Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication

                                                            Interactive science series

Q: What is the CA 125 blood test?  

Krishna: CA 125 is a protein biomarker, that denotes a tumor. It is a substance that is found in greater concentration in tumor cells than in other cells of the body, in particular, CA 125 is present in greater concentration in ovarian cancer cells than in other cells. CA stands for cancer antigen. CA 125 is often measured as a blood test.

Blood levels of this protein can be increased in many different benign and malignant conditions, and an elevated level does not mean that you have cancer.

CA 125 is used most often to monitor patients with a known malignancy or as one of several tests of a patient suspected of having a tumour.

A number of benign conditions can cause elevations of the CA 125 level, including pregnancy, endomeriosis, uterine fibroids, pancreatitis , normal mestruation, pelvic inflammatory disease and liver cirrhosis. Malignancies of the uterine tubes, endometrium, lung, breast, pancreas and GI tract and lymphoma too have higher levels of CA 125.

Q: How can we know that we do indeed Know?  

Krishna: If we get our information from authentic sources, reliable and highly qualified experts, we can consider that we have acquired genuine knowledge and indeed know the facts.

In the field of science, we have several filters to make something genuine. we have some guidelines too to know whether we have the correct information or not …

How to trust science stories: A guide for common man

However, one has to thoroughly analyse the information we get and only if we find that our information is right, then we can assume that we indeed know something.

Shall I reveal a secret? While reading the answers given by people on the net, magazines etc., I check the qualifications of the person who is giving the answer. Only if I think the person is qualified to answer that Q, I consider it is okay to trust it. Even then, I try to verify the answers. And I found some answers ‘re old, unreliable -based on ancient knowledge and not on updated versions of the subject.

Even while reading something on the net or a book, I follow the same procedure.

If you use your knowledge and verification techniques, you will know whether you have the right information or not and whether you indeed know the facts or not.

Q: Is ayurveda real science?

Krishna: Ayurveda is ancient medical science. It was found when the scientific methodology was in a primitive state. Therefore, the methods tested were not up to the mark and cannot be accepted in modern day science.

However, some people are trying to re-test the medicines using modern technology. Until the safety of the medicines are established fully, it is better not to take these medicines. 

Q: How can anybody know whether we have alcohol in our body or not? 

Q: How can alcohol effect our brain?

Q: How can alcohol effect our body parts?

Krishna: Through tests! Saliva test reveals alcohol from one to five days, blood test up to 12 hours, urine test three to five days via Ethyl Gluconoride (EGT) metabolite, breathalyzer test up to 24 hours.

If you consume beer, when it reaches your stomach, absorption through the stomach lining and into the bloodstream occurs. (Only about one-third of the alcohol will be dispersed this way. The other two-thirds take another route. 

Stronger drinks are absorbed more quickly. This is due to the low volume of liquid but high volume of alcohol. Also, the amount of food in the stomach at the time can slow down or speed up the alcohol absorption rate. The more food that is present, the slower alcohol finds its way into the blood, at least from the stomach. Remember this only happens for one-third of the alcohol. The rest heads to the small intestine, where it will continually be absorbed into the blood through the walls of the intestine. Blood is the main transporter of alcohol. The journey of alcohol through your body has just begun.

the brain is the first organ to feel the effects of alcohol once it is fully absorbed into your bloodstream. There is physical contact between the brain and the alcohol; brain cells absorb alcohol through the blood barrier. However, the amount is extremely lower than how much was in your stomach and/or small intestine.

Your brain functions become increasingly impaired as your BAC grows. Three main areas of the brain are affected: the cerebral cortex, the limbic system, and the cerebellum. Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it slows the functions of the brain down.

All thoughts originate in the cerebral cortex and are processed into ideas, actions, etc. Once depressed by the alcohol, the following effects are felt: increased talkativeness, increased feelings of self-confidence, less inhibition, poor judgement, blurred vision, distorted hearing, and a higher tolerance to physical pain. All of this is because the alcohol is diminishing the brain’s ability to process information.

In the limbic system - the emotional and memory-making factory of the brain funny things happen. If you are intoxicated on alcohol, your emotions over take your behaviour.  Your inhibitions would go out of the window! You also may  forget what happened actually when you are intoxicated. . This is because of the depression of the limbic system. Emotional balance restores itself without incident once alcohol wears off, but with memory the case is not the same. In fact, aside from blacking out, studies show alcohol can damage the brain's ability to create new memories. Long-term alcoholism can lead to a form of amnesia called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.

Cerebellum is the muscle-movement coordination section of the brain. Feeling off-balance and having difficulty walking straight happen when alcohol depresses the cerebellum. Research shows that the cerebellum may also contribute to the function of verbal learning, word production, solving problems, and planning. According to this research, “cerebellar degeneration is common in alcoholics,” and “cell death may cause permanent loss of function". Alcohol may damage the brain worse than we thought.

Effect of alcohol on heart and vascular system: The heart does not receive any physical alcohol. However, the effects of alcohol has on the heart are strong. Among many things, alcohol is a ‘vasodilator,’ which means it causes the body’s blood vessels to dilate. This means more blood is flowing through the body, but lowers blood pressure overall. Therefore, to make up for any possible lack of blood flow, the heartbeat increases. 

Excessive drinking can cause something called atrial fibrillation, (known more as AFib), which consists of an irregular heartbeat and can lead to blood clotting, stroke, heart failure, and/or other heart conditions.

Kidneys: Kidneys filter blood. Because the alcohol is in your blood once absorption took place,  the next actual physical stop on alcoholic journey is our pair of kidneys. Here, waste is separated from useful nutrients and proteins. The alcohol is processed through the kidneys and then stays in the bloodstream .

The secondary function of your kidneys is to balance the amount of water in your system. Alcohol affects the kidney’s ability to do this. This is because alcohol is a ‘diuretic,’ again, among many other things. Diuretics increase the amount of urine inside of the body. (This, combined with the increased heart rate alcohol causes, is why exercise while drinking is never recommended).

Because urine is mostly water, and alcohol makes you pee a lot, dehydration is a very likely occurrence when drinking. Dry mouth, headache, nausea, fatigue, and that nasty hangover in the morning can call be caused by this dehydration that starts in the kidneys.

The reason you have to urinate often while drinking is because alcohol slows the production of vasopressin, a hormone in the kidneys that reabsorbs water which would otherwise end up in the bladder. A normal amount of vasopressin ensures that the water going to the bladder is useless to the body, waste. When alcohol diminishes vasopressin, the bladder fills with the water from the beer.

Also, when drinking, a higher ethyl glucuronide (EtG) level will be present in urine. EtG is a substance produced when alcohol has been metabolized. This, along with trace amounts of alcohol excreted through urine (less than 10% of total alcohol consumed), is why urinalysis tests can determine whether or not someone has consumed alcohol, usually within the last 48 hours.

Liver: The rest of the alcohol left in your system is broken down inside the liver. This breaking-down process is known as metabolizing. The vast majority of alcohol exits the body via metabolism in the liver. Once alcohol is fully metabolized, what remains is a chemical called acetaldehyde, which is a toxin. The body rids of acetaldehyde by further metabolizing it to carbon dioxide and water (exhalation and sweat/urination).

Acetaldehyde damages liver cells and can cause scarring inside the liver. Because the body recognizes acetaldehyde as dangerous, the body wants to burn it and use it as fuel. Once this begins, fat is no longer used as fuel. This can cause a buildup of fat inside the liver, leading to fatty liver disease. Continued alcohol abuse with fatty liver disease can lead to alcoholic hepatitis, which derives from inflammation of the liver. The last and most fatal step in the direction of liver disease from alcohol is cirrhosis. Liver cells are replaced by scar tissue and blood flow can be hindered. This can lead to cancer and/or death.

The need for the body to replace the water, nutrients, minerals and vitamins it lost through alcohol processing translates to a hangover. Yes, the alcohol may be out of your system, but its effects still linger. You may feel dizzy, lightheaded, disoriented and weak.

So? Uncontrolled alcohol consumption is bad for your health! Science confirms this!

Q: How does our body eliminate alcohol?

Krishna: Once absorbed by the bloodstream, the alcohol leaves the body in three ways:

  • The kidney eliminates 5 percent of alcohol in the urine.
  • The lungs  exhale 5 percent of alcohol, which can be detected by breath-analyzer devises
  • The liver chemically breaks down the remaining alcohol into acetic acid.


Q: Why do we feel pain while menstruating?

Krishna: Menstruation is painful because it requires cramping of the uterus to expel the unneeded endometrium. 

Also some 70% of women develop uterine fibroids which can turn monthly menses into a monthly nightmare by increasing not only the amount of bleeding, but the severity of menstrual pain.

Some other reasons that cause this pain...

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)is an infection of the female reproductive tract most commonly caused by untreated sexually transmitted infections. Left untreated, PID can cause inflammation, scarring, painful menstruation, and infertility. PID most often occurs because sexually transmitted infections that cause PID can create scar tissue and adhesions in the pelvic region. During menstruation, hormones influence the uterus and surrounding structures – including the scar tissue and adhesions – which can increase inflammation, bleeding, and pain.

In some cases the uterus does not form correctly, which can cause infertility, painful periods, and painful intercourse. For women with structural anomalies – such as a bicornuate uterus (two uteri that lead to one cervix), septate uterus (normal uterus with a fibrous band of tissue bisecting it), unicornuate uterus (a uterus that develops from only one mullerian duct), uterus didelphys (two uteri, two cervices, and a septum, or membrane, dividing the vaginal canal) –  menstrual pain stems from blockages and membranes dividing the uterus and vagina. 

Cramping that can’t be explained by structural defect or a reproductive condition, also known as primary dysmenorrhea, occurs at some point in almost half of all menstruating women. This cramping is caused by increased or imbalanced levels of prostaglandins - – hormone-like fatty acids that stimulate the uterus to contract. Changes in prostaglandin levels can cause more intense and frequent uterine contractions, leading to the compression of nearby blood vessels and cutting off oxygen to the uterine muscle, thus causing painful cramping and discomfort.

And most women have to endure all that every month!

Q: Is Botox a poison from a bacteria? If so, how can it be used in beauty products?

Krishna: Botox is a drug made from a neurotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum called botulinum toxin. It is used medically to treat certain muscular conditions and cosmetically remove wrinkles by temporarily paralyzing  the underlying muscles. People also use Botox to treat excessive sweating, migraines, muscular disorders, and some bladder and bowel disorders.

Clostridium botulinum, the organism from which Botox is derived, is found in inactive form in the natural environment, including in the forest and cultivated soils, and in the sediment of lakes, streams, coastal and untreated waters.

The bacterium can also be found in the intestinal tracts of mammals and fish and in the gills and viscera of crabs and other shellfish. Such naturally occurring instances of Clostridium botulinumn bacteria and spores are typically relatively harmless. Problems only usually arise when the spores transform into vegetative cells and the cell population increases to the point where the bacteria begin producing botulinum toxin, the deadly neurotoxin responsible for botulism.

Botulinum toxin is one of the most poisonous substances known to man. Scientists have estimated that a single gram could kill as many as one million people and a couple of kilos could kill every human on earth. In high concentrations, botulinum toxin can result in botulism, a severe, life-threatening illness. Botulism, left untreated, may result in respiratory failure and death. Despite botulinum toxin being so toxic and so costly, Botox is in huge demand. It has proven to be a successful and valuable therapeutic substance when dosage, frequency of treatment and variety of treated clinical conditions are considered.

Botulinum toxin can be injected into humans in extremely small concentrations and works by preventing signals from the nerve cells reaching muscles, effectively leaving the muscles without instructions to contract, therefore paralyzing them.

In order for muscles to contract, nerves release a chemical messenger, acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter), at the junction where the nerve endings meet muscle cells. The acetylcholine attaches to receptors on the muscle cells and causes the muscle cells to contract or shorten. Injected botulinum toxin prevents the release of acetylcholine, preventing contraction of the muscle cells. The effect of botulinum toxin causes a reduction in abnormal muscle contraction allowing the muscles to become less stiff.   Botox injected into a muscle will freeze the muscle, or cause it to stop working, for a period of up to four months. As wrinkles are thought to be caused by the involuntary contraction of certain muscles, the introduction of Botox into any muscle that is thought to control and impact a wrinkle will take that muscle out for 120 days. However, it is not an anesthetic. Botox is a toxin. The muscle is reacting (or not reacting, as they case may be) to a foreign substance, which it finds toxic.

 In rare instances it can go beyond the injected area.  In addition to treating wrinkles between the eyebrows on the forehead, Botox is used to treat painful muscle spasms and knotted muscles of the neck. Again, the characteristic freezing, or immobilization of a muscle when it comes into contact with botulinum toxin holds true: if you can find a way for a problematic muscle to be rendered immobile without surgery—even temporarily so, at 120 days—it translates to relief for the patient.

There are reports of deaths amongst Botox patients, most of which center around clients who have been given Botox for therapeutic, rather than cosmetic reasons. Most of the deaths, sadly, have involved children afflicted with Cerebral Palsy. The latter group is often given Botox injections to control muscle spasicity, a condition that is a major issue with Cerebral Palsy patients. While Botox is still given to Cerebral Palsy patients, and in many cases successfully, dosages are carefully controlled, leaving one to speculate if the deaths in this particular group have been the result of Botox levels too high to be safe.
 There are also reports of Botox gone wrong, including instances of muscle weakness, swallowing problems, and aspiration pneumonia. The latter, basically, is when you cannot properly control your esophagus, and food and fluids wind up in your lungs, instead of your stomach. This situation arises when dosage is wrongly calculated for certain conditions and people.

Many symptoms of botulism, which is a dangerous assault on the body usually stemming from food poisoning, and those of migrating Botox (botulinum toxin) appear similar. Symptoms of botulism, which can be deadly, include droopy eyelids, difficulty speaking, progressive respiratory paralysis, weak grip, muscle weakness, and difficulties swallowing and breathing.

Therefore, one has to be very careful while using this toxin and has to take several aspects into account while deciding on the dose. 

So this is a case where the knowledge of science creatively uses a poisonous substance in small and carefully calculated amounts  to 'cure' or 'control' certain medical conditions. Deriving positivity from negativity? Yes, of course! 

Q: Is there any nakshtra that can see ghosts?

Krishna: There are no ghosts in the first place. There are no stars that can see or show them.

Q: What is  Von Willebrand disease?

Krishna: Von Willebrand disease (VWD) is a genetic disorder caused by missing or defective von Willebrand factor (VWF), a clotting protein. VWF binds factor VIII, a key clotting protein, and platelets in blood vessel walls, which help form a platelet plug during the clotting process. The condition is named after Finnish physician Erik von Willebrand, a who first described it in the 1920s.

VWD is the most common bleeding disorder. It is carried on chromosome 12 and occurs equally in men and women.

People with VWD experience frequent nosebleeds, easy bruising and excessive bleeding during and after invasive procedures, such as tooth extractions and surgery. Women often experience menorrhagia, heavy menstrual periods that last longer than average, and hemorrhaging after childbirth.

Q: How bad can smoking effect your lungs?

Krishna: This is the picture given by a doctor. See it and decide for yourself...

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