Category Archives: Health and Social Issues
Tis the season to be jolly – and to ask for new shiny gadgets to replace the still newish, slightly less shiny doodas we already have. But how often do we really think about the impacts of our disposable culture?
Watch Annie Leonard’s clip on the story of electronics and take principled actions this holiday season.
I came across this video via Steve Harton’s Hartonline Bio website and clicked on it because of the Indonesia connection. I’m glad I did, though it made me quite angry.
Having spent most of the last eight years in Indonesia, I have long been concerned about the ubiquity of the tobacco industry and the all-pervasive nature of the advertising. Everything – literally everything – is sponsored by tobacco. From TV and movies to sports (!), some schools (!!) and music concerts. There is no escaping the message that smoking is cool, good for you and leads to an exciting life.
So how did it get this way when the developed world is shunning the dangers of smoking?
This 40-minute documentary by Vanguard puts it all in context. From the viral video sensation of Aldi the smoking baby, to the simple, ruthless economics of exploiting a developing country and targeting their children as an emerging market, the film-makers lay it out clearly and passionately. It focuses too on the work of an anti-smoking action group who face the huge challenge of taking on big tobacco in a country where so much depends on it – it’s a major cash crop and source of income.
This video is a YouTube upload, but there are clips and resources on the official Vanguard page.
I loved the bit where the Miss Indonesia contestants help the film-maker crash the World Tobacco Asia conference!
Some questions and thoughts to consider when watching the movie:
- Near the end of the movie, there is a quote from Warren Buffett: “I’ll tell you why I like the cigarette business. It costs a penny to make. Sell it for a dollar. It’s addictive. And there’s fantastic brand loyalty.” Although he has changed his stance on tobacco, it neatly illustrates the bottom-line ethos of business.
- As a publicly-owned company, your main responsibility is to the shareholder – you must maximise profits. Discuss the ethics of targeting children in emerging economies as a market.
- Accepted science states that tobacco is addictive and harmful to human health. Why then has this not been recognised by the Indonesian government?
The Guardian has a nice interactive gallery this week of some images taken inside the Fukushima clean-up operation. In the months since the Tōhoku earthquake, there have been published a wealth of very useful educational resources regarding nuclear power, radiation, earthquakes and tsunamis. Sadly too the internet has been inundated with rubbish. When we come to our Atomic Energy unit of inquiry in Grade 10, we will look at some of these and try to evaluate their usefulness.
For now, enjoy the pictures. If you want to learn more, the Guardian was pretty good with their coverage and their links are well worth following.
“Men sporting Movember moustaches, known as Mo Bros, become walking, talking billboards for the 30 days of November* and through their actions and words raise awareness by prompting private and public conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health.”
From the MoVember website.
*Actually, we’re doing Nov 10th – Dec 10th, due to the holiday and being a bit slow on the uptake.
So what’s it got to do with Biology?
Well, tumours – such as prostate and testicular cancer in men; breast, uterine, cervical and ovarian cancer in women; and cancer of everything else in everyone else – are simply the result of uncontrolled cell division. Through apoptosis (programmed cell death) or damage (necrosis), cells are destroyed. These need to be replaced with other cells. As our cells are eukaryotic, they need to go through mitosis to ensure that complete copies of all the chromosomes make it into both daughter cells.
As with other cell processes, this is controlled by genes and, importantly, terminated when the cells have grown appropriately. If there is a mutation or problem with a tumour-suppressor gene, such as TP53, the process of cell division is not stopped and the cells grow out of control. This is a tumour. Alternatively, mutations can affect other genes (oncogenes), which encourage further growth.
Tumours can start out benign – growths of cells that are not harmful. If these cells become malignant and invade other cells and damage tissues, this is known as cancer. Damage to other cells and tissues leads to illness and can be fatal if not treated early. As tumours grow, they can recruit blood vessels – called angiogenesis. Now you run the risk of metastasis – cells from the tumour breaking off, flowing through the blood and starting a new aggressive tumour in a different part of the body.
Environmental factors can encourage mutations in key cell-cycle-controlling genes. We all know, for example, that smoking can cause lung cancer, UV radiation can lead to skin cancer and the HPV virus can cause cervical cancer.
So why all the fuss about Movember?
Simply, men’s cancers receive less media attention and men tend to be less willing to talk openly about their health problems (unless, of course, they’re trying to get sympathy with a case of man-flu). As guys tend to put off going to the doctor and generally live a lifestyle that is higher-risk for cancer (high fat, high meat, alcohol, smoking, lack of exercise…), tumours can go unnoticed. Men are less likely to survive a cancer diagnosis than their more health-conscious lady friends.
Through cultivating the moustache, we can start conversations about these issues, raise money for education, prevention, research and treatment and promote anti-cancer behaviours:
- Healthy lifestyle choices and awareness of risk
- Self-checking and regular screening for at-risk groups
- Early diagnosis of and treatment for tumours, should they arise (animation)
So get mo-tivated and join the mo-alition of the willing. Take a mo-ment to think about cell division. And mo-an at the men in your life to make healthy choices. Ladies too can get involved – by becoming Mo-Sistas and also raising awareness. The BIS Team are called the BIS Upper Lips!
In the video above, he talks about how genome mapping can lead to giving an indicator of risk to men. Great technology, based on the Human Genome Project (link to 4.4 Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology).
Learn.Genetics@Utah awesome resources
And as always, click on the shadowed images in the presentations to be taken to source videos and animations.
Here are all the presentations for the Genetics topics.
More presentations after the jump…
The final topic for Standard Level!
For updated versions of this post (and more to do with drugs), please click here:
As usual, click on the shadowed images to see an animation.
Introduction to the nervous system
Loads of useful resources from Neuroscience for Kids
Reflex arc animation from msjensen.
Nerve impulses: resting potential and action potential
Cool tutorial from the Harvey Project
McGraw Hill nerve impulse animation
Nice and simple from mrothery
Another good one from Alberta Psychology
Propagation on myelinated and non-myelinated nerves from Blackwell Publishing
Great animation from McGraw Hill
Good tutorial from Harvard Outreach
Another WHS Freeman tutorial (lifewire)
The Endocrine System
Good visual introduction from Delmar Learning
Really good animation – lots of info – from e-learning for kids
Tutorial and game from think-bank
Detailed tutorial from the University of New South Wales
Homeostasis in Newfoundland from Memorial University
Another good Freeman tutorial
Blood Glucose and Diabetes
Almost there for standard levels – just two more little topics!
Here’s the Core presentation:
And here’s the one for Further Human Physiology:
Download it here: gas-exchange-fhp.ppt
And here’s the Click4Biology page
Gas exchange, oxygen dissociation and myoglobin:
Some useful tutorials from GetBodySmart
For a quick view of some basics, here is an animation from Wisconsin Online (though it’s not very good…)
Asthma and Lung Cancer (though we don’t need lung cancer any more):
What’s asthma all about? from whatsasthma.org
Asthma attack animation from 1on1health
Lung Cancer animation from Discovery’s Human Body Atlas
Mesothelioma (caused by asbestos) from MedIndia.com
Effects of pollution on your lungs from airinfonow.org
Some cool videos after the jump…
The Transport System (Core)
Click4Biology page here.
Higher Level Students:
Download here: transport-system.ppt
And here’s the Click4Biology link
The Cardiac Cycle:
Hyper Heart animation and graphs from the Chinese University of Hong Kong
Biointeractive from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Control of the Heart Beat:
A few good links to try from Washburn Rural High School
And don’t forget the Medmovie resource…
Atherosclerosis and Coronary Heart Disease:
Medmovie has good animations for atherosclerosis, heart attacks and heart bypass surgery. There aren’t many that are better…
Production of Tissue Fluid and Lymph:
Hydrostatic and osmotic pressure (fluid exchange) from McGraw Hill
For a good (tricky) prac, here’s a virtual EKG package from skillstat.com
And here’s a decent heart structure tutorial from Gateway Community College
And why not have a go at open heart surgery from abc.net.
This topic is Science at the moment, so let’s keep it as concise as possible. Some people go as far as studying a degree in all this, but that can wait for now!
Here’s the presentation for the IBDP Biology syllabus:
And now by topic:
Polymerase Chain Reaction
and of course, the ever-so-silly PCR Song
Gel Electrophoresis and DNA Profiling (or DNA Fingerprinting)
The Human Genome Project
Gene Transfer Technology
Genetic Modification in Crops and Animals
If this catches your imagination, dig deeper!
This resource from Toronto General Hospital’s Perioperative Interactive Education unit gives a good view of two sections through the heart, with ECG loops to match the image. Good for seeing the normal function of cardiac valves.
Updated and includes guide sheets, quizzes and a range of languages.