Gender Dysphoria

Although it is not something I tend to openly admit to, one of my guilty pleasures is indulging in an episode of Hollyoaks every now and again. I have been watching the show on/off since I was younger, as it was one of the Soaps my sister would watch every day after school without fail.  It is easy to get absorbed with all the intertwining plot lines that are not at all unbelievable and characters that are not as all stereotypical or one dimensional. The reason I have admitted to being a fan of Hollyoaks is because of one of the storylines shed light on a condition I had previously known nothing about, but which has been more focussed on recently by the media, increasing public awareness.

Gender dysphoria is a condition where a person feels that they are trapped within a body of the wrong sex. Those with gender dysphoria may experience anxiety and a persistent discomfort about the gender that they were born with, or may believe that their gender identity is different from their anatomical sex. For example, a woman may be convinced that she is a male, despite having a female body.

The symptoms of gender dysphoria usually begin to appear at a very young age; however the behaviour exhibited, such as a child refusing to wear typical boys’ or girls’ clothes is a phase many children go through, but in cases of gender dysphoria, it persists into later childhood and through to adulthood.  Those with the lifelong conviction that they’re trapped in the wrong body are referred to as transsexuals.

In the UK an estimated 1 in 4,000 people are recieving medical help for gender dysphoria. . On average, men are diagnosed with gender dysphoria five times more often than women.

Treatment for gender dysphoria varies from person to person, as it is fully dependent on what the individual wants to do. Some may choose to dress and live as their preferred gender, whereas some may take hormones that alter their physical appearance. The majority of transsexuals choose to permanently change their biological sex, however a series of steps must be completed before they are able to do this, and they must be over 18. First the person must live as a member of the opposite sex, full time, for at least a year. After this, they would take either male or female hormones (depending on whether they wanted to become male or female) for at least a year – sometimes longer. After this, they could have surgery to become a man or a woman permanently: a ‘sex change operation’.

 The number of people with gender dysphoria is steadily increasing as awareness of the condition  heightens, however many still feel it is something they can not admit to as prejudice and intolerance towards transsexuals is not uncommon.

If you are interested in gender dysphoria, a new documentary on Channel 4 has just begun called “My Transsexual Summer”, tune in Tuesdays at 10pm.


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Increasing Organ Donations

As many will know, there is a major organ shortage currently (about 8000 people are on the waiting list) and encouraging a higher number of donations is a hot topic circulating around the news at the moment. This is because the government is attempting to come up with new ideas to encourage a larger number of people to donate organs.

The most recent possible incentive is that the NHS will pay for the funeral expenses (around £3000) of organ donors, portrayed to be like a “gift” for their generosity. A big cause of concern has been that this could open up trafficking of organs by people who are desperate financially; however, by paying for their funeral only, the government has tried to minimise this misapprehension as you will not be directly selling your organs individually for money.

The main argument against this is that people believe organ donation should be an entirely altruistic act – completely selfless, with no expectation of payment, and the funeral payment totally contradicts this. Many also believe that it won’t have a big effect as most people are not bothered about funeral expenses.

Personally, I believe the only way of increasing organs availability is by having an opt-out system (like Spain and Austria do), rather than an opt-in system, which England currently holds. This means that everyone is automatically signed up to donate their organs when they die but can choose not to participate, instead of the opposite. With this system, everyone will have to be educated thoroughly from a young age so that they can make the decision to pull out (but then again, what is the appropriate age for children to be able to make this decision?). They have thought about this system before but worry that the increase won’t be significant enough to combat the transplant demands and that it could possibly even reduce the number. Nonetheless, this would mean that organs of people who “never got around to” signing up aren’t wasted. It also considerably increases permission by family members who have the ability to veto a consent given initially by the donor when alive.

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New Biology – Are Science And Spirituality More Interlinked Than We Think? PART II

Additionally, many would presume that diseases spur either from toxins, or as a result of inherited genes. This is not the case. Only 5% of diseases are hereditary, the majority instigating as a result of the mind. Consider the following:

A man found a black mark on his neck; he thought nothing of it. 22 years later, that black mark remained and a companion of his told him that it was a sign of lung cancer. He went to get it checked out. His friend had been right. He died two weeks later.

Is there not something to say here? The misfortune of lung cancer is put upon a man, who is only diagnosed 22 years later. He manages to lead a happy life in oblivion to his illness, but upon hearing the bad news, negative thoughts and fields of energy begin to take over, perhaps even become programmed into his subconscious mind in the limited time of 14 days. It is most likely that he so strongly believed that he would die very soon of the cancer that it became a truth, so much so that his body gave up the fight two weeks later.

When an individual says that they will get breast cancer because they have inherited the gene, this is strictly untrue. A predisposition to cancer means that the gene, which will most likely lead to the illness is present, however it does not guarantee the presence of said illness in the individual. If what the individual had said were true, why then, did they not begin to develop breast cancer from the moment they were born? The gene was not activated. And if it has been proven that the largest cause of disease is the mind, is it not dangerous to presume that one will get cancer if one has “the gene for it”? Perhaps the man with lung cancer would have died much later had he never found out.

Now, I do not mean to throw you off track by giving a very small introduction to physics, as I am no physicist myself. The two theories of physics that I want to discuss are Newtonian physics (Newton) and Quantum mechanics (Einstein). Newtonian physics is something that most biologists are very fond of, and essentially what they abide by. It focuses on all material things – matter. This is a very straightforward and clear way of thinking, whereby one step follows the next, and where anything that isn’t physical is ignored. Quantum physics, on the other hand, concentrates on the concept that all things are made up of three miniscule particles: protons, electrons and neutrons. These particles are waves of energy, and are therefore invisible. Quantum physics interlinks many different concepts and theories so that, contrarily to Newtonian attitude, there is no clear and strict direction of thought to be followed – it is holistic. So whereas Newtonian physics focuses on all solid, material and visible things, quantum mechanics focuses on energy; what is invisible. Is it fair to decipher our universe and everything on it by ignoring what it is principally made up of (energy)? The New Biology shows us that there will continue to be gaps in our knowledge and limits to our research unless we begin to consider quantum mechanics.

If we were to follow the line of quantum mechanics, for this purpose, we can conclude that every separate entity is in fact merged to create one complex system (reference to Gaia’s hypothesis, Lovelock 1965). Hence one entity affects the next and so on and so forth. The energy, thoughts and signals, emanated by one enter the next.

To conclude, if our brain and our environment control our cells so much more than we thought, but perhaps much less consciously than we thought, should we not be putting much more effort into the state of our mind and the state of our environment in order to maintain a healthy life with a flourishing community of cells? Perhaps the Western society of today places too much emphasis on pharmaceutical companies and not enough in what we consider to be Eastern remedies – those that are more spiritual and concentrate fundamentally on the self-renewal of cells.

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New Biology – Are Science And Spirituality More Interlinked Than We Think? PART I

In the laboratory, a cell is cultured in a medium and contained in a Petri dish. If the cell is dying or unwell, we simply have to remove it from that Petri dish and put it into another, where the medium and other environmental conditions have been altered slightly. Once this step has been accomplished, the cell automatically and autonomously regenerates itself.

Our human body is in fact a highly organized colony of cells. That in which the cells bathe is their medium: the blood. The blood carries messages, signals and hormones emitted by the brain. These enter and affect the cells, allowing us to conclude that the brain controls the wellbeing and the state of its body’s cells.

 For example, when under stress, the pituitary gland in the brain receives signals (via the control centers in the hypothalamus) and causes the secretion of cortisol from the adrenal glands into the blood stream. This steroid hormone has a direct impact on cells, depending where and what function they have. Brain cell production hugely decreases, the immune system is suppressed, and it aids fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism.

So in the same way that an unwell cell in a Petri dish needs to be put into a new medium (different quantities of X & Y nutrients) in order to replenish, poorly cells in the human body would need the blood’s concentration of certain molecules to be altered in order to restore the cells’ welfare. However, similarly to the environment surrounding the Petri dish needing to be controlled for the health of the cell, the environment surrounding our body’s cells also needs to be controlled. By ‘environment’ I mean both our surroundings and our brain. The brain is after all the filter that allows environmental information to be passed through to the body. This could account for something as simple as a temperature change, or something far more complex such as the fields of energy and thoughts created from other organisms in the environs.

On that note, let us introduce the Brain MRI Scan. It consists of a large donut shaped magnetic tube in which the patient places their head while lying on a table. Put simply, it is able to receive fields and waves sent by the brain. However, the magnet does not share any physical contact with the patient’s head. This tells us that whatever electrical activity that takes place in the brain is emitted to its vicinity, thereby being processed by the brains of other individuals nearby. Hence, we can conclude that the thoughts and state of an organism will affect those of another. Therefore, in an environment where people are competing (under Darwinian theory) for survival of the fittest, stress and destructive fields of energy will be present and cause the detriment of cells. Surely this is not the key to evolution?

Hold that thought, and focus instead on this activity that takes place in the brain. As some of you may already know, the brain can be divided into two distinct categories: The subconscious mind, and the conscious mind. The subconscious is responsible for all our habitual behavioral patterns, such as waking up in the morning and brushing your teeth. It is essentially a preprogrammed set of information. The conscious mind is the creative part that is active when we focus on something that steers away from our daily routines. For example, when instructed to produce a painting from a blank canvas.  Less than 5% of our brain’s work takes place in the conscious mind, so in effect we are not nearly as in control as one would presume.

It is possible, however to train (and re-train) your brain to erase certain programs that are in your subconscious, or indeed to create new ones. In the past, Jesuits would take responsibility for children up until the age of 6-7. They would teach them their beliefs and their ways, and eventually return the children to the security of their families. Bizarrely enough, they were spot on in their methodology. Our subconscious mind processes and takes in information from the environment (and those present in it) up until the age of 6, at which point it has collected and created its own set of preprogrammed information. 

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Tinnitus (Ringing Ears)

Have you ever heard a ringing noise in your ears, more than often it’s high pitched? The kind that irritates you but you simply cannot do anything to make it stop? This article will helpfully give you a better understanding of what exactly that is…

Tinnitus is the name given to this ringing noise.  It affects around 1 in 5 people and is a symptom of an underlying condition, for example an ear injury or age-related hearing loss. There are 2 classifications of tinnitus: objective and subjective:

Subjective tinnitus – the most common type of tinnitus; only you yourself can hear the tinnitus. It can be caused by problems in the ear or by problems with the auditory nerves in the part of your brain that interpret nerve signlas as sound.

Objective tinnitus – the more rare type in which an external person (ie your doctor) can hear the tinnitus when carrying out an examination. This could be caused by a blood vessel problem, muscle contractions or an inner bone condition.

Inside the ear are thousnds of tiny hairs, stereocilia. These vibrate in response to sound waves. There are then cells, which convert neural signals into tension on the vibrating basement membrane. A neural feedback loop (regulated by the brain) exists to connect the sensing cells with the vibratory cells. Your ears are very delicate; therefore things such as going to concerts and listening to loud music can destroy/damage the hair cells. Studies have shown that when hair cells are lost, different neurons are activated resulting in the activation of auditory parts of the brain and causing sound to be heard (such as the high pitched ringing).

When you are played a tone at an extremely high frequency, you may not be able to hear it whereas someone else is capable. When you are younger, you are one of the more capable people. As we age, more of our cells become damaged due to things such as loud noises and our capability to hear these loud noises decreases.

So, if you have ever wondered why you can hear that loud irritating noise after going to some mental concert, you now know why… Just be careful – destroying a few of your cells will not cause devastating damage. However, no one wants to become deaf due to self-infliction.


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The MMR Vaccine’s Rumoured Link To Autism

Upon carrying out work experience this summer at a local General Practice, something in particular which really interested me was how many people passed on the opportunity of giving their children the MMR vaccine, available on the NHS. The parents would say that it has a risk of causing autism and they would rather pay for the separate vaccinations to avoid this chance. Bearing in minds he separate vaccines are no longer available in the UK they tend to have to be specially imported from abroad in such cases. A nurse who I was shadowing was outraged by this and went on to explain to me how it all began…

 In 1998, British doctor Andrew Wakefield caused a huge uproar upon suggesting a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.  The MMR vaccine was developed in the late 1960s, it is a shot used for immunisation of measles, mumps and rubella. The injection is first given to children of around 1yr old and then at 4/5yrs old.  This vaccination works by containing the three live viruses and then injecting them into the body. This then allows for special cells called memory cells to recognise these viruses so that if the body is to ever come across them, a rapid response is carried out fighting off the virus preventing it from doing any harm.  Originally the 3 vaccinations were all given separately. However giving them all together as one vaccination had many benefits such as fewer injections for the child.

Wakefield was reportedly paid just under half a million pounds by the Legal Services Commission to build a case against the MMR vaccine.

Researchers have since been unable to confirm any link between the MMR vaccine and autism. This one man has caused such a controversy in the UK from his false allegation.  The coverage of the alleged links with autism and the MMR vaccine has never fully been recovered even up until this day there are people who believe that their children should not be vaccinated. Although there are overwhelming amounts of scientific evidence that there are no links – people fail to dismiss the rumour.  We all know that for science to be proven, it must go through the long process of the experiment being carried out and repeated and then the same results being able to be found by other scientists too. This was not the case for Wakefield whatsoever. Unfortunately, as a result this has led to an increase in measles and the sad thing is that a disease, which could be avoided, is still a risk for many.

Just to show how this suggestion still affects people, I came across something whilst reading the book ‘In Stitches’ by Dr. Nick Edwards. He has a chapter on ‘A weird rash’ in which he talks of patients who have not had the MMR injection and therefore going into A&E when it is preventable. He says ‘The MMR vaccination is not this evil autism-inducing injection that the media sometimes make us think. There is no evidence that it causes autism. However, there is evidence that if your child doesn’t have the injection, they are at higher risk of getting these illnesses. Today I saw a child I shouldn’t have. Have a proper think before you refuse your health visitor’s advice.’

PS. I would recommend reading this book, highly entertaining and informative for those future medics. 

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The Molecule Of Life, Part II

Proteins are the molecules that are actively working during reactions. For example, in order for the electron transport chain (ETC) – the third stage of cellular respiration – to flow, a number of specific proteins must be present:

NADH and FADH2 carry the electrons to the protein complexes. Once there, ubiquinone and cytochrome C transport the electrons from complex to complex within the chain. At the end of the ETC, the ATP synthase enzyme is present, whereby it acts for the principal mechanism involved in the production of ATP.

This is one example amongst many. Although perhaps very obvious to all, it is worth reiterating here that respiration would not occur if it weren’t for the proteins involved.

MRS GREN is a way of remembering the seven processes an organism must consistently perform to count as being alive.








If we were to look into each one of these processes we would see that, at the core, they all consist of protein activity. Along the same lines, would it be fair to say that the molecule that controls life is in fact the protein and not DNA? Although unconventional and perhaps heretic, it remains a just observation.

Continuing from the above, we know that the way in which proteins work relies on their movement. If a protein is left alone it does not move, so what causes the activity of proteins? It comes down to the signals that they receive and abide by. Well where do these signals come from? The answer, very simply, is the environment. Hold that thought.

The most important statement in biology is named the central dogma. It says that biology begins with DNA, which leads to RNA and finally to the proteins. However, what is ignored in this statement is that the DNA does not control itself. Genes are activated or deactivated as a result of the movement of regulatory proteins. The positioning of these DNA proteins is in turn controlled by environmental influences. So effectively, perhaps the central dogma should be revised to say the following:

Environment > Regulatory Proteins > DNA > RNA > Proteins

The above also erases a particular argument against the protein as the molecule that controls life. One might say that in order for the protein to be present and a reaction to be carried out, the protein must first be made by the DNA (example of a reference to the central dogma). However, to this I say the following: If part of a DNA strand needs to make a certain protein, it will be able to do so thanks to the movement of the regulatory proteins (see previous paragraph).

So where does this take us?

We have devalued the importance of the DNA as the molecule that controls life.

We have disproved the myth that the “brain” of the cell is the nucleus, and have concluded that it is in fact the cell surface membrane.

We have brought attention to the protein, and stated its crucial role in living processes and hence, in life.

We have considered the activation of the protein, as we know that when undisturbed, it remains latent.

We have reiterated that the protein is in action only when triggered by a signal.

We have considered the origin of these signals, which ultimately, is the environment. This not only encompasses messages transmitted by the brain, but also those put in place by the environment: the fields, messages and molecules that are always present around us.

These concepts spur questions that unfortunately cannot all be discussed in this article, but please do not hesitate to ask. I also strongly recommend that you look up Professor Bruce Lipton, whose knowledge, studies and thoughts are what led me to write this article. 

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