Friday, July 31, 2009

Be very afraid

July 31, 2009

Ads Follow Web Users, and Get More Personal


For all the concern and uproar over online privacy, marketers and data companies have always known much more about consumers’ offline lives, like income, credit score, home ownership, even what car they drive and whether they have a hunting license. Recently, some of these companies have started connecting this mountain of information to consumers’ browsers.

The result is a sea change in the way consumers encounter the Web. Not only will people see customized advertising, they will see different versions of Web sites from other consumers and even receive different discount offers while shopping — all based on information from their offline history. Two women in adjoining offices could go to the same cosmetic site, but one might see a $300 Missoni perfume, the other the house-brand lipstick on sale for $2.

The technology that makes the connection is nothing new — it is a tiny piece of code called a cookie that is placed on a hard drive. But the information it holds is. And it is all done invisibly.

“Now, you’re traveling the Internet with a cookie that indicates you’re this type of consumer: age group X, income level, urban versus rural, presence of children in the household,” said Trey Barrett, a product leader at Acxiom, one of the companies offering this linking to marketers.

Advertisers and marketers say this specificity is useful, taking out the guesswork involved in online-only profiling, and showing products to the people most likely to be interested. Retailers including Gap and Victoria’s Secret are using this tactic.

But consumer advocates say such unseen tracking is troubling. On the old Internet, nobody knew you were a dog. On the new targeted Internet, they now know what kind of dog you are, your favorite leash color, the last time you had fleas and the date you were neutered.

“The industry’s love affair with persistent cookies has made it virtually impossible for users to go online without being tracked and profiled,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, in an e-mail message.

While Congress has been holding hearings on online privacy lately, the sessions have focused on online behavioral targeting. The industry has argued that no government intervention is needed, an argument that the Federal Trade Commission has so far accepted.

Consumers can avoid cookie-based tracking by deleting cookies from their computers or setting their browsers not to accept cookies. But few do, and privacy advocates say it is easy for companies to add cookies without users noticing.

For decades, data companies like Experian and Acxiom have compiled reams of information on every American: Acxiom estimates it has 1,500 pieces of data on every American, based on information from warranty cards, bridal and birth registries, magazine subscriptions, public records and even dog registrations with the American Kennel Club.

Patrick Williams, the publisher of the personal finance magazine Worth, recently asked Acxiom to find the names and addresses of 10,000 Americans from each of 11 cities who had houses worth more than $1 million, net worth of over $2 million, lived within a few miles of other rich people and subscribed to business publications.

“They are the scariest data research company around — they know far too much,” said Mr. Williams, who said he was very happy with the amount of information it gave him.

Companies like Acxiom and a competitor, Datran Media, make the connection between online and offline data when a person registers on a Web site or clicks through on an e-mail message from a marketer.

Datran’s cookies include 50 to 100 pieces of information. Both companies say cookie data is anonymous and generalized. Datran and Acxiom then sell advertising on Web sites like, Facebook and Yahoo to companies that use their data.

For marketers, all this data is a boon. Beltone New England, a hearing-aid company, asked Datran to find people online who were 65 and over, owned a house, were head of a household, made more than $35,000 a year and lived in New England so it could show them ads. Datran also tested the same ads with a wider group of people.

“What was surprising was we found the majority of responders turned out to be women 35 to 40 who had elderly parents at home,” said Perry Ebel, Beltone’s director of marketing and business development. He said he was changing his offline marketing to include that group.

By using real-world data online, marketers can customize messages even further — showing different products to people with different shopping habits, whether it is in ads, an e-mail message or in semipersonalized Web pages.

Rodale, which publishes books along with magazines like Men’s Health and Prevention, uses Acxiom data to help determine which promotional e-mails to send to which customers. Offers aimed at women might be accompanied by an e-mail message offering a Father’s Day subscription to Men’s Health for him and a free book on losing belly fat for her. Young men might get another offer — a book on sex positions. Some marketers are using offline data more subtly — for example, showing a budget shopper a discount offer and a regular shopper a full-price section.

“The people who buy less frequently and are most price-conscious may get a better deal than someone who buys more frequently, who would buy anyway,” said Christopher S. Marriott, global managing director of Acxiom Digital, a division of Acxiom.

Of course, shoppers would have little reason to think their experience or their ads are being personalized based on their home value or Volvo ownership.

“It is a little Big Brother-ish,” said Betsy Coggswell, 49, a social worker in Fullerton, Calif., who shops online regularly. Still, she said, she wasn’t shocked. “Every time you put out information about yourself — people have got to understand — it’s going to be collected by somebody.”

Some online companies avoid matching online and offline profiles. In 2000, DoubleClick abandoned plans to connect online and offline data after a huge outcry. Google, which later acquired DoubleClick, has been conducting studies that connect the two areas, but it does not currently collect or serve ads based on such personal information without user permission, Sandra Heikkinen, a Google spokeswoman, said.

While Acxiom, Datran and some of their partners address their use of tracking in their privacy policies, such policies have become worthless, Mr. Rotenberg said. “Real transparency means that the user gets access to the information, not to a policy about the information,” he said.

Paul M. Schwartz, a law professor and privacy expert at the law school of the University of California, Berkeley, said the unwitting participation by consumers makes online marketing different from offline.

“Interactive media really gets into this creepy Orwellian thing, where it’s a record of our thoughts on the way to decision-making,” he said. “We’re like the data-input clerks now for the industry.”

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

Friday, March 20, 2009

Is it for real? Cholesterol screening in toddlers and statins from elementary school age?

You’ve no doubt heard the news that “Obese kids may be candidates for cholesterol drugs.” New clinical guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics call for cholesterol screening in children from age two; low-fat dairy from age one in all kids; and cholesterol-lowering drugs, namely statins, for children as young as eight. These clinical guidelines have generated considerable controversy. But there’s something you need to know.

The controversy is not a matter of differences in opinions over the scientific evidence. This is a matter of the scientific evidence versus opinions and agendas.

To best understand the lack of evidence, misinformation and cognitive disconnects in these guidelines, we’ll go directly to the guidelines themselves and the evidence the authors cite.

For the rest of the article by Susan Szware click here.

Dangers of Low Cholesterol? - So Why all the Statin Drugs?

Low cholesterol, as found in recent research, can be very dangerous to our health. So why aren't the doctors warning their patients about this danger? I hope not to believe that it is to promote the sale of statin drugs, but, at this point, I would not be surprised.

Scientists know that our brain is made up of at least half of cholesterol. Our bodies make cholesterol because it needs it to function, thinking included. So it would make sense to say that if you lower your cholesterol, or block off your body's ability to produce it, then it could greatly effect the way our brain functions.

OK, so the brain is in charge of the body right? The brain is up there giving instructions to tell our heart when to beat, our limbs when to move, our eyes to see, how to fight disease, etc, etc...and so how much sense would it make to deplete one of the main sources of energy that the brain consists of, that being cholesterol? This is confusing to me. It is confusing, not because my cholesterol is too low, but because statin drugs are being dispensed like candy to try to correct a problem that is, well, maybe not really a problem but perhaps something that is another one of those little "white coat" lies that keep you coming back.

Here is a link to an excellent article found on that should be read if you want to discover more about the truth about the danger of low cholesterol...

Dangers of Statin Drugs: What You Haven’t Been Told About Popular Cholesterol-Lowering Medicines
by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD

The above article covers many important points, the first being that...

  • Cholesterol lowering medications, deplete that body's ability to produce COQ10. It is safe to say that almost all heart patients are put on statin drugs and yet the heart simply cannot function when depleted of CoQ10. Perhaps this is the reason why there have been more heart related deaths and disease since the introduction of statin drugs.
  • Almost all tests with rodents and statins have caused cancer and that the manufacturers of statin drugs are aware that they suppress the immune system. Wow, this is really not good news.
  • Many studies have linked low cholesterol with depression and anxiety.
  • Studies were done to determine as to whether or not the use of statin drugs to reduce blood cholesterol levels had any effect on reducing plaque in the arteries. This belief that high blood cholesterol causes arterial plaque is as common as grass, but according to this research, at the end of the study there was no statistical difference in the progression of arterial calcified plaque betweeen those who took statin drugs and those who did not.
Well, these comments are just the highlights. Please read the article and decide for yourself on whether or not low cholesterol is bad for you.

Also, see this article from Dr. Mercola's site entitled Cholesterol is not the cause of Heart Disease .

This is not to say that we should all go out and eat cakes and cookies to raise or blood cholesterol, but as for me, I have been doing research on how to raise my cholesterol with raw nuts, and healthy oils. I will update you on how it's going in the future.

DISCLAIMER - The information on this Weblog is provided for educational and informational purposes only. I am not a doctor and I am not attempting to prescribe, treat, or recommend and in no way is the information contained on this site intended to be a substitute for a health care provider's consultation. The contents is based upon opinions of each respective author. The reader is encouraged to make their own health care decisions that can be based upon research and then partnering with their own health care professional. If you are ill please consult a qualified physician or appropriate health care provider

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cell Phone Danger

by Martin Röösli and Harry Rudin

As we become more and more keen on cell phones there remains the open question of what effect these cell phones have on our health and well being. Some recent work in Switzerland sheds some light on these issues.

Our dependence on and investment in cell phones rise steadily. The annual sale of cell phones is approaching 1 billion units. Is the result of all the accompanying electromagnetic radiation going to have an effect on our health? Almost everyone has heard some 'anecdotal evidence' where there have been some undesirable effects on people: headache, concentration problems, irritability, insomnia, etc. But, can anything be said on a scientific basis? Some recent research from Switzerland has shed some light on the subject. More light is needed and some is coming.

The topic is difficult in itself and made more difficult by the enormous financial interests involved. Ideally, in a cold, scientific experiment, one should find a group of humans, some of whom would be subjected to the electromagnetic radiation produced by cell phones and their base stations for several years and some of whom in the group would not be exposed. All of them would be blind to exposure and they would not differ in terms of other factors influencing their health. One could carefully measure their health status and their well being, distinguishing between those exposed and those not exposed. Obviously this has not been done nor will it be done in the future.

While much material has been published with the objective of shedding light on the problem, many of the published studies have serious methodological limitations - leading to doubts concerning their validity. Reference [1] summarizes studies on mobile phone radiation and health-related quality of life, concluding, "The results are contradictory and the greater part of these studies is not able to address the issue of causality between exposure and outcome."

One of the first studies dealing with radio frequency electromagnetic field exposure was about the shutdown of the Swiss Schwarzenburg short-wave radio transmitter. While this took place back in 1998, a recently published paper [2] reports of measurements in the change in the melatonin produced by 54 volunteers living in the vicinity. The measurements showed that in the week after the shutdown, sleep quality improved and melatonin excretion increased by 15 percent, on average. (Melatonin plays an important role in regulating sleep-wake cycles because its production is inhibited by light and permitted by darkness. Melatonin is sometimes prescribed when suffering from jetlag.) However, the shut down date was known to the study participants. Thus, the authors state that "blinding of exposure was not possible in this observational study and this may have affected the outcome measurements in a direct or indirect (psychological) way."

In September, 2003, the Dutch TNO Physics and Electronic Laboratory announced the results of a study. They wrote: "The present study contributes to the research on finding a relation between electromagnetic fields and brain functions." Further, "Exposure to GSM-900 or GSM-1800 electromagnetic fields had no effect on well-being in either experimental group. However, exposure to a UMTS-like signal resulted in a small, but statistically significant impairment of well-being. Interestingly this effect was not only observed in individuals with self-reported health complaints attributed to daily life EMF exposures but also in a reference group without such complaints. This effect was found after only about half an hour’s exposure to what, by everyday standards, was a relatively high environmental field strength (1 V/m). In practice, while individuals in the vicinity of operational UMTS antennas will be subject to continuous exposure, the field strengths in question will be lower." Thus, the transferability of the 'TNO'-results to normal day-to-day environmental exposure is questionable. [3]

There was considerable criticism of the circumstances of this study including that by its authors themselves. These authors and others recognized the need to make a more careful repeat of the study. However, one result of the TNO study was a temporary and partial moratorium on the construction of new base stations in Switzerland, pending a more thorough study.

A Swiss scientific consortium was formed to carry out such a more thorough study. It was performed by a group of scientists from the University of Zurich, the University of Bern, and from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. Several methodological improvements were implemented, including investigating a larger sample size and applying two different UMTS exposure levels, all yielding more robust results. The results were published on June 6, 2006. [4]

The effect of UMTS radiation found in the TNO study was not confirmed in the new Swiss study. It should be noted that the experiment had to do only with 45-minute UMTS-radiation exposure intervals (four of them separated by a period of one week) and radiation absorption in brain tissue was considerably smaller than during the use of a mobile phone. Thus, the authors concluded, "No conclusions can be drawn regarding short-term effects of cell phone exposure or the effects of long-term, base-station-like exposure on human health."[4] Nevertheless, several of the temporary and partial moratoria for the construction of new UMTS base stations in Switzerland were withdrawn, even though the question of long-term effects of UMTS radiation on humans remains open.

Meanwhile, the REFLEX study under Professor F. Adlkofer, was making measurements on isolated cells to see if these were effected by a high or low-frequency (power-line frequency) EMF (electro-magnetic field). Quoting from the report: "The main goal of the REFLEX project was to investigate the effects of EMF on single cells in vitro at the molecular level below the energy density reflected by the present safety levels."[5] The study showed that in certain human cell types there was indeed a significant increase in the number of single- and double-strand breaks in the DNA as a result of high [6] and extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields [5].

These results fascinated Professor Primo Schaer at the Center for Biomedicine at the University of Basel. In a talk at a meeting on June 29 of this year, organized by the Swiss Research Foundation for Mobile Communication, Professor Schaer gave a preliminary report on his own experiments which confirm the work in Vienna, showing that intermittent extremely low frequency fields can result in damage to DNA. At this point in time these research results are unpublished; but, when published, we will report on them here in ERCIM News. Professor Schaer emphasized that some DNA damages are repaired by the DNA repair mechanism. Thus, the observed genotoxic effects do not necessarily mean that EMF is carcinogenic for the human.

In conclusion, we now know that EMF does have some effects on humans and human cells. Since we still do not know what the effect is on our health and well-being, some degree of caution would seem to be called for.


[1] Seitz H., Stinner D., Eikmann T., Herr C., Röösli M.; Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS) and Subjective Health Complaints Associated with Electromagnetic Fields of Mobile Phone Communication: A literature review [of papers] published between 2000 and 2004.

Science of the Total Environment, 2005; 349 (1-3): 45-55.

[2] Altpeter, E.-S, Martin Röösli, M., Battaglia, M., Pfluger, D., Minder, C. and Abelin, T.;

Effect of Short-Wave (6-22 MHz) Magnetic Fields on Sleep Quality and Melatonin Cycle in Humans: The Schwarzenburg Shut-Down Study, Bioelectromagnetics,

Vo. 27, pp 142-150, 2006.

[3] Zwamborn, A.P.M., Vossen, S.H.J.A., van Leersum, B.J.A.M., Ouwens, M.A., Makel, W.N.; Effects of Global Communication System Radio-Frequency Fields on Well Being and Cognitive Functions of Human Subjects with and without Subjective Complaints. Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO).

FEL-03-C148, 2003.

[4] Regel S.J., Negovetic S., Röösli M., Berdiñas V., Schuderer J., Huss A., Lott U., Kuster N., Achermann P. ; UMTS Base Station Like Exposure, Well Being and Cognitive Performance. Environmental Health Perspectives 2006, 114 (8): 1270-1275 (

[5] Winker, R, Ivancsits, S., Pilger, A., Adlkofer, F. and Rudiger, H. W.

Chromosomal Damage in Human Diploid Fibroblasts by Intermittent Exposure to Extremely Low-Frequency Electromagnetic Fields, Mutation Research, Vol. 585, Issues 1-2, pp. 43-49, 1 August 2005,

[6] Diem E., Schwarz C., Adlkofer F., Jahn O., Rüdiger H.; Non-Thermal DNA Breakage by Mobile Phone Radiation (1800 MHz) in Human Fibroblasts and in Transformed GFSH-R17 Rat Granulosa Cells in Bitro. Mutation Research, Vol. 583, (2), pp. 178-183, 2005.


TNO follow up study:

EMF projects at the University of Bern:

Primos research group at the University of Basel:

Please contact:

Martin Röösli, University of Bern, Switzerland


Harry Rudin, Consultant, Switzerland



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March 30, 2008

Mobile phones 'more dangerous than smoking'

Brain expert warns of huge rise in tumours and calls on industry to take immediate steps to reduce radiation

Mobile phones could kill far more people than smoking or asbestos, a study by an award-winning cancer expert has concluded. He says people should avoid using them wherever possible and that governments and the mobile phone industry must take "immediate steps" to reduce exposure to their radiation.

The study, by Dr Vini Khurana, is the most devastating indictment yet published of the health risks.

It draws on growing evidence – exclusively reported in the IoS in October – that using handsets for 10 years or more can double the risk of brain cancer. Cancers take at least a decade to develop, invalidating official safety assurances based on earlier studies which included few, if any, people who had used the phones for that long.

Earlier this year, the French government warned against the use of mobile phones, especially by children. Germany also advises its people to minimise handset use, and the European Environment Agency has called for exposures to be reduced.

Professor Khurana – a top neurosurgeon who has received 14 awards over the past 16 years, has published more than three dozen scientific papers – reviewed more than 100 studies on the effects of mobile phones. He has put the results on a brain surgery website, and a paper based on the research is currently being peer-reviewed for publication in a scientific journal.

He admits that mobiles can save lives in emergencies, but concludes that "there is a significant and increasing body of evidence for a link between mobile phone usage and certain brain tumours". He believes this will be "definitively proven" in the next decade.

Noting that malignant brain tumours represent "a life-ending diagnosis", he adds: "We are currently experiencing a reactively unchecked and dangerous situation." He fears that "unless the industry and governments take immediate and decisive steps", the incidence of malignant brain tumours and associated death rate will be observed to rise globally within a decade from now, by which time it may be far too late to intervene medically.

"It is anticipated that this danger has far broader public health ramifications than asbestos and smoking," says Professor Khurana, who told the IoS his assessment is partly based on the fact that three billion people now use the phones worldwide, three times as many as smoke. Smoking kills some five million worldwide each year, and exposure to asbestos is responsible for as many deaths in Britain as road accidents.

Late last week, the Mobile Operators Association dismissed Khurana's study as "a selective discussion of scientific literature by one individual". It believes he "does not present a balanced analysis" of the published science, and "reaches opposite conclusions to the WHO and more than 30 other independent expert scientific reviews".

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Now that we have moved beyond the elections and America has made it's will known (yeah, like that could happen) and we are heading hell-bent toward a total collapse of society as we know it, I thought we could change topic a bit and take a look at another area of our lives we are being lead, like the sheep we seem to be, inexorably into a forced collapse of our health and wellbeing by the very people we trust with our very lives...

Doctors are the leading cause of death in the US

By Gary Null PhD, Carolyn Dean MD ND, Martin Feldman MD, Debora Rasio MD, Dorothy Smith PhD

A definitive review and close reading of medical peer-review journals, and government health statistics shows that American medicine frequently causes more harm than good. The number of people having in-hospital, adverse drug reactions (ADR) to prescribed medicine is 2.2 million. 1 Dr. Richard Besser, of the CDC, in 1995, said the number of unnecessary antibiotics prescribed annually for viral infections was 20 million. Dr. Besser, in 2003, now refers to tens of millions of unnecessary antibiotics. (Click here for rest of article)

Click here for more articles about 'doctors' brought to you by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger.

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for more articles about 'doctors' brought to you by Dr. Mercola .