Tag Archives: Violence

Between the world and Ta-Nehisi Coates – Every black mother should read…..

Between-the-World-and-Me-Random-House“Crazy”….is what people feel when their reality doesn’t match that of the masses. “Crazy” is what many black folks have been made to feel upon entering the wider American culture. In many parts of the US, whites make blacks look and feel crazy because of their denial of racism.

“Between the World & Me” is a new, non-toxic, natural antidepressant. A balm of words, concocted by a master pharmacist of the black experience, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Senior Editor at The Atlantic Monthly. Ta-Nehesi puts racism on a glass slide and puts the slide under a microscope that not only magnifies for dissection, the pathogen thereon,  but allows one to verify the feeling caused by that pathogen.

This is a book that every mother, actually every black person, should read. It helps gel those streams of hurt, embarrassment, anger, disgust, frustration, sadness, reactive paranoia and as he points out, fear, that roll constantly off black people’s backs. In more solid form, one can more closely examine them and then toss them away. Or one can examine them, identify them and set up preventive barriers.

Gangs are online & coming “tweetly” to your kids

In a January 24th, 2013 article in The Cutting Edge, Desmond Patton, a University of Michigan researcher on young African American men and gang culture,  we are made aware that gangs are using social media to make threats that sometimes result in homicide.  This is called “Internet banging.”

What his studies show
Patton says that it’s the assertive voice of urban youth as heard in hip-hop music, “it’s this identity, along with unemployment and poor educational opportunities, that fuels the behavior of some African-American men?
A slow, steady growth
 Twenty years ago, I was hearing that schools on the south side were being invaded during the day by gang members who climbed into classroom windows and pulled young boys out while teachers stood by helplessly. That was the beginning of my understanding of how pervasive the gang culture had become in Chicago.  That also seemed to be the beginning of the perfusion of drugs into middle class neighborhoods on the south side. It was the beginning of the destruction of a culture that had previously extended parenting rights to nearly every adult on the block. It was the slow and steady transformation of safe neighborhoods into a network of crack houses and turf wars.
The substitute baby sitter
Since then, gangs seem to have replaced family structure in their capacity to raise our young men. And they have raised them in the art of war – war against themselves – and one that can’t be won. The very essence of gang life is one that cannibalizes its’ young –our young. Where did the parents go? How might things have changed if our sons with learning problems and diminished self-esteem were properly diagnosed, adequately supported and helped to develop their innate strengths into employable skills?
Do you know where your child is?
Friends in Chicago note that parents are unable to be effective in challenging local gangs, but gang members are someone’s grandson, or cousin or classmate from elementary school. They come from somewhere. Most Chicago blacks are the grandchildren of the Great Migration of blacks from the South. People used to ask us, “Who are your people?” The answer was presumed to tell them something about our character. It’s been a long time since then and over that time we’ve become disconnected from our people. We have lost our attachment to values that were passed down – values that held our lives securely in the family web. A beehive of disenfranchised, disregarded young men have eaten away that web while we adults have become again the slaves of the economy.
Just soldiers in a battle for the neighborhood/economy?
As with the slavery (better understood as our manpower) that brought America to economic greathood, this new voluntary slavery leaves us without control of our children’s destiny – and therefore without control of our own destiny.  Only that’s not happening just through gang members crawling into school windows. Now gangs can extend their reach right into your home, through the Internet. What can you do?
To learn more about Desmond Patton’s research, check out these articles:
Patton, D., Woolley, M., & Hong, J. (in press). Community violence, student fear and low academic achievement: African American males in the critical transition to high school. Children and Youth Services Review. Patton, D., & Johnson, D. (2010).
Community violence and social capital: African-American students in the critical transition to high school. Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy. Patton, D., & Garbarino, J. (2009).
The hurting child inside the black man. In K. Vaughans & W. Spielberg (Eds.), The psychology of black boys and adolescents: Practical and applied psychology.
Share Article

No Amount of Alcohol is Safe

The 2014 World Cancer Report from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concludes that no amount of alcohol is safe.  This, despite the fact that consumers have come to believe in the concept of “Responsible drinking”.

Even Light Drinking Puts You at Risk
Most people think that a couple of drinks nightly are good for heart health and overall well being but that appears to be a misconception. While research shows that the more alcohol a person drinks, the higher the risks of cancer, even one glass a night, especially when combined with smoking, is associated with breast cancer, for example.

In a meta-analysis of 222 studies comprising 92,000 light drinkers and 60,000 nondrinkers with cancer, it was estimated that in 2004 worldwide, 5000 deaths from oropharyngeal cancer, 24,000 from esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and 5000 from breast cancer were attributable to light drinking. Light drinking was not associated with cancer of the colon-rectum, liver or larynx.

Trace the trail
Actually, due to the carcinogens in alcohol – some which are formed naturally in the process of creating alcohol – sites in the body which are more likely to develop cancer are exactly the sites that alcohol reaches first as it travels through the body. While hard liquor was most damaging to the esophagus where fine cilia are most sensitive to ethanol found in hard liquor, the further alcohol travels through the body, the less the effects.

Other cancers that were found to be directly caused by wine, beer and spirits, along with hard liquor are cancers of the: mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon-rectum, liver and female breast. A significant connection was found between alcohol consumption and pancreatic cancer.

Strong links have also been made between drinking and leukemia, multiple myeloma, and cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina and skin. Researchers note that fewer studies have looked at those connections. Dr. J. Rehm, the lead on the IACR study says, “For the cancers that have been identified as being causally (not casually) linked with alcohol, we are absolutely certain that alcohol causes these cancers.

Alcohol contains lots of carcinogens
Alcoholic beverages can contain at least 15 carcinogenic compounds, including acetaldehyde, acrylamide, aflatoxins, arsenic, benzene, cadmium, ethanol, ethyl carbamate, formaldehyde, and lead. Ethanol is the most important carcinogen in alcoholic beverages. How the body breaks down ethanol is determined by your genetic profile.

There are many other factors that determine how and whether alcohol leads to cancer in individuals. For example, in some people due to their genetic profile, the ethanol in alcohol interferes with their ability to obtain folate from their diet. In breast cancer, alcohol increases estrogen levels and overstimulates breast cells. It is also thought that alcohol may increase the absorption of carcinogens in cigarettes. Because of this smoking and drinking is considered “a particularly dangerous mix”.

Avoidance of cigarettes and alcohol could prevent up to 80% of oral cancer cases and 90% of laryngeal cancer cases.

The amount counts
When it comes to the notion of one glass with dinner being helpful to heart health, more is not better; in fact, more is dramatically worse. Heavy alcohol use causes hypertension, atrial fibrillation, ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, and nonischemic dilated cardiomyopathy.

This is a special concern for young drinkers where “binge-drinking” is popularized. The young more  frequently suffer the adverse consequences of acute intoxication (accidents, violence, and social problems). In fact, among males aged 15-59 years, alcohol abuse is the leading risk factor for premature death.

With what is known now about alcohol causing so many cancers, the question should be similar to that for lung cancer. When we hear of someone dying of lung cancer we almost automatically ask, “Did they smoke?” When we hear of someone getting breast cancer now, perhaps we should also ask, “Do they, or did they, drink?”

While this may be disheartening news for those of you who feel the work week was created so that you can hit the bars on the weekend, there are other options. Researchers have found that people respond well to knowledge about their risks and begin changing habits. One of the best options can be found in the other activity that many clubs provide: dancing. Great for the heart and great for the spirit. No alcohol required! Music alone is known to effect the brain and start the endorphins flowing (free, too!). Many alcohol screening tools are available. Behavior change and positive effects have been observed in adolescents, adults, older adults, and pregnant women following alcohol screening and brief interventions aimed at reducing alcohol intake.

While physicians were recommended to “Investigate new drugs that mimic the milder effects of alcohol”, we’ve heard of some things even closer and more natural to Mother Earth. No, not marijuana, but natural, non-addictive herbs that are not known to damage brain cells – herbs like lemon balm, chamomile, mint, etc. or herbal preparations like Perfect Calm or St. John’s Wort (Read up on combinations to avoid and don’t use if you are taking antidepressants,  psychotropic medications, etc. Be aware that in the same way that alcohol affects each person differently, so do herbs.) Check our posts for more articles on natural relaxants – coming up.

Rehm J, Shield K. Alcohol consumption. In: Stewart BW, Wild CB, eds. World Cancer Report 2014. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2014.

Lachenmeier DW, Przbylski MC, Rehm J. Comparative risk assessment of carcinogens in alcoholic beverages using the margin of exposure approach. Int J Cancer. 2012;131:E995-E1003. Abstract

Seitz HK, Becker P. Alcohol metabolism and cancer risk. Alcohol Res Health. 2007;30:38-41, 44-47.

Hamid A, Wani NA, Kaur J. New perspectives on folate transport in relation to alcoholism-induced folate malabsorption-association with epigenome stability and cancer development. FEBS J. 2009;276:2175-2191. Abstract

Al-Sader H, Abdul-Jabar H, Allawi Z, Haba Y. Alcohol and breast cancer: the mechanisms explained. J Clin Med Res. 2009;1:125-131.

O’Keefe JH, Bhatti SK, Bajwa A, DiNicolantonio JJ, Lavie CJ. Alcohol and cardiovascular health: the dose makes the poison…or the remedy. Mayo Clin Proc. 2014;89:382-393.

Chris Brown and Bipolar Disorder

The news is full of conjecture about Chris Brown and Bipolar Disorder. We have all been wondering about reported domestic abuse against ex-girlfriend Rihanna. Why would she have tolerated being hit? Did she have warning? Was she caught off guard? Had it been going on all along? So many questions that the public has. The issue of Bipolar Disorder, a disorder of mood control and probably also of perception, is one that affects more and more families. Chris Brown and Rihanna just bring it to the attention of the public. One might think they are alone in  dealing with bipolar blues but the media attention on Chris Brown’s difficulties lets  us know that’s hardly the case.

Actually, Lindsey Lohan, Justin Beiber,  Lamar Odom, Miley Cyrus and many more who we would think have great lives have put alcoholism, depression, bolar disorder, domestic abuse and other frequent mind health problems in the spotlight, where we can all learn.

Is Bipolar Disorder overly or inaccurately diagnosed?

In a September, 2013 article in The Mail Online, Bipolar Disorder was referred to as in “vogue”, a “fashionable mental health diagnosis”. A top UK psychiatrist, Dr. Joanna Moncrieff, wrote about the exponential increase in the range of symptoms described as “Bipolar symptoms ” and the liberal diagnosis of moderate mood swings as constituting this disorder. Years ago there would have been a great distinction made between moderate hormonal mood swings and the previously rarely diagnosed disorder called Bipolar Disorder. It is also noted that with the huge uptick in diagnosis there has been a record breaking surge in the prescription and sales of  antipsychotic drugs. Drugs that have very serious and in some cases, permanent negative effects are being prescribed as if they are aspirin.

What’s the root cause of the problem?

Since the source of these mood swings is not actually known in most cases and since the drugs do not cure these unknown causes, why are so many people being prescribed these drugs and why are so many people taking them without asking questions about the side effects, whether there are less harmful alternatives and whether their problems might not be treated by psychotherapy?

Using Vitamins to Reduce Angry Behavior in Black Children

 Reducing angry behavior with vitamins?

Fish oil from arctic fish might be your & your child's "bestest" friend. Odorless capsules now make it much easier to take. Seems like the old folks with their cod liver oil were truly wise.
Fish oil from arctic fish might be your & your child’s “bestest” friend. Odorless capsules now make it much easier to take. Seems like the old folks with their cod liver oil were truly wise.

Are children lacking the essential elements for a well nourished brain more susceptible to bad behavior?

A number of studies show a link between violent behavior in some individuals and their levels of DHA, an essential fatty acid.  EFAs, or essential fatty acids are required by the brain in order for it to function well.

The body does not manufacture its own EFAs and so we have to obtain them from the outside, from what we eat. One type, ALA, alpha linolenic acid, comes from vegetable sources like flax seed and walnuts and some vegetable oils. The body only  partially converts ALA into DHA and EPA. Fatty cold water fish provide a direct source of EPA and DHA, allowing more DHA to get into the body.

According to Dr. Frank Sacks, Professor of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Harvard University School of Public Health, Omega 3  fatty acids protect from heart attack and stroke as well as against autoimmune disorders and in building  the membranes of brain cells.

The ratio of EFA choices is important

The EFA that most Americans get a lot of is Omega – 6. It comes from animal (meat) sources.  Compared to our ancestors, we are getting between 16  times more Omega -6 for each serving of Omega-3 than we did before the last 50 years or before we began eating so much processed food. We are getting far less DHA or Omega- 3 that comes from fish oil or krill( non-fish plankton)  oil sources. It is the ratio of Omega- 3 to Omega – 6 levels that are important as well as the need to eat a moderate amount of each. A diet of  4  servings of Omega 3s to one serving of Omega 6 is considered ideal. So one would have 3 servings of cold water fish, and 2 or 3 servings of walnuts, flax seeds (1 or 2 tablespoons) or cold pressed organic vegetable oil each week. (See the Food section in the coming months for some super good ways to meet these brain needs.)

Low DHA levels were found in boys with impulsive behavior and later alcohol dependency

In observational studies done by Hibbeln et al. 1998a, 1998b it was suggested that low plasma DHA levels may increase the predisposition of some people to impulsive or violent behavior. This was seen especially in boys who become alcohol dependent before the age of 20. This suggest that they are probably attempting to self medicate with alcohol.

Raising DHA reduced stress levels

In another study done by Hamazaki et al. 1996, students taking DHA during periods of academic stress did not show the same rise in aggressive behavior exhibited by their peers who did not take DHA. This indicates that supplementing what the brain is missing to function normally and activate self control allows the body to calm itself naturally. Supplementation with omega-3 EFAs, vitamins and minerals were found to reduce violent behavior in prison populations by an average of 35% (Gesch et al. 2002). The results of this study and others which achieved similar results implies readily available solutions for communities where nutritional needs are not met and child behavior and learning are below potential.

High meat intake associated with violent behavior

A diet high in meat may cause an imbalance of essential fatty acids which are essential to brain health. Low levels of essential fatty acids (EFAs) are associated with a number of brain health problems such as depression, anxiety, dementia, multiple sclerosis (MS) and ADHD. In children low DHA levels are associated with ADD, ADHD, behavior problems, sleep problems and distractibility.  We can improve behavior and learning by supplementing our children’s diets with a high quality fish oil (wild arctic salmon or cod) supplement.

In supplementing with fish oils, care should be taken to obtain the highest quality fish oil supplement by looking for those that are free of toxins and made from wild caught Arctic fish. (See VitalChoice.org for more info or see our FooD section in the coming weeks.)

Share Article