Demystifying Fasting and Cancer

All faiths across the globe different faith from Zoroastrians, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Taoism, Jainism, and Hinduism advocate fasting. Fasting is definitely helpful for health and longevity. Social media is abuzz with Fasting and how it treats cancer. There is a sudden surge of colloquial and rudimentary messages on health. Often, these are relied with credence when it comes especially from revered spiritual leaders. One such message is from Sadhguru, a highly respected spiritual leader. In this video, Sadhguru is talking about the ubiquitously presence of cancer cells in our body. To deter the spread of these cancerous cells, he is recommending fasting.

First and foremost, we need to visit the definition of cancer cells. A key characteristic of cancer cell is uncontrolled growth of cells that have accumulated genetic changes (mutations) due to a carcinogen (a cancer causing agent). Second, cancer cells are not goondas that collect in one place as they advance. In fact, as the cancer stage advances these cells spread across their site of origin. Third, fasting is helpful only in select cases, not every cancer. Also, fasting is helpful beyond cancer, however it depends upon the state of metabolism, activities, age, at the least.

While we need people like Sadhguru to bring the social transformation, we definitely want these messengers to provide a solid rationale that is resting on scientific pedestals, devoid of which we will create confusion and loss of credibility. In this article, I have provided a scientific rationale for understanding the causes of cancer and if fasting can help stop the development or progression of cancer.

Words 2492, reading time 9 – 12 minutes. Background in Medicine helpful.

This 2.34-minute video from Sadhguru is truly insightful.  In the below article, I provided the rationale for reconciling scientific understanding of Cancer and Diet with those Vedic practices that are proposed by Sadhguru. More importantly, scientific literature provides a mixed body of the rationale for dietary practice for cancer prevention and or treatment. To rephrase, dietary restrictions can be a feasible option for select cancers, NOT ALL the types of cancer.

I got this video from Singapore, from a good colleague with whom I worked several years ago. With deep respect and reverence to Sadhguru. I listened to this video wherein Sadhguru talked about cancer as –

1) Always present within the body and get stimulated because of stimulants and intoxication.

2) They get organized into one place and later become overwhelming for the body to counter.

3) That these cancer cells consume 27-28 times the normal calories.

His solution according to Yogic culture is –

1) Spacing meals 8 – 12 hours a day

2) Fasting once or twice a month

It immediately drew my attention to the landmark paper by Hanahan and Weinberg, in which the authors talked about ‘The Hallmark of Cancer”. As an Oncology fellow, I remember having read it at least 2-3 times as it was foundational and disruptive in 2000.

As undergraduates, we were tutored on the existence of Oncogenes (1970) and Tumor Suppressor Genes (1986) and Knudson’s two-hit hypothesis (1971). Then, it might have not had such a reminiscent influence on my mind, until I started my post-graduation in pathology. However, Hanahan and Wienberg’s paper was a step ahead in explaining the different pathways for cancer. It served me when I lead the exploratory search for the epigenetics (methylation of TSG) and downregulation of several caspases (genes) in the apoptotic pathway.

I was definitely perplexed when I read the version of Sadhguru on the existence and or progression of cancer for several reasons –

 

  1. I mentioned the key developments in cancer as a stepwise accumulation of mutations in the genes of the cancer cell. These mutations occur due to several factors called carcinogens – viruses, chemicals, hormones, persistent inflammation, UV radiations, etc. We also know that cancer can occur de novo due to improper repair mechanism or existence of germline mutation (mutation inherited from parents). However, stimulants and intoxicants (especially the former), are definitely not carcinogenic and intoxicants like alcohol are considered co-carcinogens, not directly implicated in the development of cancer causation. I especially exclude the 300 plus carcinogens found in cigarettes as a stimulant and include nicotine as the stimulant, which is not a carcinogen, as proven by ‘comet assay’.

I realized, like thousands of other researchers across the globe, that tumorigenesis is a multi-step process and follows a multistep pathway. Germline mutations (those acquired from parents) like BRCA1, BRCA2 or RB genes occur in hereditary cancers. We can call these as existing in all cells in folks who inherit them from parents. However, the percentage of germline mutations are minuscule, possibly representing less one percent of the population. For these hereditary acquired cancers, one single hit drives a normal cell towards cancer progression. Where, in a normal population, any mutation has to hit two times to drive the cells to cancer progression. This Two hit hypothesis was proposed by Knudson in 1971 and is the underlying mechanism for most genetic aberrations occurring in a normal population. Of note, cancer cells do not exist universally in our bodies unless those are inherited from our parents (a less than 1% probability).

TSG and Cancer

 

  1. Though we know that cancer cells consume most of the host nutrition, it is hard to believe that these (cancer) cells organize (like gangs of Goondas) and rob the body of the nutrition. In fact, it is the other way around. Cancer cachexia, a state common in terminal cancer, is primarily due to diversion of nutrition towards metastasized (spread out) cancer cells, not when they come together.

 

  1. The solution offered by Sadhguru, that we should fast at least once or twice to avoid cancer is so much inadequate if not wrong,  as we all know that those who fast frequently have cancer and those obese who are voracious eaters don’t necessarily have cancer (but other metabolic diseases).

 

I specifically mentioned ‘The Hallmark of Cancer” that was published in 2000. This paper made a major stride in advancing our understanding of cancer (the paper was revised by Hanahan and Weinberg in 2011). It is worth revisiting the 6 facets of the hallmark in the above illustration.

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Warburg Effect

Recently, a debate is intensifying on the existence of the mechanism of cancer causation other than carcinogen-induced genetic abnormalities. Immune modification and metabolic abnormalities have also been implicated. The later is called the Warburg effect. Warburg effect proposes that the cancer cells metabolize via the glycolytic pathway even in the presence of aerobic state instead of the much more efficient oxidative phosphorylation pathway.

Let us understand two aspects –

1) Does fasting help the initiation of cancer and

2) Once established and or advanced, will fasting help cancer to regress and or get into control?

Does fasting help cancer?

Recent Geroscience literature reveals that cancer and aging are characterized by dysregulated metabolism consisting of upregulation of glycolysis and down-modulation of oxidative phosphorylation. Based on the research on Geriatric patients, metabolic interventions have been explored as promising strategies to promote longevity and to prevent or delay age-related disorders including cancer.

Will fasting help regression and or control of Cancer?

Select metabolic intervention approaches include chronic calorie restriction, periodic fasting/ fasting-mimicking diets, and pharmacological interventions mimicking calorie restriction.  These are considered as adjuvant anticancer strategies, not the mainstay of cancer therapeutics. By adjuvant, I mean they are supplemented along with standard cancer therapy (chemotherapy, radiation, and targeted therapy). However, to summarize, calorie restriction is subjective and second, where it is effective, it has an adjuvant effect.

Animal studies (in rodents) have shown that chronic caloric restriction reduces and delays cancer incidence, and inhibits tumor progression and metastasis. Also, there is mounting evidence that cancer incidence and mortality are strongly reduced in chronic calorie-restricted non-human primates. Studies of long-term calorie-restricted human subjects have shown a reduction of metabolic and hormonal factors associated with cancer risk. However, chronic caloric restriction is not a feasible clinical intervention. Evident difficulties, such as the long period required to be effective, and unacceptable weight loss, hamper clinical application in cancer patients.

Autophagy: definition and mechanisms

In the 1990’s Yoshinori Ohsumi first proposed autophagy. He received a Nobel Prize in 2016 for Physiology or Medicine for his seminal work in establishing a morphological and molecular mechanism of autophagy.

Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved lysosomal catabolic process by which cells degrade and recycle intracellular endogenous (damaged organelles, misfolded or mutant proteins, and macromolecules) and exogenous (viruses and bacteria) components to maintain cellular homeostasis. The specificity of the cargo and the delivery route to lysosomes distinguishes the three major types of autophagy –

  • Mircroautophagy involves the direct engulfment of cargo in endosomal/lysosomal membrane invaginations.
  • Chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA) recycles soluble proteins with an exposed amino acid motif (KFERQ) that is recognized by the heat shock protein hsc70; these proteins are internalized by binding to lysosomal receptors (LAMP-2A) 6.
  • Macroautophagy (herein referred to as autophagy) is the best-characterized process; in this process, cytoplasmic constituents are engulfed within double-membrane vesicles called autophagosomes, which subsequently fuse with lysosomes to form autolysosomes, where the cargo are degraded or recycled. The degradation products include sugars, nucleosides/nucleotides, amino acids and fatty acids that can be redirected to new metabolic routes for cellular maintenance.

Autophagy occurs at basal levels under physiological conditions and can also be upregulated in response to stressful stimuli such as hypoxia, nutritional deprivation, DNA damage, and cytotoxic agents. Autophagy has attracted considerable attention as a potential target of pharmacological agents or dietary interventions that inhibit or activate this process for several human disorders, including infections and inflammatory diseases, neurodegeneration, metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, obesity and cancer.

Autophagy and cancer
The role of autophagy in cancer is complex, and its function may vary according to several biological factors, including tumor type, progression stage, and genetic landscape, along with oncogene activation and tumor suppressor inactivation. Thus, autophagy can be related either to the prevention of tumorigenesis or due to the enabling of cancer cell adaptation, proliferation, survival, and metastasis. The initial indication that autophagy could have an important role in tumor suppression came from several studies exploring the essential autophagy gene BECN1, which encodes the Beclin-1 protein that is frequently deleted in ovarian, breast and testicular cancer.

BECN1 is located adjacent to the well-known tumor suppressor gene BRCA1, which is commonly deleted in hereditary breast cancer. These deletions are generally extensive and affect BRCA1 along with several other genes, including BECN1, suggesting that the deletion of BRCA1, not the deletion of BECN1, is the driver mutation in breast cancer. Furthermore, the activation of oncogenes (e.g., PI3KCA) and inactivation of tumor suppressors (e.g., PTEN and LKB1) are associated with autophagy inhibition and tumorigenesis. Animal models note that the tumor suppressor function of autophagy is associated with cell protection from oxidative stress, DNA damage, inflammation and the accumulation of dysfunctional organelles. Collectively, these phenomena are important factors that could trigger genomic instabilities leading to tumor development.

However, the loss of function of autophagy genes has not yet been identified and demonstrated in humans, raising doubts about the relevance of autophagy to tumor initiation in different types of cancer. In addition, the autophagic machinery is not a common target of somatic mutations, indicating that autophagy may have a fundamental role in the survival and progression of tumor cells.

Once the tumor is established, the main function of autophagy is to provide a means to cope with cellular stressors, including hypoxia, nutritional and growth factor deprivation, and damaging stimuli, thus allowing tumor adaptation, proliferation, survival, and dissemination. Autophagy, by degrading macromolecules and defective organelles, supplies metabolites and upregulates mitochondrial function, supporting tumor cell viability even in constantly stressful environments. Studies have demonstrated that autophagy increases in hypoxic regions of solid tumors, favoring cell survival (a factor that does not favor fasting to help cancer regression and or cure).

The inhibition of autophagy leads to an intense induction of cell death in these regions. Moreover, tumors frequently have mutations or deletions in the tumor suppressor protein p53, which also favors autophagy induction to recycle intracellular components for tumor growth. Although the basal autophagy rate is generally low in normal cells under physiological conditions, some tumors show a high level of basal autophagy, reinforcing the prosurvival role of autophagy in cancer. RAS-transformed cancer cells undergo autophagy upregulation to supply metabolic needs and maintain functional mitochondria, which in turn favors tumor establishment. Autophagy also has a supportive role in metastasis by interfering with epithelial-mesenchymal transition constituents to favor tumor cell dissemination. Finally, studies have demonstrated that autophagy is commonly induced as a survival mechanism against antitumor treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and targeted therapy, contributing to treatment resistance.

How does dietary restriction modulate autophagy and cancer therapy?

Autophagy and cancer therapeutics have a mixed relationship. Because autophagy can inhibit tumor development or favor tumor growth, progression, invasion and treatment resistance, researchers proposed that autophagy modulation could be a new therapeutic strategy in the treatment of some malignancies. In preclinical studies, dietary restriction (DR) has been shown to extend the lifespan and reduce the development of age-related diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases. DR promotes metabolic and cellular changes in organisms from prokaryotes to humans that allow adaptation to periods of limited nutrient availability. The main changes include decreased blood glucose levels and growth factor signaling and the activation of stress resistance pathways affecting cell growth, energy metabolism, and protection against oxidative stress, inflammation, and cell death. Nutrient starvation also activates autophagy in most cultured cells and organs, such as the liver and muscle, as an adaptive mechanism to stressful conditions.

Studies demonstrate that dietary interventions can reduce tumor incidence and potentiate the effectiveness of chemo- and radiotherapy in different tumor models, highlighting dietary manipulation as a possible adjunct to standard cancer therapies. Among the many diet regimens that have been assessed, caloric restriction (CR) and fasting are the methods under intense investigation in oncology. CR is defined as a chronic reduction in the daily caloric intake by 20-40% without the incurrence of malnutrition and with the maintenance of meal frequency. In contrast, fasting is characterized by the complete deprivation of food but not water, with intervening periods of normal food intake. Based on the duration, fasting can be classified as –

(i) intermittent fasting (IF—e.g., alternate day fasting (≥16 hours) or 48 hours of fasting/week) or
(ii) periodic fasting (PF—e.g., a minimum of 3 days of fasting every 2 or more weeks).

Conclusion

Every stride in translational medicine helps in advancing our understanding of cancer and subsequently, the management of this malady. However, when a person of Sadhguru’s respected stature talks about fiction based on Yogic culture, we tend to degrade our Yogic culture and deprive the credibility of our repute.

However, as stated earlier, there is a mixed bag of information on dietary restriction and cancer prevention or treatment. 

There is a perfect need for interpreting a way of life (Sanatan Dharma and its various plural forms of ideologies for a living). I accept and understand that ancient Vedic science stood on significantly advanced scientific thinking, however, our times are different and we should rely on the current body of knowledge and refine our thinking of ancient yogic culture.

Note: I believe in providing direct feedback. I made an attempt to reach Sadhguru’s office at Coimbatore. No one answered. Possibly, I will make a few more attempts.

Citations:

http://cubocube.com/dashboard.php?a=1582&b=1585&c=1

Effect of short term fasting on cancer treatment https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6530042/

Autophagy and intermittent fasting: the connection for cancer therapy? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6257056/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3608686/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3648937/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5442682/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5107564/

Nicotine: Carcinogenicity and Effects on Response to Cancer Treatment – A Review (2015)
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553893/

https://www.britannica.com/topic/fasting

 

Detecting Fake Pills

It’s no exaggeration to compare illicit medicines with the nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction we all fear. These WMDs, though, are largely aimed at people in poor countries who are already facing a multitude of social and economic ills. Sadly, these “track and trace” approaches suffer from a fundamental shortcoming: They authenticate the package, not its contents. A package of medicine is assumed to be genuine simply because it has a valid security mark. Unscrupulous manufacturers can readily circumvent such measures by putting the wrong stuff in the right package. And these approaches offer no help in detecting degradation.

I read this interesting article from my IEEE Spectrum subscription and I immediately correlated that with my recent experience of fake or substandard pills. The magnitude of the problem is humongous. Diabetic medicines that are not effective, to cancer cells that are not killed completely and eventually escape to proliferate further and become out of control to seemingly innocuous infections that are treated not with adequate dose (MIC levels). Sometimes, it scares me to think a patient dying because he had inadequate dose of chemo, and who knows, the antibiotic resistant bugs have evolved due to human greed. It is a massive industry fraud and the entire supply chain is involved.

Fake Pills

In my experience, substandard medicines are not just common in developing and underdeveloped nations. Recently, I took my pills for evaluation to Walgreen’s, a major pharmacy retailer, to inform them that the medicine I got from them was not effective, that a similar pill from another brand was effective and that, another patient, who was given a pill with same but one quarter ingredient had matching size. They evaluated and informed that the manufacturer from China was discontinued. However, their tracking was impressive, there was a alpha numeric inscribed on the tablet, which was visible only with a lens. This Alpha numeric correlated with the source and manufacturer.

It’s no exaggeration to compare illicit medicines with the nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction we all fear. These WMDs, though, are largely aimed at people in poor countries who are already facing a multitude of social and economic ills. Sadly, these “track and trace” approaches suffer from a fundamental shortcoming: They authenticate the package, not its contents. A package of medicine is assumed to be genuine simply because it has a valid security mark. Unscrupulous manufacturers can readily circumvent such measures by putting the wrong stuff in the right package. And these approaches offer no help in detecting degradation.

When you purchase medicine at the drugstore, you assume that it’s what you think it is and that the active ingredient in the drug is present in the specified concentration. Unfortunately, your assumption might be all wrong. Counterfeit and substandard medicines have become widespread, particularly in low- and middle-income countries with weak regulatory systems. Indeed, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), one out of 10 medicines sold in developing countries should be considered “substandard.” Your drug could even be an outright fake.

Using a physical phenomenon called nuclear quadrupole resonance (NQR), you can test your pill and eat it, too. Nuclear quadrupole resonance requires an atomic nucleus with a nonspherical distribution of positive electric charge, which creates an electric quadrupole moment. The word quadrupole refers to the four electric poles that produce an equivalent nonspherical charge distribution when added to a set of spherically distributed charges. The electronic tester measures the NQR response of the sample at different frequencies. The resulting NQR spectrum is generated by energy transitions within the atomic nuclei of the chemical, providing a unique fingerprint for that compound. Nuclear quadrupole resonance is useful for testing specimens that are solids or powders, but not liquids. While that’s an obvious limitation, NQR has a lot of other things going for it. In particular, it’s insensitive to the presence of coatings or packaging materials. So it can be used to examine pills while they’re still in the bottle or blister pack. Indeed, it could be used to test an entire shipping carton of such bottles or packs, or a drum of powdered material. What’s more, the equipment could be built at low cost and would be amenable to miniaturization. And because NQR instrumentation relies on radio waves of relatively low frequency and power, it is inherently safe and could be used without special training. The prototype drug-­authentication device is portable, performs measurements automatically, and doesn’t require any special skills to operate. It could thus be used anywhere in the drug supply chain. It is estimated that such a device could be manufactured at a cost of about $100, which would, presumably, translate to a price for the end user of less than $1,000.

Credits –

The technology was invented at Nanoscape Research Laboratory Florida and Case Western University by Swarup Bhunia, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the former, and Soumyajit Mandal, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science works at the later, where he oversees the Integrated Circuits and Sensor Physics Lab. This article was published on August 21, 2019 in IEEE Spectrum and was accessed from my account. Excerpts are copied and credited.

https://spectrum.ieee.org/biomedical/devices/detecting-fake-pills-with-nuclear-quadrupole-resonance

Identifying Rapid Spread of Flesh Eating Infections

 

Thought of sharing this news since it may be a common occurrence if exposed to the bugs in hot swimming pool or any contaminated body of water with open wound.

A woman in her 70’s got flesh eating infection after a usual bruise and succumbed to her wounds. In medical parlance, this is called ‘Necrotizing Fasciitis’. Seemingly a small wound, the bacteria enter the body and start irreversible destruction of the soft tissues.

How do we identify and how to prevent?

The infection often spreads very quickly. Early symptoms of necrotizing fasciitis can include:

  • A red or swollen area of skin that spreads quickly
  • Severe pain, including pain beyond the area of the skin that is red or swollen
  • Fever
  • Ulcers, blisters, or black spots on the skin
  • Changes in the color of the skin
  • Pus or oozing from the infected area
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Diarrhea or nausea

How to spot necrotizing fasciitis early on? Watch for –

  • Changes in skin color
  • A rapidly spreading inflamed or swollen area of the skin
  • Severe pain, including pain beyond the area of the skin that is red or swollen, and
  • Fever

Who is prone to Flesh Eating Bacterial Disease? Those with weak immune system are more prone to this disease:

  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Scarring (cirrhosis) of the liver
  • Cancer

What to do if you suspect Necrotizing Fasciitis?

Clean wound with clean water, possible use soap and contact a medical facility to evaluate and manage. In my experience, Hydrogen Peroxide works great. Anytime, you have a cut bruise or bleed, washing with clean water and thereafter with peroxide, will remove all the dead tissues and bacteria.

https://www.cdc.gov/groupastrep/diseases-public/necrotizing-fasciitis.html

https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/01/health/flesh-eating-florida-woman-trnd/index.html

The Ailment – Part 1

Intelligence (and great analysis) is not leadership, that’s what we have in many leaders currently. We have intelligent self-serving folks, focused on themselves with no ability to risk their own popularity with outcome from a tough strategic decision. These folks are less connected with the root cause rather than the rhetoric and who think the rules don’t apply to them. They maintain and operate through a coterie and bunch of sycophants. Why should a coterie or follower, follow them if these leaders can’t provide them any benefit? That last word, ‘Benefit’ is important. Corrupt leaders know that they need to benefit their coterie, that’s why they encourage corrupt folks under them. It thus forms an ecosystem of corrupt, a self-serving politico-corrupt ecosystem. Thus a contagious bad apple effect percolates within the ecosystem they create.

This four point proposal was after a long reflection of the underlying dynamics of frustrations, prevalent at that time. It was a synthesis after a long deliberation and evaluation of several socially disadvantaged people not getting the benefits. Now, after 34-35 years, we see that ‘Akrosh’, that ‘Udrek’ that resentment so intense. May be something should have been done long back, on lines similar to what I proposed in 1985-86.

Not too long back, during the independence struggle, the leaders had the stature and commanded respect from their populace. Their character traits encompassed selfless, dedication and benevolent acts overarching all humanitarian pursuits, notwithstanding their religious, ethnic or regional affiliations. They had a collective vision and a dedication to drive towards that common shared common destiny. Masses respected, supported and followed these leaders. Remember, revolutions are borne out of the hungry stomach or incessant injustice. That hunger and or injustice was pervasive. Masses were looking for someone with those aforementioned qualities. These were not born, not charismatic, but they earned that respect through these traits.

Equality Versus Equity

Tienanmen were quashed because the economy and opportunities were booming. People have a certain level of tolerance (also called as resilience), to such inadequacies if they are busy with their lives. Over a period of time, social values degraded and that zest to lead fell to decadence. An element of that vacuum of dedicated leaders was filled in by leaders needing sycophants, because they were intrinsically weak, lacked that innate leadership quality and that organic connect with the masses. These leaders were intelligent though, and let me say, intelligence is not higher education. I have seen visionary leaders and able administrators who had a grasp of the state and benefited the masses.

Unfortunately, Rotten Apples are intelligent

Again, intelligence (and great analysis) is not leadership, that’s what we have in many leaders currently. We have intelligent and selfish folks who are self-serving, focused on themselves (with no ability to risk their popularity and voter outcome), less connected with the root cause rather than the rhetoric and who think the rules don’t apply to them. Why should a coterie or follower, follow them if it does not benefit? That last word is important, ‘Benefit’. Corrupt leaders know that that’s why they ignore corrupt folks under them. It thus forms an ecosystem where there is a hierarchy of corrupt, within a self-serving ecosystem. Thus a contagious bad apple effect percolates within the ecosystem they create.

This nurtures a system that becomes hollow and eroded inside. Gradually, it becomes a norm, culture, and way of life. We never realize how we landed in this state of despair. I am not very hopeful that any change of political party, banner or face will change anything. It is a system problem and they have to get aligned or be ejected, like an allergen or a thorn, out of the body. In a doctor’s parlance, incompatible organs get rejected. That’s what will happen if a different hue (party, banner or face) will try to do.

An often asked question – can intelligence or education make a difference? The answer is obvious.  I definitely rue the state of Indian affairs. It’s Matrubhumi, a place for identity and despite, a place we, unfortunately, left behind, but our heartaches and it swells with pride when a rocket is launched or an extraordinary achievement is done.

I can write about the recent demonstrations against reservation (affirmative action), against aggravated nationalism, about religious intolerance, about the current generation as a legacy of our evolved culture. I find the current state in ruins but should we be hopeless? Definitely not and if you ask me, why? I don’t have a reason to justify (given the state of affairs) but I have a deep trust that India will rise. Time alone is an answer and that we are seeing events in time snapshot, like a frozen frame (in time).  That trust within us and that faith in those founding principles laid by the moldings from Sanatan dharma will see it rising like a sphinx. Time alone is an answer, probably you and I won’t survive to see that, but that will happen, not with dreamy eyes but a reality and of course, I am not making a prophecy so that also means we have to make concerted efforts in that direction.

That ‘WE’ of Nationhood

That WE are important (that I am very is very dilapidated in front of that WE). That WE include this huge diversity – of regions, religions, ideologies, aspirations, ethnicities, etc.). Exclusion is formidable and incompatible to us as a nation. Inclusion is our ethos and when we walk together, we make that WE and a great nation. The path is long but achievable and we are making those strides.

Change is imminent and change is required. We have to dismantle old models, reinvent ourselves and make gargantuan huge machinery that works in unison, completely in sync. Change to ‘reservation (affirmative actions)’, ‘radical ‘religious right-wing’ movement, innovation in farming, creating locally dispersed opportunities (and consequently, labor) are few things that need prioritization.

We are simultaneously beset with several cultural blocks. We lack a concerted national vision, and unfortunately, we don’t realize that our very existence is under that nation. Religion, ethnic, family, regional and language ties come later, after that national vision. Right now, it is reverse, we care for our compatriot even if she/he is corrupt or inapt, we care for our ethnic or religious group despite knowing those are on flawed grounds, so also, we struggle to oppose kinship. However, we hate a specific ethnic group. We have biases and prejudices and prototypes, and we call them Marwadis or Gujjus, etc. That rhetoric has continued to build over the last 70 years. We have to end this schism. That’s just one prejudice.

Affirmative Action – a palpable ailment

We also have to remember, collectively as a society, we have exploited a class or strata and it is our collective responsibility to undo that injustice. If affirmative action was inscribed in the constitution, it was envisioned to bring this huge swath of populace into the emerging sense of nationality. Those who haven’t been the beneficiaries of this action, often insist that affirmative action was planned for only a decade. I often rue, is a decade enough to roll back the changes that have been inflicted for centuries now? I strongly feel, though the vision was carved into the constitution, it was only more a vision and those visionaries lacked creativity in rolling out a plan to understand the dynamics of how it would unfurl over decades amongst the diverse growing masses.

In 1985-86, during college elections, I saw casteism for the first time. Medical College Student elections were contested on caste affiliations, they would call it packing. Like packs of caste based groups aligned to vote as en lot. We were the first batch to start Non-Casteist Panel (NCP before Sharadrao coined that term 🤓). However, I was fortunate to be closer to one of the sons of a prominent leader from socially disadvantaged class. He and I had open discussions on caste based reservations. I proposed that’s 1985-86, I proposed below items for changing the reservation. I cited his own example.

The Four Point Proposal –

  1. One reservation for graduation, one for the job.
  2. If you get the job/education without reservation, that credit can be saved for that individual, which he can enjoy anytime.
  3. Once a family is elevated with reservation benefits, they exhaust the benefits for the next generation.
  4. The reservation percent would stay the same, not decrease so that other layers within their society get the benefit.

This four-point proposal was a long reflection of the underlying dynamics and frustrations, prevalent at that time. These came as a synthesis after long deliberation and evaluation of several backward communities not being benefited despite a robust reservation program. Now, after 34-35 years, we see that ‘akrosh’, that ‘udrek’ that resent growing intense. May be something should have been done long back, on lines similar to what I proposed in 1985-86.

Today, we see an all pervasive, festering frustration. Millennia of new generations are born from whom opportunities are not alone deprived but we are creating a schism and a divide with our rigid reservation system Where is this heading?

tmg-facebook_social

The answers are unlikely to be simple, so also they are unlikely to be acceptable to all. That does not mean we leave those alone, untouched because reworking would land us in controversy. Irrespective of the current ruling regime – Congress, BJP, or any combination thereof, all have decided not to open this Pandora box. They are afraid, the bees would bite most to those who are closer to the reworking the problem. However, as time stands today – no political entity or character has the creativity, ability, capacity or vision to solve this festering problem.

Two moot points of learning from this national affirmative action program –

  1. Good intention is not enough, a leader needs to be a visionary to unravel such a deeply impactful program will unfurl over a period of time. Articulate and dynamic leaders are required to unleash and embed a program of such national importance.
  2. Such initiatives should be time-bound and change to understand, include and assimilate the diverse needs of times.

Except for good intent, both these characters were lacking when these reservations were made. Time and events can’t be undone, however, it is still time to make decisive actions and roll out changes that are commensurate with the needs of the current time.

—-

Updated on May 22, 2019

We are so incorrigible to the core that we hardly want to see a perspective beyond ours if in the process; we have to give away our benefits for the wider good. Such issues are not uncommon in advanced economies; however, they strive to find an innovative solution with a sincere intent to benefit those who are at the receiving end.

Citing a recent example from SAT, an exam conducted in the US for admission to colleges. Over a period, people have tried influencing and getting the best for their wards but the system has evolved and stopped those mutations.

You might have heard an example of how influential parents bribed their way into prestigious colleges. So also, those safeguarding and defining the system have modified it to provide a benefit to those students who struggle in adverse situations. This is similar to the picture I uploaded in my blog, wherein these new laws are implemented to create an equal playing field for those coming from an adverse situation.

They call it ‘Adversity Score’ and those students facing such disadvantage get additional scores to make these students stand on the same pedestals as those who are from an affluent background. This is worth reading.

Link below https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2019/05/17/students-need-more-than-an-sat-adversity-score-they-need-a-boost-in-wealth/?utm_campaign=Brookings%20Brief&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=72802588

While reservations have created another chasm in society by creating an artificial class of sufferers, such things can be mitigated by creating a mechanism similar to ‘Adversity Score’ for SAT. However, I am staying away from making any recommendation as it needs a thorough understanding of the root cause. It is upon those who strongly feel the need for a change of reservation system to evaluate and come up with an action plan.

http://bharatkalyan1.rssing.com/chan-6237423/all_p343.html

Why am I blogging on health and diet?

For most healthy living is having a balance between eating and exercise. Well, it goes beyond that one will eventually comprehend the importance of spirituality and expand the dimension of health. Suffice it to say that, the most elementary blocks of health starts with Diet and Exercise and this blog is focused on diet and exercise.

Because it is core and critical to our efforts and initiatives in life.

Generalizing from decades of observations, understanding the molecular mechanism that cascades the physiologic pathways, and adding an angle of a spiritual journey to our living, I too believe that the source is within us. We pamper ourselves with indulgence and defend it with reason. That in itself is a root cause for systemic illnesses such as for overweight/obesity, insomnia, hypertension, and diabetes (well in exceptional cases, we do have hereditary, genetic and developmental factors that contribute).

However, once these systemic maladies set in, it takes a long time to revert to the original baseline. Here again, we try indulging in radical results with resultant generalized impact. Liposuction, extreme diets, such as keto diets, etc. cause untoward effects on the body. Dependence on drugs such as antidiabetic or antihypertensives keeps increasing, partly because of tolerance and mostly because the root cause is not addressed.

Restoring health is a discipline, not a snapshot event in time. It needs a comprehensive multidimensional change. I know if I haven’t slept adequately how that affects my work. Some maladies have an evident outcome, others have a long-lasting impact. Let’s have that balanced perspective to dart towards achievements.

I am often reluctant towards opting for radical options such as surgery (with exception), so also I am against drugs/medicines.

Every life journey is unique, complicated by a confluence of conscious and subconscious flows, that we alone can decipher and discern. Those moments of reflection should ideally help in putting up a roadmap towards the restoration of health. While that is the permanent way, we can and should rely on drugs or other means, while transiting towards that phase.

However, jumping directly to radical options is ill-founded and deficient. A gradual incremental reversal, though difficult, can be achieved through consistent behavior with discipline. Well, it is easy to say but difficult to implement. However, that’s the test of your grit and determination, that we all are born with.

Welcome – Culture of ‘Forwarding’ messages! 

Forward is gradually getting deeply embedded within our social interaction. This isn’t an isolated phenomenon, this is gradually getting all pervasive and as part our inherent tendency to thoughtlessly contribute towards just not gossip, social malice but apathy and an agony to those affected. We were in the culture of rumor mongering but, now – welcome to the culture of forward instinct. It is a new norm, a new reality.

Barbaric not tribal instinct

I got a below message on our home owners community group. This is despite having created norms (we don’t call them rules) and governance. The intent of that group is to serve home owners that matters them directly. Below, please see the message. I removed personally identifiable information to protect privacy.

Barbaric not tribal 01

I knew it was fake but more so, I was concerned, why a message on kidney donation (from India) be seen in US. I contacted the number shared in the message and below is the reply from the gentleman, screenshot for your perusal. Can we call this barbaric? Definitely, this is not tribal. Tribal folks have better norms amongst themselves, so let’s call this criminal.

Barbaric not tribal 02

Is Due Diligence that difficult?

We need to do a little due diligence before indulging in public service of forwarding this message. Our forwards may be causing agony, trouble or harm to those who are directly affected. Even if those are mild, we are burning the bandwidth by taking away time from doing something concrete and productive.

Sometimes, I feel, our sense of social service is restricted to forwarding indiscriminately. We suddenly get that urge, that strong impulse –  to forward, may be “kisi ke to kaam ayega”. That forward relieves us of our impulsive instinct and provides a sense of having achieved something for social cause.

The Big Concern

With the volume of messages and our decrease bandwidth, just one instinct dominates, “forward”.  I feel, our amygdala is taking over our left frontal cortex, the part that is responsible for intellectual pursuit and decision making. There is another part that dominates the story. Normally, a part in our brain called amygdala, are responsible for flight or fight type emergency responses as well as our perception of fear. When Amygdala dominates Left Front brain, it is equivalent to ‘frontal lobe injury’. Some of these patients end up losing that decision making ability. Most concerning aspect for me is – , Are we getting rewired with these voluminous social media messages?

The Irresponsible within us

Our social media adds more and gives us less. The downside is social agony, malice, cognitive dissonance and pulls us back as those lacking sensitivity. We can’t blame social media, it starts with us. Absolute barbaric behavior such as stone lynching has been widely reported due to irresponsible messaging. We are being exploited and our opinion are molded and dominated by intentional messaging. One of the dominant reason for the recent rightwing political wave across the globe is capturing of intellectual pursuit. Sometimes back, I wrote a blog on this. It is still relevant, so I am sharing the link. https://wp.me/p7XEWW-Uc.

Request all not to forward without due diligence, even if that means good for the community.

Risk of West Nile is real

I was in the front yard on Sept 9, 2018 and I had severe bites from mosquitoes. I mustn’t be the lone person. After talking with several folks within the community, I realized, it is an area wide problem. After reviewing the mosquito control measures from the City of Irving, I realized, our area was treated on August 15, 2018. However, after talking with City official, on spraying again and having an integrated management plan (a dual plan where city and homeowners concurrently treat on multiple occasion), I was told by the City officer that the CDC has set limitations, unless West Nile or Zika is detected, they cannot treat again. My question was simple – Do you want to wait for a family member to fall sick and than start treating the area or do we want a prevention before it happens? I talked with Leroy MacFarland. Talks with Mr. Dickens, Ms. Adrian are in progress. I will keep you posted. 

 

Zika

Risk of West Nile is real

How can I say so confidently? The Mosquito menace is huge; Dallas County Health and Human Services detected a positive West Nile Virus sample on Rochelle Street (See picture and link from City below).

West Nile in Irving

What is West Nile?

Obviously, we heard a lot and many amongst you know it. However, to recap, here is an excerpt from Center for Disease Control (CDC) “There are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV in people. Fortunately, most people infected with WNV do not have symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms. About 1 out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness”.

You can reduce your risk of WNV by using insect repellent and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants to prevent mosquito bites. Please visit CDC on https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/symptoms/index.html to know more about West Nile and its health impact.

Fortunately, in most people, it is not dangerous, excerpts from CDC…”Most people  (8 out of 10) infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Most people with this type of West Nile virus disease recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months. About 1 in 150 people who are infected develop a severe illness affecting the central nervous system such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord)”. https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/symptoms/index.html.

What do we do?

Of course, if you have suspicion for West Nile symptoms, you should contact your healthcare provider.

How do we ‘Prevent’?

That’s the reason for taking this initiative. Mosquito control is dual responsibility –

  • Local Government and the
  • Home Owners.

An integrated Mosquito prevention program is required for controlling mosquito menace. While City is doing its own rounds of fogging and environmental control, we as Homeowners have singular responsibility. We need interventions inside our home where City has no jurisdiction.

Both these activities have to be coordinated. We need the fogging program to happen in tandem. That means, while the city is treating your area, we need to simultaneously treat our yards. City alone cannot, individual home owners cannot do anything. It will recur.

How do we identify the problem?

In my view, generally, apartment complexes can be ruled out as a source since there are strict compliances. So I will focus on individual home owners and any property which falls within the purview of City.

Is your area covered?

The City has posted a schedule for the area. Zip code 75063 has been sprayed on August 15, 2018. Picture below.

75063 Spray on August 15

Has the city done enough?

Please check the map for the zip code affected the intervention from the city. Zip code 75063 was treated on August 15, 2018. Please see map here.

Can we call it enough?

Obviously NO.

Why?

  1. Please ask yourself if you can play or be outside at dusk time for 10-15 minutes without a mosquito bit.
  2. It takes several rounds to kill the live mosquitoes and their larvae are in different stages of breeding. If the intervention targets all the stages, it still needs multiple rounds of sprays.
  3. Even if your area is cleared, mosquitoes from distant areas may migrate into your areas. So you have to treat multiple times.

Can we blame City?

Yes and No

Why No?

Because if we haven’t done our part, we will see a persistence of the mosquito problem.

What action is required from me as a Home Owner?

We want ALL of us to treat the problem simultaneously with same intensity. That means, even if you have no problem in your yard, we want you to treat your yard.

When?

Along with other Homeowners and the while the city is doing mosquito intervention.

What do we need from you?

This is not a mandate, a voluntary initiative. We need few folks from each lane to identify the risk for individual homes. Once identified, those homeowners should aggressively treat their yards. One treatment is not enough, multiple rounds are required.

What are the other Mosquito borne illnesses?

West Nile is not alone. The list is long –

  • Zika
  • Malaria
  • Chikunguniya
  • Equine Encephalitis (Eastern and Western)
  • Dengue
  • St. Louis Encephalitis
  • Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV)
  • La Crosse Encephalitis (LACV)

Do we have Zika, Malaria or Chikungunya identified in our area?

Please call City of Irving or Dallas County.

Remember, the risk is real. We all have to act now.

Read the links below for additional information.

Irving Mosquito Control Program – https://www.cityofirving.org/816/Mosquito-Control-Program)

Irving area with proven positive West Nile Virus sample – https://www.cityofirving.org/DocumentCenter/View/25998/S13—RutgersLasalle-PDF
CDC Prevent Mosquito Bites https://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/prevent-mosquito-bites.html

CDC Mosquito control – https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/vectorcontrol/index.html

West Nile Prevention from CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/prevention/index.html

Integrated Mosquito Management –  https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/vectorcontrol/integrated_mosquito_management.html

Zika Virus Infographics https://www.cdc.gov/zika/comm-resources/infographics.html

TOP 5 THINGS EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT – ZIKA https://www.cdc.gov/zika/pdfs/Top5.pdf