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Priscila Roney's blog

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The Predator's False Promise: Pseudoscience over Reason

Over 11 million people are diagnosed with cancer world wide each year, 7 million of which will not survive. With early detection, one-third of all cancers can generally be cured by surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy (1). Nonetheless, cancer treatment and detection is amongst the biggest medical challenges faced by our societies today.  Ever since the late 1980s there have been reports, articles and stories about “cancer defying sharks” and how these fearful predators potentially hold the secret weapon in our fight against cancer. These stories were commercially publicized by an entrepreneur named I. William Lane, who claimed that shark cartilage could treat and cure cancer, arthritis, enteritis (an inflammation of the intestinal tract), macular degeneration, psoriasis, acne and poison ivy (2). These claims became widely publicized and many companies in the US began marketing these shark cartilage “supplements”. Oncologists also noticed that an increasing amount of their patients were asking about shark cartilage treatments or had already tried this form of alternative therapy (3). Many were so eager to believe the idea of finding such an idealistic cure for cancer, that they did not bother to search for the scientific evidence supporting the alleged “magical properties” of powdered shark cartilage.

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Don't Speak, Just Move: Body language as non-verbal communication

Every look, every gesture, every twitch of an eyebrow, communicates an inaudible message.  This form of communication is just as important in the understanding of how humans interpret other’s emotions and intentions as the study of verbal language. In many instances, reading the movements of the body can be a more effective and accurate form of communication than words. For example, many of us find it very helpful to give or receive directions by signaling to right and left turns with our arms. Even if for the most part, we are unaware that we are doing so. This form of non-verbal communication, which has been widely studied in social and popular psychology, is commonly known as body language. It includes posture, facial expression and gestures in a manner in which a person voluntarily or involuntarily manifests his or her aspirations. (1) 

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Teratoma: The monster that may lead to the cure?

The term "teratoma" originating from the Greek word teraton meaning monster, is used to describe a kind of tumor that forms from pluripotent germ cells. Pluripotent cells are unique in the way in which they demonstrate the ability to produce biological responses very similar to that of normal human tissue. Teratomata usually consist of a tumor that is very different compared to the issue of the area in which it is growing. What is most alarming and many times horrifying about teratomata is that it can grow hair and teeth very similar to real human tissue. These tumors have puzzled scientists, psychics, doctors and patients for centuries. Early beliefs blamed the individual suffering from the condition for swallowing hair or other body parts and that this growth was a punishment for cannibalism. Other beliefs include witchcraft and curses as well as a punishment for adultery with the devil. While it has not been proven, certain manuscripts state that due to their human-like characteristics, there was a time in which the Roman Catholic Church considered teratomata to be a forming embryo and required it to be baptized. The parthenogenic theory is now the one that is most widely accepted.

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