this claim has already been debunked, and reassure everyone about the true safety and importance of HPV immunization.

While MHLW did already make a statement to refute Dr. Ikeda, it seems to have backfired. They need to take a stronger stance, and forcefully demonstrate Ikeda’s ignorance on this topic, while at the same time presenting evidence showing why the HPV vaccine is safe.

The longer they wait, the longer this festers, and the less women will be inclined to vaccinate.

I found this read quite interesting simply because of two things: one, it is very difficult to stare directly into someone’s eyes for one minute much less ten. It must have felt really uncomfortable and disconcerting for those involved. Two, the psychology behind why this happens is quite fascinating. So consider me intrigued after reading how weird things start to happen when you stare into someone’s eyes for 10 minutes (emphasis added):

A psychologist based in Italy says he has found a simple way to induce in healthy people an altered state of consciousness – simply get two individuals to look into each other’s eyes for 10 minutes while they are sitting in a dimly lit room. The sensations that ensue resemble mild “dissociation” – a rather vague psychological term for when people lose their normal connection with reality. It can include feeling like the world is unreal, memory loss and odd perceptual experiences, such as seeing the world in black and white.

Giovanni Caputo recruited 20 young adults (15 women) to form pairs. Each pair sat in chairs opposite each other, one metre apart, in a large, dimly lit room. Specifically, the lighting level was 0.8 lx, which Caputo says “allowed detailed perception of the fine face traits but attenuated colour perception.” The participants’ task was simply to stare into each other’s eyes for 10 minutes, all the while maintaining a neutral facial expression. A control group of a further 20 participants also sat in a dimly lit room in pairs, but their chairs faced the wall and they stared at the wall. Beforehand both groups were told that the study was going to involve a “meditative experience with eyes open.”

When the 10 minutes were over the participants filled out three questionnaires: the first was an 18-item test of dissociative states; the other asked questions about their experience of the other person’s face (or their own face if they were in the control group).

The participants in the eye-staring group said they’d had a compelling experience unlike anything they’d felt before. They also scored higher on all three questionnaires than the control group. On the dissociative states test, they gave the strongest ratings to items related to reduced colour intensity, sounds seeming quieter or louder than expected, becoming spaced out, and time seeming to drag on. On the strange-face questionnaire, 90 per cent of the eye-staring group agreed that they’d seen some deformed facial traits, 75 per cent said they’d seen a monster, 50 per cent said they saw aspects of their own face in their partner’s face, and 15 per cent said they’d seen a relative’s face.

Caputo thinks the facial hallucinations are a kind of rebound effect, as the participants in the eye-staring group returned to “reality” after dissociating. This is largely speculation and he admits that the study should be considered preliminary. I’d also highlight that while it’s true the eye-staring group scored higher than controls on dissociative states, they didn’t score any of the items on the scale higher than 2.45, on average, on a five-point scale (where 0 is “not at all” and 5 would be “extremely”).

The world’s oldest man died in Japan at age 112 last week and has been succeeded by another 112 year old Japanese man:

A former high school principal who loved Chinese poetry, he has said in the past that sleep was his secret to long life.

The title of world’s oldest living man would now go to another 112-year-old Japanese man, Yasutaro Koide, according to the most recent chart tracking super-centenarians compiled by the Gerontology Research Group.

On the opposite side of the globe, the world’s oldest living woman, Susannah Mushatt Jones, turned 116 on Monday in Brooklyn, New York. She eats four strips of bacon a day and has told TIME her faith in God is the secret to long life.

Surprising the oldest woman is an American. More surprising is she lives in crazy ass New York city. And even more surprising is she lived this long even after eating four strips of yummy, greasy, salty bacon every day!

If that is not a ringing endorsement for bacon then I do not know what is. Long live bacon.

Motherboard on California banning the stupid idea of “personal belief” as an excuse for not getting vaccinated:

Last week, California’s State Assembly considered the bill, which had already been green-lit by the state senate, ultimately voting to approve it 46-30. This week, the senate approved the amendments that were added to the bill before passing it to the desk of Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, who signed the bill this morning.

“The science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infectious and dangerous diseases,” the governor wrote in a memo about his decision. “While it’s true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community.”

It’s essential to have a critical mass of people immunized if we want to achieve herd immunity, which protects those who can’t be vaccinated, like the 12 babies who contracted measles in California during an outbreak last year because they were too young to be vaccinated.

Failure to get vaccinated is a public health issue and puts the lives of every other person in danger. Sadly, America has far too many people who embrace non-science and the impact of such a belief system is going to hinder its future growth.

Irish Times on Japan considering moving elderly families from Tokyo to relieve the congestion overpopulation in the city has created:

Over the next decade, the population of over-75s in greater Tokyo will grow by 1.75 million, warns the council. Looking after 5.7 million very elderly people will overwhelm already stretched services; for one thing, it predicts, more than 130,000 could be left without beds in care homes.

Diffusing Japan’s demographic time-bomb has become something of a political obsession.

By 2060, Japan’s population is projected to fall from 127 million to about 87 million, of which almost 40 per cent will be 65 or older. Last year the government pledged to somehow stem the fall at 100 million.

That is some way to thank older Tokyo residents who dedicated their life to the city – shove them in the backwoods to die alone. What is wrong with people?

France 24 on real-life 40-year-old virgins in Japan and the heartache they experience because of their lack of any real relationship knowledge or education:

Matchmaking expert Yoko Itamoto says the economic emasculation has taken its toll on Japan’s men, as more of them struggle to find secure, full-time jobs.

“Many men seem to have lost confidence as they’ve lost their economic muscle,” she said.

“In the past two decades, the situation for Japanese men has been very tough and competitive.”

The pain caused by an inability to form emotional and physical relationships with women is something that one 49-year-old architect, who did not wish to be named, knows too well.

Only twice in his life has he had romantic and sexual feelings for a woman — the first time in his mid-twenties and then again two decades later.

Both rebuffed him.

“It was devastating,” he told AFP. “It seemed to invalidate my life and take away my reason to live.”

On both occasions he suffered rapid weight-loss, and now fears he might live life as a singleton and a virgin.

Japan is not the hyper-sexual country the rest of the world believes it to be, thanks to its very peculiar yet highly popular cultural exports.

On to something a whole lot lighter. This time mindbodygreen discusses twenty-nine food rules we can learn from the French to keep a slim waistline and remain healthy:

5. Eat real, local, fresh, unprocessed food. 
As much as you can.
6. Balance your meals.
Indulgence is important, but you feel you’ve overdone it a little at one meal, balance it out with a lighter meal the next time you eat.
7. Never go for second best.
It’s about quality not quantity. Always.
8. Have three meals a day.
Not two, not six. Three.
9. Set and respect meal times.
You’ll be hungry for your meals and will actually enjoy each of them if you’re not snacking in between.
10. Add side salads.
Eat a green salad at every meal or at least once a day; it’s the best way to easiest way to eat more plants.
11. Prepare and cook your meals with love.
Take pride in what you prepare to feed and nourish your body.

I especially like the idea of preparing and cooking meals with love. I have dabbled in cooking lately and always try to apply as much love as possible to my meals. The outcome is obviously notable.

One addition to the list I did not quote is to always drink as much water as possible, or even a couple glasses of good quality red wine, completely foregoing sugary drinks like soda, fruit juice, and energy drinks. This is something I need to pay closer attention to, although I have been getting better lately. Most of my meals are enjoyed with wine and water, but I more than occasionally slip in a glass, or three, of Coca-Cola.

The entire list is well worth the read, especially if you are interested in remaining healthy while still enjoying very tasty food.

If you have never tried Golden Milk, then you owe it to yourself to give try it just once. I almost guarantee you will enjoy both the taste and the affect it has on your body. I followed this Golden Milk recipe and love it. I’ve tried it both with Almond Milk and coconut milk, and most definitely prefer Almond because it is far lighter overall.

In the late 80’s, NASA joined forces with the Associated Contractors of America (ALCA) to research the most effective household plants for removing toxic agents from the air. The study found some plants were very effective at filtering out evil like benzene, ammonia and formaldehyde from the air, helping to neutralize the effects of sick building syndromeThis infographic is the Cliff Notes version of that study.