What Makes Us Itch

Scientists may have put their finger on what makes us itch – they’ve pinpointed a chemical that tells the brain about the maddening sensation.

Without it, there’s no impulse to itch – and therefore no scratching.

The breakthrough by the U.S. government’s health research arm offers hope of new treatments for conditions that cause severe itching, including eczema.

Others that could benefit range from cancer patients to people on kidney dialysis.

The team from the National Institutes of Health in Maryland tested a range of chemicals that carry information to the brain to find out which were essential to the perception of itchiness.

This led them to a key compound called Npbb – and they showed that mice that can’t make it don’t itch.

Lead author Santosh Mishra said: ‘When we exposed Npbb-deficient mice to several itch-inducing substances, it was amazing to watch.

‘Nothing happened. The mice wouldn’t scratch.’

However, if the creatures were injected with Npbb they started to scratch.

Further research established the chemical as an essential first step in the process that transmits information about itchiness to the brain.

The breakthrough offers hope of new treatments for conditions that cause severe itching, including eczema
The researchers say that it is likely same process occurs in people, raising new hope of better treatments for those who are plagued by conditions that make the skin unbearably itchy.

Likely beneficiaries include eczema sufferers, as well as diabetics and liver patients, who are often overcome with the need to scratch.


Kidney dialysis patients can suffer severe itching, while some cancer patients find their painkillers irritate their skin to such an extent that they have no option but to cut back on the medication.

In addition, the damage done by constant scratching can lead to infections in patients who are already very ill.

However, with Nppb also having other important roles in the body, it wouldn’t be safe to simply create a drug that stops it from working.

Researcher Dr Mark Hoon said: ‘The challenge is to find similar biocircuitry in people, evaluate what’s there and identify molecules that can be targeted to turn off chronic itch without causing unwanted side-effects.

‘So this is a start, not a finish.’

Previous research has shown why it feels so good to dispatch an itch.

Brain scans revealed that scratching numbs the part of the brain linked to unpleasant thoughts and memories.

It also ramps up activity in regions linked to compulsion – perhaps explaining why we sometimes can’t help but scratch and scratch and scratch.

Attribution: Fiona Macrae, Mail Online

Cheaper is Sometimes Better

Target’s own-brand sunscreen costing under $7, has been ranked number one in a study investigating the most effective sun protection products on the market.

Researchers from the ratings site Consumer Reports tested 12 popular SPF lotions on their ability to block harmful ultraviolet radiation, considered the main cause of skin cancer.

Target’s spray-on Up & Up Sport SPF 50 priced at $6.94, scored 80 out of 100 beating pricier, better-known brands such as Hawaiian Tropic, Neutrogena and Coppertone.

Health advice: Target's own-brand sunscreen costing less than $7, fared the best in a study investigating the top sun protection products on the market
 Target’s own-brand sunscreen costing less than $7, fared the best in a study investigating the top sun protection products on the market

Dr Ellen Marmur, a dermatologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, told Today that consumers should ‘save’ their money and realize that price doesn’t always mean better quality.

Another of the cheaper options, Walmart’s Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50, $7.50, came in second place with 77 points. 

Right behind it with a rating of 75, was Coppertone’s Water Babies SPF 50 at $11.

Walgreens Continuous Spray Sport SPF 50, $8, Hawaiian Tropic’s Sheer Touch, SPF 30, $11, and
Coppertone’s Sport High Performance, SPF 30, $10, were other recommended buys.

 Target’s spray-on SPF 50 priced at $6.94, came top place in the ‘top sunscreen’ study (below) while Walmart’s Equate SPF 50 (above), $7.50, scored second place

Nicole Sarrubbo, from Consumer Reports magazine, explained: ‘We found six that are really good at protecting against UVA and UVB rays, and they’re at a very affordable price.’

Sunscreens that scored the lowest in human and lab tests were from the likes of California Baby, Neutrogena, Kiss My Face.and Badger.

Consumer Reports’ study also found that many products actually offered less protection than advertised.



  1. Target: Up & Up Sport SPF 50, $6.94
  2. Walmart: Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50, $7.50
  3. Coppertone: Water Babies SPF 50, $11
  4. Walgreens: Continuous Spray Sport SPF 50, $8
  5. Hawaiian Tropic: Sheer Touch SPF 30, $11
  6. Coppertone: Sport High Performance SPF 30, $10

Source: Consumer Reports

A lack of protection can cause sunburn, premature aging and also contribute to melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer.

It was suggested that new labeling and test requirements from the Food and Drug Administration, which came into play last year, could have led sunscreen makers to ‘tweak’ ingredients.

However manufacturers insisted they hadn’t changed formulations since previous tests and their sunscreens are tested by third-party labs to ensure that they meet or exceed FDA guidelines.

In their conclusion Consumer Reports advised consumers to look for lotions or sprays that offer ‘broad-spectrum protection’ and have a claimed SPF of at least 40. These should be rubbed on 15 to 30 minutes before heading into the sun and reapplied every two hours.

Some doctors say that sunscreens with ultra-high SPFs do not offer better protection. Dr Marmur added: ‘I tell my patients SPF over 50 is useless. Stick with the 30 to 50.’

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. with an estimated 76,600 cases expected in 2013.

Attribution: Sadie Whitelocks, Mail Online

The Squishy Kimberley Strassel

by: the Common Constitutionalist


As far as conservative newspapers go, there are very few. The most recognizable being IBD, the Washington Times, the New York Post (at times) and of course, the Wall Street Journal.

While I agree for the most part, I challenge those who trust the Wall Street Journal to be conservative. In my opinion it only masquerades as a conservative newspaper.

Case in point: A recent article penned on May 2 by Kimberly Strassel entitled, “About Those Conservative ‘Squishes’”. In it she tows the typical Republican line. You know, the faux-conservative Karl Rove, Bill Kristol republican line.

She began the article with: “Texas Sen. Ted Cruz recently gave a speech to some FreedomWorks activists, delivering a fascinating retelling of the Senate-it gun control fight. After taking credit for killing the bill with his filibuster threat, Mr. Cruz went on to divide the Republican caucus between those who have ‘principles’ and those who are a bunch of ‘squishes’.”

FreedomWorks activists eh? Not a group of FreedomWorks patriots; no, activists. I also enjoyed the implication that Ted Cruz is nothing but a glory hound.

She continued with: “… The GOP is split between those who insist on making a point, and those who want to make some progress.”

Although I am not, I could stop here as she reveals her hand in one word: “progress”. The watchword of both Republican and Democrat big government Statists.

She claimed that Cruz, Rand Paul and Mike Lee screwed up the perfect storm of Obama’s failed gun control bill. She, of course, was all about the Republican win. No mention of preserving the Second Amendment. It’s all about the party.

And not a word regarding the left’s ultimate strategy, assuming she even knows it. What was supposed to happen was the Bill was to sail through the “squishy” Senate and get soundly defeated in the Republican-controlled House, giving Obama and his minions the issue they can hammer into 2014. The strategy was, that if the bill was approved, it would further their gun confiscation agenda. If it was defeated, they have an issue for 2014.

Strassel said the Cruz “faction” wanted to make a point that the GOP believed in the Constitution. He’s right and what’s sad is that there seems to be but a few senators standing up for the document.

She went on to describe how the House was on the verge of scoring a political victory over the Democrats on some minor funding for Obamacare insurance exchanges. (Yes I know, it’s $5 billion, but that’s minor for Obamacare.) Wow, the Republicans would force the Dems to choose between sick people and some money. Big win!

She then explained that if not for the Cruz “absolutionists” the reasonable Republicans could’ve force the Dems to kill off a tiny portion of Obamacare. Cruz and his buddies, she claims, insist on full repeal or nothing. Oh the nerve of them.

Does Ms. Strassel fail to realize that trimming around the edges of Obamacare is utter futility? Sen. Cruz and his few allies along with Heritage and the Club for Growth seem to be the only ones in Washington that know or care of the devastation that is Obamacare.

She then points out that, “the majority of Republicans are ardent supporters of the second amendment, passionate about repealing Obamacare, in favor of lower taxes.” Tells you a lot that she has to point it out!

“Yet”, she states, “disagree with Mr. Cruz on his filibuster strategy and you are a ‘squish’.”

Well, Ms. Strassel, Ted Cruz is the upstart you make him out to be. He and a few other relative newcomers have so far been uncorrupted by the DC moderate “Squishes”, and the big government Republicans don’t know how to contain them and that, no doubt, is quite frustrating.

So since the moderates can contain these rebels, they run to the so-called conservative press to do their dirty work.

It appears to me at least that the inside the Beltway Republicans think, as do the leftists, that these conservative rabble-rousers are the biggest threat to our country and certainly to their power. Bigger than joblessness, the debt, taxes, Obamacare and terrorism.

If they could just get rid of, or turn, those uncompromising conservatives, Washington would run like the well oiled machine we all know it to be. (Kinda choked on that one).

Are We Fat or Hungry?

by: the Common Constitutionalist


The other day I heard a commercial as I was listening to the radio. It’s aired quite often, so I didn’t pay much mind to it. The ad pertained to obesity. Something about the large percentage of children that are overweight.

It’s an epidemic, they say. “They”, being the so-called experts. Experts like, say… Michael Bloomberg or Moochelle Obama.

Well, I had heard public service announcements like these thousands of times. They are always the same. They don’t ask for anyone to donate time or money to the cause; they just seek to “inform” us morons that our children are all whales.

Here’s the kicker. About an hour later, on the same radio station, I heard another “public service” ad. No, it wasn’t another announcement of how fat our children are. This one was on childhood hunger.

It explained that too many children are going to bed hungry. Evidently, it too is an epidemic.

Okay, I thought, what the heck! I literally laughed out loud at hearing it.

My next thought was of the management at the radio station and how they must not monitor the stuff. Why would they? I’m sure these PSA’s help pay the bills.

Now, I can’t be the only one that hears these ads and sees the irony. It’s comedy gold.

So which one is it? Are our kids big fat Gila monsters or are they starving little waifs like Oliver twist? “Please, sir, may I have some more?” (The previous statement has more impact when said with an English accent. Just a tip.)

Is it possible that these two epidemics are occurring simultaneously? Like we see in films depicting medieval England  – where the Royals are behind the gates gorging themselves and the serf class are dying in the streets, eating dirt sandwiches, without the bread.

I decided to go online and watch a few ads and read some reports on both hunger and obesity in America. A few of the hunger ads are as follows:

One report claims that one in five in the U.S. is struggling with hunger. Of course the ads focused on “the children”. Another claimed that: “when a government and a model focuses on the well-being of its people, obviously it’s children would be a priority, but unfortunately the United States is not a country with that kind of model.”

George Snufullupigus of ABC news reported that one in six Americans and one in four children start their day not knowing if they will have the food they need.

A feeding America ad, with the help of some Hollywood stars, asked if someone could tell the hungry where their next meal would come from?

Okay, I get it. There’s hunger in America and its epidemic.

But at the same time other experts are telling us that obesity is becoming the number one health problem in America. And of course, as with the hungry, it’s all about “the children”.

Michelle Obama claims obesity is one of the most serious threats to a child’s future. She also claims it is an epidemic. (yeah, it’s a distant number two to her husband’s policies.)

One study estimated that adolescents visit fast food restaurants approximately twice a week.

The Children’s Defense Fund claims that nearly one in three children in America are overweight or obese.

Okay, enough is enough. So I ask again, which is it? There is no way that one in four children can be hungry and one in three are big fatties.

Maybe it’s that the children are so fat they are just always hungry. Or maybe it’s that both these highly exaggerated and exploitive claims are a crock.

As it is with most of  lefty causes, these ads and reports are intended to do but one thing. That is to guilt people into charging the government to further control our behavior.


Even Unions Hate Obamacare

Health Care Politics: As ObamaCare rolls out, some of its  biggest backers from labor to D.C. lawmakers are having second thoughts. It’s a  sign that the idea of ending this national nightmare isn’t about to go away.

Late last week, the 22,000-member United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and  Allied Workers dropped a bombshell on the Obama administration, not only  withdrawing its support for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but  also demanding its repeal.

The reason: ObamaCare subsidizes low-paid non-union workers in small  companies that don’t insure their employees, while leaving union shops with  ObamaCare’s higher health care costs and a 40% tax on Cadillac plans by 2018.  That’s a “death warrant” for unions, as the Atlantic’s Megan McArdle noted.

“These provisions jeopardize our multiemployer health plans, have the  potential to cause a loss of work for our members, create an unfair bidding  advantage for those contractors who do not provide health coverage to their  workers and, in the worst case, may cause our members and their families to lose  the benefits they currently enjoy as participants in multiemployer health  plans,” said union President Kinsey Robinson.

It’s the latest shoe to drop in the Great Buyers’ Remorse of ObamaCare’s  biggest backers.

The call from the roofers was hardly the first shot fired on this terrible  piece of legislation.

Last January, Sheet Metal Worker Local 85 in Atlanta asked for new subsidies  for lower-paid union members.

Continue Reading