The Anonymous Widower

Thoughts On a Red And Processed Meat Tax

This article on the BBC is entitled Should There Be A Tax On Red Meat?.

This is the first two paragraphs.

A “meat tax” could prevent almost 6,000 deaths per year in the UK, according to researchers, but should politicians be telling people what they can and can’t eat?

Scientists at the University of Oxford say governments should consider imposing price hikes on red meat – such as beef, lamb and pork – to reduce consumption.

They also go on to suggest these levels of tax, with examples.

In the UK, the study suggests a tax of 14% on red meat and 79% of processed meat.

This would mean the price of a 227g Tesco Sirloin Steak would increase from £3.80 to £4.33.

And for a pack of eight pork sausages from Sainsbury’s the price would increase from £1.50 to £2.69.

It is probably peer-reviewed research, but I doubt it would ever be introduced.

I have few questions.

Would I As A Coeliac Get Extra Tax Relief, As I Need To Eat Red Meat?

I don’t eat much red meat, but to keep my B12 at a good level, I need to eat a quality steak or burger.

Regular levels of B12 help to keep your immune system strong, which is the body’s first line of defence against cancer.

Why Do Coeliacs On A Gluten Free Diet Have A 25% Less Chance Of Getting Cancer?

Research at Nottingham University has shown this.

Being coeliac is unlikely to be beneficial, as whoever heard of a disease that let you live longer?

,So could it be the non-eating too of gluten?

Also, as many who eat a lot of red and processed meat, eat it with a bun or lots of bread,

Could this be significant?

Research needs to be done that considers consumption of red and processed meat, taking eating gluten into account.

How Would I Reduce Cancer?

There are other substances and circumstances that are proven to cause cancer.

  • Smoking tobacco and other drugs.
  • Eating too much and being obese
  • Drinking too much.
  • Too much sunbathing.
  • Diesel and petrol vehicles
  • Gas appliances in the home, not venting outside.

Some of these also cause other health problems.

I’d start with absolute bans on these.

  • Diesel and petrol vehicles.
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Possession of illegal drugs.
  • Gas appliances in the home, not venting outside.
  • Sales of high strength alcohol.
  • Jobs with a proven record of causing cancer like coal mining.

And these things would be compulsory or introduced.

  • Everybody should keep a record in a smart-phone app of what they ate and their weight.
  • Owning a diesel or petrol vehicle would need a special permit.
  • Alcohol could only be bought in special licensed shops.

Obviously, other draconian measures could be introduced.

I doubt it will ever be acted upon, by any Government that wants to win an election.

So What Can We Do That Is Practical?

My view is that we have to nudge people into doing the right thing.

Diesel And Petrol Taxes To Subsidise Zero-Emission Vehicles

Note that I use the term zero-emission vehicle, which is a category that includes battery and hydrogen power at present. But it is a class, that could include other vehicles in future, that have yet to be invented.

If diesel and petrol taxes were to rise and the revenue were used to subsidise the purchase of zero-emission vehicles, then this might persuade more people to switch to zero-emission vehicles.

Money could also be allocated to research into zero-emission vehicles.

Zero-Emission Zones In All Towns And Cities

London is getting an Ultra Low Emission Zone, but this is only the start.

They should be Zero Emission Zones.

They should probably be paired with parking areas outside the zone and connected to it, by a zero-emission high quality rail or bus link.The link could be a segregated walking or cycling route.

The first town or city that uses this model to create healthy air quality will probably reap an enormous dividend.

From recent developments, I suspect it will be the City of London.

Smoking Would Only Be Allowed By Consenting Adults In Private

As smoking had a lot to do with the death of my son I feel strongly about this.

My wife also may have died from secondary lung cancer. But she had never smoked, although she got enough cigarette smoke from her tutor at University, who chain-smoked Capstan Full Strength.

Is There A Radical Approach?

Liverpool University Pancreatic Cancer Research Unit have one of the most impressive databases I have ever seen! It contains every pancreatic cancer case, that has been notified to the University.

They use it to look for links between factors, that might be a clue to what causes this terrible disease and for possible cures.

But imagine an enormous database of all UK cancer cases, that was processed to show how the cancers related to post codes, occupation, age, weight, smoking and drinking habits etc.

Access to an anonymised version of the database would be allowed through the Internet or a phone app.

Would access to the data, nudge people to change their bad habits?

I also know of ten-year-olds, who pester their parents to stop smoking, so imagine what a tech-savvy child would do, if given access to the app. Schools could teach them to use it responsibly.

Could it bring the whole country together to reduce levels of cancer?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 7, 2018 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hydrogen Is Really Happening

The title of this post, is the same as that of this opinion in Energy Voice.

It is a good summary of where we are with hydrogen.

One interesting point of several is that researchers in the US and Spain can extract hydrogen from plastic waste.

This article from FuelCellWorks describes the Spanish research.

That would surely be a real zero-carbon fuel!

July 10, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Better Phone Battery Invented By Accident

The title of this post, is the same as that as an article in today’s copy of The Times.

Discussing phone batteries this is said.

Now researchers think they may have found a remedy – a new form of carbon that could double lithium battery capacity, increase the number of charging cycles and significantly reduce the risk of explosion.

Reading the article, it could be that the researchers at Lancaster University may have found the Holy Grail of battery technology.

The Times even gives OSPC-1, as they’ve called the carbon., a leading article.

There’s more on OSPC-1 in this news item on the Lancaster University web site, which is entitled New Carbon Could Signal Step-Change For The World’s Most Popular Batteries.

June 23, 2018 Posted by | World | , , | 2 Comments

Artificial Photosynthesis Offers Clean Source Of Hydrogen

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on The Engineer.

This is the first paragraph.

Devices made using conventional semiconductor technologies could make hydrogen using just fresh or saltwater and sunlight.

It would appear to be an interesting concept, but after reading the article, there is still a lot of research and development to be done before it is an affordable proposition.

But I do feel, it could be one of those technologies that are commonplace in a few decades.

May 5, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , | 2 Comments

Angelina Jolie Gene Testing For All?

The title of this post is the same as this article on the BBC.

This is said.

Testing all women for the “Angelina Jolie gene”, even if not considered at risk, would prevent cancers, save lives and is cost effective, say doctors.

Having lived for forty years with my wife, who suffered breast cancer and then a few years later died from a squamous cell carcinoma of the heart, I know a lot about the emotional problems of cancer.

Many cancers and other diseases, like my coeliac disease, can be found in our genes.

Our youngest son died of pancreatic cancer, which was probably not helped by his smoking and poor eating and health habits.

If he had been a coeliac, which could have been likely because of my genes, that wouldn’t have helped either! But he wouldn’t be tested!

Speaking for myself, my life might have been very different, if I had been genetically tested as a child!

In the future, genetic testing will become much more the norm, as doctors, researchers, scientists and engineers will reduce the cost of doing a full genetic test.

The BBC article also says this.

The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, estimated the impact of screening all 27 million women over 30 in the UK.

They said it would:

  • prevent 64,500 more breast cancers
  • prevent 17,500 more ovarian cancers
  • save 12,300 more lives

The study also said mass screening would be cost-effective for the health service.

But why stop at breast and ovarian cancer?

I feel strongly, that anybody likely to be a coeliac, should be tested at birth.

Keeping to a gluten-free diet, is getting easier every year and research at institutions like Nottingham University has shown, that coeliacs on a gluten-free diet are significantly less likely to get cancer, than the general population.

 

 

 

 

January 18, 2018 Posted by | Health | , , , | 2 Comments

Forget Trump: The Private Sector Is Still Going Green

This is title of a piece by Irwin Stelzer in this week’s Sunday Times.

Read the article if you can. It talks about how large companies like Exxon and Shell and individuals like Bill Gates are putting prices on carbon and backing reliable clean energy.

The last paragraph sums it up nicely.

Presidents come and go. The private sector will be engaging in long-run research and long-lived investments, perhaps more efficiently than the government has been doing. The profit motive might just turn out to be more productive than the vote-getting or ideological motives of politicians.

I think he could be right!

Think of all those successful projects, that were were done without any Government support or blessing and think of all those government projects that sunk without trace taking millions of pounds with them.

And also think about all that legal money slushing around the world looking for a home in an innovation that will be a wothwhile investment.

March 28, 2017 Posted by | Business, Finance, World | , , | Leave a comment

Remembering A Relative Or Friend

In seven days it would have been my late wife’s sixty-eighth birthday.

C gave her body for medical research and we had a private cremation a year or so later.

In her memory and also in that of my son, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2010, I helped to fund in a very small way some research into the disease at my mine and my late wife’s university of Liverpool.

I wrote about the research in There’s More To Liverpool Than Football And The Beatles!

In some ways, the successful outcome of the research, gave me an enormous lift and now when I think of my son, I sometimes think, that others will hopefully not have to go through, what he and his family did!

Serious research can do that!

So I got to thinking, that perhaps when a friend or relative dies, we should start a fund and give the money to an appropriate charity, that funds research into whatever was the cause of their death.

My funding of Liverpool University’s Pancreatic Cancer research that came about because I asked Alumni Relations at the University to suggest a suitable research project for my donation.

The Devil must have blessed the donation and the research produced a positive result.

But not everyone can be so lucky.

So why not, when someone close to you dies, collect an appropriate amount of money and ask the major charity or perhaps as I did, your old University to find a project to help fund?

I would think that it could be best to go to a central charity like Cancer Research UK or the British Heart Foundation, as they might now something that was very suitable, based in a University of research institution convenient to where you live!

I feel that selecting a well-run and well-respected central charity is that they know the ropes and that the world is littered with charitable failures, set up by individuals with the best of intentions.

August 19, 2016 Posted by | Health | , , , | 1 Comment

Snot Wars

There is no other title for a post about this article on the BBC, which is entitled Antibiotic resistance: ‘Snot wars’ study yields new class of drugs.

The research has been done at the University of Tübingen, which is one of Germany’s classical universities. Wikipedia says this.

Tübingen is one of five classical “university towns” in Germany; the other four being Marburg, Göttingen, Freiburg and Heidelberg.

It certainly sounds to me that ideas for this research, possibly started after a good academic dinner with lots of food and alcohol, if classical German universities are anything like our’s.

After all the idea has been literally up researchers noses for years.

These last two paragraphs of the BBC report describes how the antibiotic-like action was possibly created in the human body.

Prof Kim Lewis and Dr Philip Strandwitz, from the antimicrobial discovery centre at Northeastern University in the US, commented: “It may seem surprising that a member of the human microbiota – the community of bacteria that inhabits the body – produces an antibiotic.

“However, the microbiota is composed of more than a thousand species, many of which compete for space and nutrients, and the selective pressure to eliminate bacterial neighbours is high.”

So why hasn’t this new class of antibiotics been found before?

Could it be that medical research is too much about Loadsamoney and Big Pharma, rather than about ideas, seriously out-of-the-box thinking and dilligent research?

Brains are a lot easier to throw at a problem, than money. Except that good brains are much more difficult to find than good money.

 

July 28, 2016 Posted by | Health | , , | Leave a comment

There’s More To Liverpool Than Football And The Beatles!

This morning, this story on the BBC web site entitled ‘Major Win’ In Pancreatic Cancer Fight is one of the top stories. This is said.

A new combination of chemotherapy drugs should become the main therapy for pancreatic cancer, say UK researchers.

The disease is so hard to treat that survival rates have barely changed for decades.

But data, presented at the world’s biggest cancer conference, showed long-term survival could be increased from 16% to 29%.

The findings have been described as a “major win”, “incredibly exciting” and as offering new hope to patients.

I must admit that I feel a touch of pride, as the study was led by Professor John Neoptolemos at Liverpool University, which was where my late wife and I met when we were both students at the University.

But I also feel a touch of relief for others, who might get this awful cancer in the future, as now they may stand a better chance of survival, than did our youngest son; George, who survived just a few months after diagnosis.

I also raised a small sum of money for the research by visiting all 92 English and Welsh football clubs in alphabetical order by public transport. The main funding for the resarch included Cancer Research UK and I think some EU money!

The BBC story also says this.

The trial on 732 patients – in hospitals in the UK, Sweden, France and Germany – compared the standard chemotherapy drug gemcitabine against a combination of gemcitabine and capecitabine.

I’ve looked up the two drugs mentioned and both are on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines, which are the most important drugs needed in a basic health system.

An article in The Guardian is also illuminating. This is said.

The ESPAC trials, which began publishing findings in 2004, showed that chemotherapy with gemcitabine brings five-year survival up to 15-17%, doubling the rate of survival with surgery alone. The latest research, presented at theAmerican Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago, showed the two-drug combination nearly doubles the survival rate again to 29%.

It showed, said Neoptolemos, that chemotherapy does work in pancreatic cancer, even though most attention in cancer research is now focused onimmunotherapy, and precision or targeted medicine.

But the trial would not have happened without funding from the charity CancerResearch UK (CRUK), because both drugs are old and off-patent, meaning they can be made by any generic drug manufacturer and are consequently cheap. Drug companies would not foot the bill for such a trial because the profits to be made are small.

“This is an academic-led presentation,” said Neoptolemos. “This shows the enormous value of CRUK. Without them, none of this would have happened. There is a lot of pressure [on doctors] to do drug company trials because you get £2,000 to £3,000 a patient. For something like this, you don’t get anything. It has been quite tough to do.”

So this is not some elite drug for the rich, famous and powerful, but one that might even be applied everywhere.

I must admit, that I’ve shed the odd tear this morning!

June 4, 2016 Posted by | Health | , , | 5 Comments

Thoughts On My Vitamin D Deficiency

I’m now convinced that the cause of my bad springs and substantial absences from school as a child, and periods of bad health since, is due to a periodic vitamin D deficiency.

I suffer from several of the same symptoms as my father, who was most likely the parent from whom I inherited coeliac disease.

As a child, I didn’t go out in the son much, as I think I found it a bit painful and I burned. My father was the same in those days and was very much a man for his garage or shed. He only ventured out to smoke his pipe.

The problems dropped, when I went to Liverpool University and met my future wife. But then she would drag me out into the sun for a walk, with great regularity.

When I was diagnosed as a coeliac, I thought this would be the end of it all. And it did get a bit better, with the bonus that I could now sunbathe without burning. I also stopped being bitten by mossies.

Since the death of my wife, my stroke and moving to London, the bad springs and a lot of the other symptoms have returned.

But no-one could say the weather in London and it seems much of North and Central Europe has been very sunny over the last few years.

I even took a holiday in Croatia for some sun, but in My Home Run From Dubrobnik, I saw probably a day and a half of sun at most!

I’m now on vitamin D3 tablets and they appear to help.

But I think, what I need is a good scientific book on vitamin D, how it is absorbed by the body and what it actually does.

So much of what I get told seems to only have vague science behind it!

If I could find a top class University, where they were doing serious research into vitamin D, I’d go halfway round the world to talk to them.

 

June 4, 2016 Posted by | Health | , , | 2 Comments