Real Full Monty’s ‘warrior women’ praised

Image copyright ITV

Stars including Coleen Nolan and breast cancer survivor Victoria Derbyshire have been hailed “warrior women” for baring all for breast cancer awareness.

Eight women took part in The Real Full Monty: Ladies’ Night, stripping off in front of a live audience.

Those chosen have all been affected by cancer.

They were seen on the ITV show dancing to This Is Me from The Greatest Showman in a routine choreographed by Diversity’s Ashley Banjo.

The group included cancer survivor Ruth Madoc, the actress, and singer and presenter Michelle Heaton, who had a double mastectomy after learning she has the BRCA2 gene.

‘Out of comfort zone’

Actress Helen Lederer also took part, along with DJ Sarah-Jane Crawford, Emmerdale’s Sally Dexter and Towie’s Megan McKenna.

They were assembled by Loose Women’s Nolan, whose sister Bernie died of breast cancer in 2013. Another sister, Linda, is now battling the condition.

“I’m here and one of my sisters isn’t – and one of them is going through hell again,” she said. “I’m doing it for them.”

Image copyright ITV
Image caption Derbyshire became emotional during the show

Derbyshire was initially uncertain about taking part, breaking down on the first day of rehearsals saying: “This is so out of my comfort zone. God, this is day one, what the heck.

“I haven’t cried for ages about having cancer, or my body or whatever.”

It was also an emotional experience for Heaton, who talked about her reconstructed breasts, saying she felt “disconnected” from them.

They also took part in a Calendar Girls-inspired photoshoot, with food items covering their bare breasts, to increase their confidence.

Image copyright ITV
Image caption The women took part in a Calendar Girls photoshoot during the documentary

On the big night, the women took to the stage in Sheffield in bronze sequinned wrap dresses – halfway through, they pulled off the dresses to show tasselled black lingerie, which they accessorised with red feather fans.

Turning away from the crowds, they removed their bras and covered themselves with the feathers, before then facing the audience – and removing the feathers. The final shot was filmed from behind.

It proved emotional for all of the women, with Derbyshire and Nolan sharing a hug as the performance drew to a close.

Image copyright ITV

Derbyshire said the programme, which followed a male version of the show featuring the likes of James Argent and John Partridge, had made her “really happy”.

“There might be someone watching who learns something about breast cancer that they didn’t know before and it might save their life and that is massive,” she added.

Heaton said she felt “overwhelmed” after the experience, adding on Twitter: “#TheRealFullMontyladies has been the best thing I’ve ever done to help overcome my fears and raise #BreastCancerAwareness.”

There was praise and admiration from the audience after the show aired on ITV1 on Thursday night.

Viewer Vikki Longman said it made her feel “empowered”.

Singer Sam Bailey said she was proud of all those who took part.

Presenter Sue Perkins said the programme was “joyful” and “empowering”, while Anna Richardson described the stars as “warrior women”.

Derbyshire later thanked people for their support – including one woman who said the programme made her check her breasts.

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Fan favorite Phil Mickelson still pushing for grand slam glory

(CNN)They call him “Phil the Thrill.” Firstly, it’s a neat rhyme, but mostly because it encapsulates golf’s evergreen entertainer.

The Mickelson thumbs up is a trademark, as is the bashful grin, the looping swing and the black-clad gait of a gunslinger.
Being left handed has always marked him out (particularly as he’s right-handed in everything else), but Mickelson’s all-or-nothing approach and wizardry around the greens would have marked him out anyway.
    There’s only one “Lefty.”
    When he’s in the right mood, a Mickelson news conference is a feast, crackling and popping with insight and witticisms.
    At Augusta last year he was asked to complete this sentence: “Being Masters champion is better than…”
    “Well, being a Masters champion is better than not being a Masters champion,” he flashed back with that wide grin before elaborating.
    “He’s got box office, always has,” says CNN Living Golf’s presenter Shane O’Donoghue.


    Mickelson, who modeled his swing on his left-handed airline pilot dad’s, made a splash in the 1991 Walker Cup, the amateur team competition, at Portmarnock in Ireland.
    The fresh-faced California kid dazzled a new audience with his magical — and often high risk — short game.
    The Mickelson flop shot — precariously lofting the ball nearly vertically into the air to land softly over a nearby obstacle — very quickly became a thing of legend.
    “He set down a marker for what he would do in this pro career,” added O’Donoghue.
    “He’s a gambler by nature, he takes calculated risks but he has enormous belief in his talent and his ability with the wedge is phenomenal.”

      ‘Human foil’

      That talent and enduring love for golf has kept Mickelson at the top of the game for three decades.
      At 47, he should be in the twilight of his career, but Mickelson scored his 43rd PGA Tour win this season and appears every bit as fired up and capable of adding to his five major titles and first since 2013.
      In another time, Mickelson might have been The Man.
      But five years into his pro career an unprecedented phenomenon hit golf by the name of Tiger Woods.
        Woods’ domination slashed opportunities for the chasing pack and introduced a new dynamic of power and fitness into the game.
        Mickelson, never an advocate of the gym bunny craze, remained the human foil to the machine-like Woods.
        The pair weren’t close and the relationship appeared to reach a nadir in an ill-fated and ill-judged partnership at the 2004 Ryder Cup.
        But Mickelson has always credited Woods with making pro golf the lucrative entity it is, and they’ve grown closer in recent years through Woods’ Ryder Cup vice-captaincy roles and shared life struggles.
        Despite Woods’ shadow, Mickelson has won — and blown — a decent share of tournaments and sits ninth on the list of all-time PGA Tour winners. Despite lengthy spells ranked second in the world, he’s never quite got to world No.1.
        In the early days he was a long-time holder of that double-edged moniker “best player never to have won a major.”
        He dazzled and dueled, and wracked up tournament victories, but he just couldn’t turn that talent into major triumph.
          And then, after three straight thirds at Augusta, he caught fire on the back-nine on the final day in 2004 and birdied the last to beat Ernie Els by one. His first major title in his 12th full season on tour.
          Mickelson’s famous leap, which has become a logo on his golf gear, is regularly brought up reporters looking for sport.
          “I can assure you I was not at the apex,” he always laughs obligingly.

          Masters magic

          Mickelson picked up a US PGA in 2005 and added another green jacket the following year. Four years later he made it three. His 2010 win was pure Phil the Thrill.
          Leading by one as the shadows lengthened on an electric final afternoon, Mickelson drove into the trees to the right of the par-five 13th. His ball nestled in pine straw, the green apparently blocked by the trunks of two towering Georgia pines. The safe option was to play back out onto the fairway.
          Mickelson doesn’t do safe.
          “I’m going for it,” he told his caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay to end one of the pair’s by-then legendary on-course discussions. The white-suited bagman, a fixture since 1993 and one of his best friends, wasn’t sure.
          But Mickelson had seen a gap, and threaded a six-iron through the eye of a needle, across the stream that guards the green and to within four feet of the hole.
          “The gap wasn’t huge, but it was big enough, you know, for a ball to fit through,” he teased reporters later.
          He missed the eagle putt, but a birdie four gave him a two-shot lead and he pulled away to beat England’s Lee Westwood by three. He hugged wife Amy for what seemed like an eternity behind the green. Everyone knew why.
          His third Masters title — tying him for third on the all-time list behind only Arnold Palmer (4), Woods (4) and Jack Nicklaus (6) — crowned an emotional year after both Amy and his mother Mary had battled breast cancer.
          “In the last year we’ve been through a lot and it’s been tough, and to be on the other end and feel this kind of jubilation is incredible,” he said.

          Cusp of a grand slam

          Cementing his status as a grounded family man, Mickelson was pictured the next morning at the drive-thru counter of a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop in Augusta. Two of his three children were in the car and Mickelson was wearing his Masters green coat. “It was a little chilly, I threw on a jacket,” he said later, insisting he’d promised the kids doughnuts before they left town.
          But Mickelson’s testing times weren’t over. That summer he was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, which renders joints swollen and painful.
          Various drugs, exercise and a healthy sugar-free diet helped Mickelson keep the disease at bay.
          Three years later at Muirfield, Mickelson clinched the British Open, long thought to be the one major beyond him because its traditional seaside-style links golf didn’t suit his game.
          But winning the Claret Jug gave him his fifth major title and propelled him to the cusp of a career grand slam of all four majors.

          US Open ‘heartbreak’

          Only the US Open still eludes him and it’s become his nemesis after a record six runner-up spots. Every year the pressure increases as he strives to join the exalted company of Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Nicklaus and Woods as the only players to have completed the set of majors in the Masters era.
          Perhaps his most agonizing of those misses was when he blew a one-shot lead with a double-bogey on the 72nd hole of the 2006 US Open at Winged Foot.
          “I just can’t believe that I did that,” he said afterward. “I am such an idiot.”

          Another was at Shinnecock Hills in 2004, venue for this year’s US Open. The most recent was at Merion in 2013.
          “If I never get the Open,” he said after losing by one to Justin Rose, “…then every time I think of the [US] Open, I just think of heartbreak.”
          In 2017, despite the pull of the grand slam, he missed the event to attend his daughter’s high school graduation.
          Outside of his wins, Mickelson has had 18 top threes in majors — Nicklaus, winner of the most majors with 18, was also second a record 19 times.
          But despite the lengthy post-round autograph sessions, the fan interaction, the tales of lavish tips, the informative and entertaining interviews, the taking young players under his wing, and the unfailing sponsor obligations, any conversation about Mickelson always dredges up another of his nicknames: “Phil the Phony.”
          There is — or at least there was in the early days — a school of thought that Mickelson’s mojo is a fraud, that behind the scenes he is less magnanimous than his public persona.
          Even this season, Mickelson’s critics laid into him for asking Englishman Tyrrell Hatton how to pronounce his first name as they prepared to play together in Mexico. Disrespectful, cried some. Nonsense, it was Phil being a stand-up guy and trying to get it right, say others.

          ‘Bad rap’

          O’Donoghue is a “huge fan” and recounts a tale where Mickelson, with whom he had developed a fledgling acquaintance over his son and the American’s shared birthday, called him “Seamus” during a TV interview. The next time they met, two years later, the first thing Mickelson did was apologize.
          “He looks at me and says, ‘Shane, I am so embarrassed about calling you Seamus,'” said O’Donoghue.
          He added: “He’s the consummate pro and he’s an amazing ambassador for the game and the best PGA Tour player of the modern era in terms of what he gives back. He delivers on so many different levels.
          “He gets a bad rap from some of the players and some of the media, that he’s not that sincere, that it’s a bit of an act. I’ve yet to see that side of him. My dealings with him have always been 100% professional and I’ve always been very impressed by him.”

            Jordan Spieth tees it up with Lorena Ochoa

          Critics also point to his well reported fondness for high-stakes gambling and the legendary trash-talking Tuesday money games with a close coterie of colleagues.
          Then there are the links to the fraud case of Las Vegas gambler William “Billy” Walters (Mickelson himself didn’t face any charges), in which he was forced to pay back $1 million linked to insider trading, following the repayment of a $2 million gambling debt to Walters in 2012.
          One of Mickelson’s most controversial moments came in the Team USA news conference after losing the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, Scotland. Asked what didn’t work compared to the winning side in 2008, Mickelson threw captain Tom Watson, sitting a few seats to his left, under the bus.
          “I think he got caught out a bit by being too blunt and oversharing a little bit,” said O’Donoghue.
          “But these guys are gladiators — they all want to win and they all have their own opinions.”
          Mickelson, it seems, will continue to divide opinion, at least off the course.
          On it, he is in line for a 12th straight Ryder Cup appearance this year. A first victory on European soil remains one of his remaining “big goals.” He’ll have to do it for the first time without Bones on the bag after the pair’s amicable split in June 2017.
          Mickelson wanted to freshen things up and has turned to his brother Tim, a former golf coach at Arizona State and ex-agent to rising Spanish star Jon Rahm.
          Still pressing, still hungry, still trying to get better.
          Masters, majors, grand slams, Ryder Cups — the thrill is very much still with Phil.

          Read more:

          New surgical goggles spot cancer tissue where human eye wont, study claims

          Surgical goggles developed by researchers at the University of Illinois and Washington University are able to spot cancerous tissue where the human eye won’t, a new study claims.

          The goggles, which were tested in mice and women with breast cancer, have an integrated camera that can pick up infrared signals beneath the surface of the tissue.

          The tiny device was inspired by the morpho butterfly’s eyes, according to the study published in the journal Optica.

          Researchers explained that before the surgery the women were injected with a green dye containing a protein that attaches specifically to cancer cells.


          The dyed cells emit an infrared signal that cannot be seen by the human eye, but is detected by the camera in the goggles worn by the surgeons.

          “By looking at the way nature has designed the visual systems of insects, we can address serious problems that exist with cancer surgery today and make sure there are no cancer cells left behind during surgery,” said study leader Viktor Gruev, an Illinois professor of electrical and computer engineering and of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, as quoted by Eureka Alert.

          SURGERY SCAR

          “Our technology is much quicker because one of the advantages is imaging deeper in the tissue,” Gruev said. “Sometimes when they’re looking for green coloration, they’re looking for a while because the nodes are below the surface. With the fluorescence, you can see through the skin or the tissue and identify them much quicker.”

          Since the camera can pick up signals beneath the surface of the tissue, the surgeons could even locate tumor sites through the skin.


          “We could image before the incision and identify the potential points of interest to minimize the incision,” said Missael Garcia, a postdoctoral researcher at Illinois and the first author of the paper.

          Gruev noted that not only is the new technology more sensitive and accurate, but much smaller and lower-cost than currently available instruments that are FDA-approved.

          “We anticipate it to cost around $200, compared with $20,000 for the cheapest FDA-approved instrument,” he said.

          With reporting by SWNS.

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          Two Towns In The US Have Unusually High Rates Of A Rare Type Of Eye Cancer, But No One Is Sure Why

          Researchers are at a loss to explain why two towns in the US are experiencing unusually high levels of a rare type of cancer called ocular melanoma (OM).

          Just five in 1 million people are diagnosed with this type of eye cancer every year. But for some reason, women in Huntersville, North Carolina and Auburn, Alabama are experiencing an abnormally high number of cases.

          In Huntersville, a town of just 55,000, 18 people have been diagnosed with OM since 2000. In Auburn, a town of 63,000, 33 people who lived or worked in the town between 1980 and the early 1990s have been diagnosed, according to Heathline.

          “When you’re talking about more common cancers like breast cancer or lung cancer, they’re certainly more common, but when you’re talking about a rare cancer, it certainly raises a red flag,” Dr Marlana Orloff from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia told the website.

          OM is a type of eye cancer that develops in cells of the eye that produce pigment. It’s more common in women than men, with symptoms including flashes of light in your vision, a bulging eye, and pain around the eye area.

          It can be detected by having an eye examination or an ultrasound scan of your eye, although the exact causes of this rare cancer are unknown. It can be treated by inserting tiny radioactive plates into the eye to kill the cancerous cells, among other treatments. In extreme cases, the eye will need to be removed.

          According to an article in the Charlotte Observer last year, environmental exposures and genetic traits have been put forward as possible explanations for the cases. A rise in awareness of the condition has allowed more cases to be diagnosed.

          WLTZ said that Alabama has the highest rates of OM in the US. Researchers are looking into the possibility that there may be a genetic cause of the disease, which would help explain why these two locations have such high rates.

          In Huntersville, $100,000 has been allocated to researchers to look into possible causes of OM. That same amount of funding was denied to a state senator in Alabama, but thanks to a Facebook group set up earlier this year, more people are becoming aware of the condition.

          For now, it’s somewhat of a mystery. If you think you may have some of the symptoms of ocular melanoma, make sure you speak to your doctor.

          Read more:

          I Felt as Though Someone Had Punched Me Square in the Gut: Cancer Survivors Sue Hospital Over Lost Eggs and Embryos

          In one of her earliest memories, Rachel Mehl is running around at her brothers Boy Scout camp.

          She was around 5, and another boy, a toddler, fell and scraped his knee. She rushed to his side to comfort him, and both of their mothers remarked on what a good mom she was going to be one day. I beamed with pride, Mehl said. Throughout her life, she said, shes been unwavering in her desire to have children.

          Thats why, when Mehl was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 38, she made the chance to hold off receiving treatment until she could harvest and freeze her eggs. Chemotherapy, she was told, would likely destroy her fertility.

          Mehl, who lives in Pittsburgh, harvested 19 eggs and stored them at an Ohio fertility clinic run by University Hospitals. But in early March, she got a letter from the hospital informing her that freezer storing her eggs had malfunctioned and that they were likely no longer viable. I felt as though someone had punched me square in the gut, she said during a press conference on Monday.

          Mehl is one of three Pittsburgh women, all breast cancer survivors, filing lawsuits against a Ohio fertility clinic after the freezer malfunction led to the loss of their frozen eggs, they announced in a press conference Monday. Theyre represented by noted womens rights attorney Gloria Allred, along with local attorneys from the area. The three women and are suing for negligence and breach of contract, among other charges. Mehl and Deers suits have already been filed and Yerkeys will be filed later this week.

          Because of the carelessness of the University Hospital, I have now lost all hope of every having biological children.
          Rachel Mehl

          Sarah Deer, 30, had 29 eggs stored at the clinic, and Danelle Yerkey, 37, had 24 eggs stored. Both also delayed treatment to go through the egg extraction process before chemotherapy and radiation damaged their fertility. I felt like we had secured our future, Deer said during the press conference. I am a woman wounded. Robbed by cancer of my health and my body, and robbed by University Hospitals of my future.

          In total, more than 4,000 eggs and embryos from around 950 patents were damaged by the storage tank malfunction over the weekend of March 3. We are heartbroken to tell you that its unlikely any are viable, the hospital said in a letter to patients.

          Mehl says she wasnt initially angry with the University Hospital health system over the loss, she said: Things happen that we cant predict or plan for. But after learning more about the circumstances surrounding the malfunction, her feelings changed, she said.

          For a few weeks before the incident, the clinic was aware that the storage tank holding the eggs and embryos was broken, and was beginning the process to remove and transfer its contents. The automatic refilling feature on the tank, which kept levels of liquid nitrogen steady, wasnt working properly, and hospital staff was topping it off by hand, they said in the letter. The tank comes equipped with an automatic alarm designed to alert an employee if the temperature in the tank rises, but the alarm had been turned off, and no one was notified that the unit was heating up.

          You better believe that now Im angry, Mehl said. Because of the carelessness of the University Hospital, I have now lost all hope of every having biological children.

          Allred said at the press conference that these women are among the most vulnerable victims she has ever met.

          Its bad enough when women are treated with callous disregard in any area of life, she said during the press conference. But especially in this area, which is so intimate and personal … we have more questions than we have answers, but they deserve the answers and so much more.

          I am a woman wounded. Robbed by cancer of my health and my body, and robbed by University Hospitals of my future.
          Sarah Deer

          Allred also called for legislation around fertility clinics, which are largely unregulated, to maintain high standards and put safeguards in place to prevent problems like this in the future. Regulation is not a dirty word, she said. Regulation, depending on what kind of regulation, can ensure safety for consumers so there will be fewer victims.

          In a similar incident, which coincidentally took place over the same weekend, a malfunction at a San Francisco clinic lead to damage to the eggs and embryos of around 400 patients. That incident has led to a class action lawsuit.

          A number of other lawsuits have already been filed against the University Hospital system, including two proposed class-action lawsuits, filed at the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court in Cleveland soon after the malfunction was announced. One is in the name of a Pennsylvania couple, and one is by Amber and Elliot Ash, who had two embryos in the affected storage tank.

          Elliot froze his sperm over a decade ago, before receiving chemotherapy, according to The New York Times. The couple has one son, conceived through in vitro fertilization, and told the Times that they stored the additional embryos with plans to eventually have a second child.

          Its up to the courts to determine if the suits will proceed individually, said Stuart Scott, an attorney with Spangenberg Shibley & Liber LLP, the local firm working on the case, or if they will all be consolidated under one class action suit.

          But the voices of the individual women filing suit Monday matter, Allred says. They also want to become fighters for change, so that no other women will have to suffer the catastrophic loss they have had to endure.

          Read more:

          Why are the poor blamed and shamed for their deaths?

          When someone dies, she often suffers a brutal moral autopsy, says Barbara Ehrenreich. Did she smoke? Drink excessively? Eat too much fat?

          I watched in dismay as most of my educated, middle-class friends began, at the onset of middle age, to obsess about their health and likely longevity. Even those who were at one point determined to change the world refocused on changing their bodies. They undertook exercise or yoga regimens; they filled their calendars with medical tests and exams; they boasted about their good and bad cholesterol counts, their heart rates and blood pressure.

          Mostly they understood the task of ageing to be self-denial, especially in the realm of diet, where one medical fad, one study or another, condemned fat and meat, carbs, gluten, dairy or all animal-derived products. In the health-conscious mindset that has prevailed among the worlds affluent people for about four decades now, health is indistinguishable from virtue, tasty foods are sinfully delicious, while healthful foods may taste good enough to be advertised as guilt-free. Those seeking to compensate for a lapse undertake punitive measures such as hours-long cardio sessions, fasts, purges or diets composed of different juices carefully sequenced throughout the day.

          Of course I want to be healthy, too; I just dont want to make the pursuit of health into a major life project. I eat well, meaning I choose foods that taste good and will stave off hunger for as long as possible, such as protein, fibre and fats. But I refuse to overthink the potential hazards of blue cheese on my salad or pepperoni on my pizza. I also exercise not because it will make me live longer but because it feels good when I do. As for medical care, I will seek help for an urgent problem, but I am no longer interested in undergoing tests to uncover problems that remain undetectable to me. When friends berate me for my laxity, my heavy use of butter or habit of puffing (but not inhaling) on cigarettes, I gently remind them that I am, in most cases, older than they are.

          So it was with a measure of schadenfreude that I began to record the cases of individuals whose healthy lifestyles failed to produce lasting health. It turns out that many of the people who got caught up in the health craze of the last few decades people who exercised, watched what they ate, abstained from smoking and heavy drinking have nevertheless died. Lucille Roberts, owner of a chain of womens gyms, died incongruously from lung cancer at the age of 59, although she was a self-described exercise nut who, the New York Times reported, wouldnt touch a French fry, much less smoke a cigarette. Jerry Rubin, who devoted his later years to trying every supposedly health-promoting diet fad, therapy and meditation system he could find, jaywalked into Wilshire Boulevard at the age of 56 and died of his injuries two weeks later.

          Some of these deaths were genuinely shocking. Jim Fixx, author of the bestselling The Complete Book Of Running, believed he could outwit the cardiac problems that had carried his father off to an early death by running at least 10 miles a day and restricting himself to a diet of pasta, salads and fruit. But he was found dead on the side of a Vermont road in 1984, aged only 52.

          Even more disturbing was the untimely demise of John H Knowles, director of the Rockefeller Foundation and promulgator of the doctrine of personal responsibility for ones health. Most illnesses are self-inflicted, he argued the result of gluttony, alcoholic intemperance, reckless driving, sexual frenzy, smoking and other bad choices. The idea of a right to health, he wrote, should be replaced by the idea of an individual moral obligation to preserve ones own health. But he died of pancreatic cancer at 52, prompting one physician commentator to observe, Clearly we cant all be held responsible for our health.

          Still, we persist in subjecting anyone who dies at a seemingly untimely age to a kind of bio-moral autopsy: did she smoke? Drink excessively? Eat too much fat and not enough fibre? Can she, in other words, be blamed for her own death? When David Bowie and Alan Rickman both died in early 2016 of what major US newspapers described only as cancer, some readers complained that it is the responsibility of obituaries to reveal what kind of cancer. Ostensibly, this information would help promote awareness of the particular cancers involved, as Betty Fords openness about her breast cancer diagnosis helped to destigmatise that disease. It would also, of course, prompt judgments about the victims lifestyle. Would Bowie have died at the quite respectable age of 69 if he hadnt been a smoker?

          Apple co-founder Steve Jobs 2011 death from pancreatic cancer continues to spark debate. He was a food faddist, eating only raw vegan foods, especially fruit, and refusing to deviate from that plan even when doctors recommended a high protein and fat diet to help compensate for his failing pancreas. His office refrigerator was filled with Odwalla juices; he antagonised non-vegan associates by attempting to proselytise among them, as biographer Walter Isaacson has reported: at a meal with Mitch Kapor, the chairman of Lotus software, Jobs was horrified to see Kapor slathering butter on his bread, and asked, Have you ever heard of serum cholesterol? Kapor responded, Ill make you a deal. You stay away from commenting on my dietary habits, and I will stay away from the subject of your personality.

          Defenders of veganism argue that his cancer could be attributed to his occasional forays into protein-eating (a meal of eel sushi has been reported) or to exposure to toxic metals as a young man tinkering with computers. But a case could be made that it was the fruitarian diet that killed him: metabolically, a diet of fruit is equivalent to a diet of candy, only with fructose instead of glucose, with the effect that the pancreas is strained to constantly produce more insulin. As for the personality issues the almost manic-depressive mood swings they could be traced to frequent bouts of hypoglycemia. Incidentally, 67-year-old Mitch Kapor is alive and well at the time of this writing.

          Similarly, with sufficient ingenuity or malicious intent almost any death can be blamed on some mistake of the deceased. Surely Fixx had failed to listen to his body when he first felt chest pains and tightness while running, and maybe, if he had been less self-absorbed, Rubin would have looked both ways before crossing the street. Maybe its just the way the human mind works, but when bad things happen or someone dies, we seek an explanation, preferably one that features a conscious agent a deity or spirit, an evil-doer or envious acquaintance, even the victim. We dont read detective novels to find out that the universe is meaningless, but that, with sufficient information, it all makes sense. We can, or think we can, understand the causes of disease in cellular and chemical terms, so we should be able to avoid it by following the rules laid down by medical science: avoiding tobacco, exercising, undergoing routine medical screening and eating only foods currently considered healthy. Anyone who fails to do so is inviting an early death. Or, to put it another way, every death can now be understood as suicide.

          Liberal commentators countered that this view represented a kind of victim-blaming. In her books Illness As Metaphor and Aids And Its Metaphors, Susan Sontag argued against the oppressive moralising of disease, which was increasingly portrayed as an individual problem. The lesson, she said, was, Watch your appetites. Take care of yourself. Dont let yourself go. Even breast cancer, she noted, which has no clear lifestyle correlates, could be blamed on a cancer personality, sometimes defined in terms of repressed anger which, presumably, one could have sought therapy to cure. Little was said, even by the major breast cancer advocacy groups, about possible environmental carcinogens or carcinogenic medical regimes such as hormone replacement therapy.

          While the affluent struggled dutifully to conform to the latest prescriptions for healthy living adding whole grains and gym time to their daily plans the less affluent remained mired in the old comfortable, unhealthy ways of the past smoking cigarettes and eating foods they found tasty and affordable. There are some obvious reasons why the poor and the working class resisted the health craze: gym memberships can be expensive; health foods usually cost more than junk food. But as the classes diverged, the new stereotype of the lower classes as wilfully unhealthy quickly fused with their old stereotype as semi-literate louts. I confront this in my work as an advocate for a higher minimum wage. Affluent audiences may cluck sympathetically over the miserably low wages offered to blue-collar workers, but they often want to know why these people dont take better care of themselves. Why do they smoke or eat fast food? Concern for the poor usually comes tinged with pity. And contempt.

          Photograph: Stephen Voss for the Guardian

          In the 00s, British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver took it on himself to reform the eating habits of the masses, starting with school lunches. Pizza and burgers were replaced with menu items one might expect to find in a restaurant fresh greens, for example, and roast chicken. But the experiment was a failure. In the US and UK, schoolchildren dumped out their healthy new lunches or stamped them underfoot. Mothers passed burgers to their children through school fences. Administrators complained that the new meals were vastly over-budget; nutritionists noted that they were cruelly deficient in calories. In Olivers defence, it should be observed that ordinary junk food is chemically engineered to provide an addictive combination of salt, sugar and fat. But it probably matters, too, that he didnt study local eating habits in sufficient depth before challenging them, nor seems to have given enough thought to creatively modifying them. In West Virginia, he alienated parents by bringing a local mother to tears when he publicly announced the food she gave her four children was killing them.

          There may well be unfortunate consequences from eating the wrong foods. But what are the wrong foods? In the 80s and 90s, the educated classes turned against fat in all forms, advocating the low-fat and protein diet that, journalist Gary Taubes argues, paved the way for an epidemic of obesity as health-seekers switched from cheese cubes to low-fat desserts. The evidence linking dietary fat to poor health had always been shaky, but class prejudice prevailed: fatty and greasy foods were for the poor and unenlightened; their betters stuck to bone-dry biscotti and fat-free milk. Other nutrients went in and out of style as medical opinion shifted: it turns out high dietary cholesterol, as in oysters, is not a problem after all, and doctors have stopped pushing calcium on women over 40. Increasingly, the main villains appear to be sugar and refined carbohydrates, as in hamburger buns. Eat a pile of fries washed down with a sugary drink and you will probably be hungry again in a couple of hours, when the sugar rush subsides. If the only cure for that is more of the same, your blood sugar levels may permanently rise what we call diabetes.

          Special opprobrium is attached to fast food, thought to be the food of the ignorant. Film-maker Morgan Spurlock spent a month eating nothing but McDonalds to create his famous Super Size Me, documenting his 11kg (24lb) weight gain and soaring blood cholesterol. I have also spent many weeks eating fast food because its cheap and filling but, in my case, to no perceptible ill effects. It should be pointed out, though, that I ate selectively, skipping the fries and sugary drinks to double down on the protein. When, at a later point, a notable food writer called to interview me on the subject of fast food, I started by mentioning my favourites (Wendys and Popeyes), but it turned out they were all indistinguishable to him. He wanted a comment on the general category, which was like asking me what I thought about restaurants.

          If food choices defined the class gap, smoking provided a firewall between the classes. To be a smoker in almost any modern, industrialised country is to be a pariah and, most likely, a sneak. I grew up in another world, in the 1940s and 50s, when cigarettes served not only as a comfort for the lonely but a powerful social glue. People offered each other cigarettes, and lights, indoors and out, in bars, restaurants, workplaces and living rooms, to the point where tobacco smoke became, for better or worse, the scent of home. My parents smoked; one of my grandfathers could roll a cigarette with one hand; my aunt, who was eventually to die of lung cancer, taught me how to smoke when I was a teenager. And the government seemed to approve. It wasnt till 1975 that the armed forces stopped including cigarettes along with food rations.

          As more affluent people gave up the habit, the war on smoking which was always presented as an entirely benevolent effort began to look like a war against the working class. When the break rooms offered by employers banned smoking, workers were forced outdoors, leaning against walls to shelter their cigarettes from the wind. When working-class bars went non-smoking, their clienteles dispersed to drink and smoke in private, leaving few indoor sites for gatherings and conversations. Escalating cigarette taxes hurt the poor and the working class hardest. The way out is to buy single cigarettes on the streets, but strangely enough the sale of these loosies is largely illegal. In 2014 a Staten Island man, Eric Garner, was killed in a chokehold by city police for precisely this crime.

          Why do people smoke? I once worked in a restaurant in the era when smoking was still permitted in break rooms, and many workers left their cigarettes burning in the common ashtray so they could catch a puff whenever they had a chance to, without bothering to relight. Everything else they did was done for the boss or the customers; smoking was the only thing they did for themselves. In one of the few studies of why people smoke, a British sociologist found smoking among working-class women was associated with greater responsibilities for the care of family members again suggesting a kind of defiant self-nurturance.

          When the notion of stress was crafted in the mid-20th century, the emphasis was on the health of executives, whose anxieties presumably outweighed those of the manual labourer who had no major decisions to make. It turns out, however, that stress measured by blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol increases as you move down the socioeconomic scale, with the most stress inflicted on those who have the least control over their work. In the restaurant industry, stress is concentrated among the people responding to the minute-by-minute demands of customers, not those who sit in offices discussing future menus. Add to these workplace stresses the challenges imposed by poverty and you get a combination that is highly resistant to, for example, anti-smoking propaganda as Linda Tirado reported about her life as a low-wage worker with two jobs and two children: I smoke. Its expensive. Its also the best option. You see, I am always, always exhausted. Its a stimulant. When I am too tired to walk one more step, I can smoke and go for another hour. When I am enraged and beaten down and incapable of accomplishing one more thing, I can smoke and I feel a little better, just for a minute. It is the only relaxation I am allowed.

          Nothing has happened to ease the pressures on low-wage workers. On the contrary, if the old paradigm of a blue-collar job was 40 hours a week, an annual two-week vacation and benefits such as a pension and health insurance, the new expectation is that one will work on demand, as needed, without benefits or guarantees. Some surveys now find a majority of US retail staff working without regular schedules on call for when an employer wants them to come and unable to predict how much they will earn. With the rise in just in time scheduling, it becomes impossible to plan ahead: will you have enough money to pay the rent? Who will take care of the children? The consequences of employee flexibility can be just as damaging as a programme of random electric shocks applied to caged laboratory animals.

          Sometime in the early to mid-00s, demographers noticed an unexpected rise in the death rates of poor white Americans. This was not supposed to happen. For almost a century, the comforting American narrative was that better nutrition and medical care would guarantee longer lives for all. It was especially not supposed to happen to whites who, in relation to people of colour, have long had the advantage of higher earnings, better access to healthcare, safer neighbourhoods and freedom from the daily insults and harms inflicted on the darker skinned. But the gap between the life expectancies of blacks and whites has been narrowing. The first response of some researchers themselves likely to be well above the poverty level was to blame the victims: didnt the poor have worse health habits? Didnt they smoke?

          In late 2015, the British economist Angus Deaton won the Nobel prize for work he had done with Anne Case, showing that the mortality gap between wealthy white men and poor ones was widening at a rate of one year a year, and slightly less for women. Smoking could account for only one fifth to one third of the excess working-class deaths. The rest were apparently attributable to alcoholism, opioid addiction and actual suicide as opposed to metaphorically killing oneself through unwise lifestyle choices.

          Why the excess mortality among poor white Americans? In the last few decades, things have not been going well for working-class people of any colour. I grew up in an America where a man with a strong back and a strong union could reasonably expect to support a family on his own without a college degree. By 2015, those jobs were long gone, leaving only the kind of work once relegated to women and people of colour available in areas such as retail, landscaping and delivery truck driving. This means those in the bottom 20% of the white income distribution face material circumstances like those long familiar to poor blacks, including erratic employment and crowded, hazardous living spaces. Poor whites always had the comfort of knowing that someone was worse off and more despised than they were; racial subjugation was the ground under their feet, the rock they stood upon, even when their own situation was deteriorating. That slender reassurance is shrinking.

          There are some practical reasons why whites are likely to be more efficient than blacks at killing themselves. For one thing, they are more likely to be gun owners, and white men favour gunshot as a means of suicide. For another, doctors, undoubtedly acting on stereotypes of non-whites as drug addicts, are more likely to prescribe powerful opioid painkillers to whites. Pain is endemic among the blue-collar working class, from waitresses to construction workers, and few people make it past 50 without palpable damage to their knees, back or shoulders. As opioids became more expensive and closely regulated, users often made the switch to heroin which, being illegal, can vary widely in strength, leading to accidental overdoses.

          Affluent reformers are perpetually frustrated by the unhealthy habits of the poor, but it is hard to see how problems arising from poverty and damaging work conditions could be cured by imposing the doctrine of personal responsibility. I have no objections to efforts encouraging people to stop smoking or add more vegetables to their diets. But the class gap in mortality will not be closed by tweaking individual tastes. This is an effort that requires concerted action on a vast scale: a welfare state to alleviate poverty; environmental clean-up of, for example, lead in drinking water; access to medical care including mental health services; occupational health reform to reduce disabilities inflicted by work.

          The wealthier classes will also benefit from these measures, but what they need right now is a little humility. We will all die whether we slake our thirst with kombucha or Coca-Cola, whether we run five miles a day or remain confined to our trailer homes, whether we dine on quinoa or KFC. This is the human condition. Its time we began facing it together.

          This is an edited extract from Natural Causes, by Barbara Ehrenreich, published by Granta on 12 April at 16.99. To order a copy for 14.44, go to or call 0330 333 6846.

          Commenting on this piece? If you would like your comment to be considered for inclusion on Weekend magazines letters page in print, please email, including your name and address (not for publication).

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          Anna Campbells father: I dont think I had any right to stop her fighting in Syria

          Dirk Campbell was shocked when his 26-year-old daughter said she was going to join Kurdish forces in Syria. Following her death in action, he talks about her journey from idealist to freedom fighter

          When Anna Campbell told her father of herplan to join Kurdish forces fighting Isis, hemade a joke that he will forever regret. It was May last year, and the 26-year-old had travelled from her home in Bristol to his, in Lewes, East Sussex, to break the news.

          By then, I knew enough to know that it would imperil her life, says Dirk Campbell, 67, but all I could think of to say was: Well, Anna, its been nice knowing you. I think I was trying to be funny, but she just looked miffed. I think she wanted me to engage with it and either go, Oh, how wonderful, or to try to argue her out of it. But I sort of just accepted it. Tenmonths later, she is dead.

          Anna Campbell died on 15 March when her position was struck by a Turkish missile as she and five other female soldiers helped to evacuate civilians from the besieged city of Afrin in northern Syria. She was one of eight British nationals killed fighting alongside the Kurdish Peoples Protection Units (YPG) since the first foreign volunteers arrived in the autumn of 2014.

          People have called Anna a hero and a martyr, her sister Sara says. But whats really difficult for the public to fathom is that she was also this big walking bundle of love: idealist, activist, dedicated bookworm, lover of insects, storyteller, creator of everlasting childhoods

          Dirk Campbell: I was really proud of her. She was a 26-year-old woman. I had to trust her. Photograph: Teri Pengilley for the Guardian

          Yet it was as a soldier that Anna died, a beaten-up AK-47 in her hand and a pair of old trainers on her feet. Having smuggled herself into Syria, after being recruited by Kurdish activists online, she had signed up with the Kurdish Womens Protection Units (YPJ) all-female affiliates of the YPG, a guerrilla group in which officers are elected by their troops.

          She gave her life defending Kurdish-held territory from a Turkish invasion. Some might call it someone elses war. To Anna, her family says, it was personal.

          It was almost as if she was searching for the perfect way of expressing all the values she held closest humanitarian, ecological, feminist and equal political representation, says Dirk. Those were the issues she came to dedicate her life to, and she came to the conclusion that Rojava was where she had to go.

          This Kurdish stronghold in northern Syria is in the throes of revolution. Inspired by the ideology of Abdullah calan, the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey, and triggered by 2011s Arab spring, people have organised themselves into grassroots assemblies and co-operatives, declaring their autonomy from the state and their wish for real democracy. Anti-capitalist, Marxist and feminist ideas are flourishing, including a system of co-presidentship whereby a man and a woman share power at every level.

          We were shocked when she told us she was going there, says Dirk, a silver-haired man with a warm smile. But we werent surprised.

          Anna was 11 when Dirk realised there was something different about her. It seems a small thing, but Iremember when she was at school she protected a bumblebee from being tormented by other kids, he says. She did it with such strength of will that they ridiculed her. But she didnt care. She was absolutely single-minded when it came to whatshe believed in.

          We are sitting in the living room ofDirks flat, where three of Annas five sisters and her brother have gathered to support their dad. Sophia, at 28 the eldest sister, brings tea. A gallery of obscure musical instruments hang along the wall, all of which Dirk, a folk musician and composer who was a member of the seminal prog band Egg, can play. Books on ecology, veganism, philosophy and politics some Kurdish line the bookshelf.

          The Campbell household was one where politics was always discussed. Her mother Adrienne and I were once arrested for staging a sit-in in Boots after they moved the HQ to a Swiss tax haven, Dirk chuckles.

          Most of her early interest in activism came from Adrienne, he says. I remember in 2011, they went to a demonstration at the Houses of Parliament to commemorate the first Suffragette protest. They stormed the Houses of Parliament in Edwardian clothes.

          But really, friends say, it was when Anna went to university in Sheffield to study English and French that those seeds of political activism began to sprout. The coalition had just started and the government began introducing cuts and increasing fees, recalls one friend, who prefers not to be named. It was a big thing and there were student occupations all over the country.

          She was soon reading less of her beloved English classics in favour of books about anarchism, feminism and ecology. She became vegan and dropped out of university after her first year because, as Dirk puts it, she was much more interested in doing what she was passionate about.

          Anna with her mother Adrienne, who died from cancer in 2012. Photograph: Family handout

          That same year, 2012, Adrienne died of breast cancer four years after being diagnosed. Anna, then 21, threw herself deeper into the life she had chosen. She had started training as a plumber, but was increasingly drawn to anti-fascist, animal and human rights protests across Europe. She became an anarchist, too, and had the letters ACAB (standing for the punk-era slogan All coppers are bastards) tattooed on her ribcage. She was one of the first people to go into the Jungle in Calais to protect refugees from the gendarmes, says Dirk. She wrote letters to prisoners. She gave blood, was a hunt saboteur, protested the Dale Farm eviction and would always rope me into playing the Highland bagpipes at prison demos.

          In 2015, she was beaten unconscious at an anti-fascist march. She told me a woman had been dragged into the crowd by some fascists and no one was helping her, recalls sister Rose, 24. So Anna covered her face so they wouldnt know she was female and ran in head first after this woman. The fascists beat her to the ground with sticks until a policeman dragged her off.

          By the summer of 2017, her attentions had turned towards the Middle East, where the war in Syria was entering a bloody new phase. The YPG/J, backed by US airstrikes, had all but flushed Isis from large swaths of Syrias north. But, with the jihadi group now on the run, Turkey saw an opportunity to finally cleanse its borderlands of the Kurdish forces and their revolution. Ankara has long-argued that the YPG/J is linked to its own insurgent group, the Kurdistan Workers party (PKK). The US and EU, however, do not consider the YPG terrorists, and have supported them since 2014.

          With the Kurds fight for existence now on two fronts, Annas mind was made up. She didnt tell her friends of her plans, just her family. She made them promise not to tell a soul. Of course, I was seriously worried, says Dirk. Then, the day that she flew out, the Turks bombed a YPJ position and killed 12 women. Ipanicked.

          Over the months, Anna stayed inregular touch, sending texts, WhatsApp voice messages and the odd call when she could. The thing is, whenever Anna called, she gave us a false sense of security, says Dirk. Every time she would say: Hiya, everythings fine. Im just growing vegetables, sitting at a lookout post. Im not in any fighting. Its all a bit boring, really. We thought she wasnt actually in any danger, and that she was coming back in a few months.

          What he didnt know was that she had, in fact, been deployed to Dier ez-Zor, the stage for Isiss bitter last stand. I think if I had known that she was facing lethal fire I would not have been able to sleep, says Dirk. I would have tried to get there, to be with her. After all, whos going to fire on an unarmed white-haired old man?

          Then, on 20 January, Turkish-backed rebels attacked the Kurdish city of Afrin. It was like nothing Id ever seen, another British YPJ fighter, who asked to be known only by her nom de guerre, Ruken Renas, told me from her frontline position last week. The bombing was really heavy, especially just before the city fell. They hit the hospital; people were fleeing. It was chaos. Hundreds died.

          Anna (on right) with a fellow YPJ fighter in northern Syria. Photograph: YPJ/PA

          Nevertheless, Anna was determined to help defend the revolution she had joined. She dyed her blond hair black, and begged her commanders to let her go to Afrin. Finally, they gave in. Two weeks later, she was killed.

          When Dirk thinks about the afternoon when Anna told him she was going to war, emotions conflict. I should have taken her far more seriously, he says. I should have got on the internet and looked up everything that was going on. I just didnt know enough about it. All I knew was that it was a war zone. Perhaps I could have stopped her.

          He pauses for a moment. But, at the same time, I was really proud of her. I dont think I had any right to stop her. She was a 26-year-old woman. I had to trust her.

          Of course, there is still the issue ofAnnas body. The Campbells want it back, but with Afrin now under Turkish control, they arent sure where to begin. Theyre not going to be putting bodies in a morgue waiting for someone to identify them, says Dirk. Theyve probably collected them all up, dumped them in a truck and buried them in a mass grave, which means that if shes going to be repatriated, itll depend on DNA evidence. That will take a very long time. There will be a lot of bodies to examine.

          In the meantime, he will commemorate his daughter by continuing her fight. I would be betraying Annas memory if I didnt do everything in my power to bring the Kurds plight to the attention of the world. Something must be done. And it needs to be done now, before anyone elses children are killed.

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          Funds double for orphans-to-be

          Image copyright Family handout
          Image caption Ella, 14, and 16-year-old Louis Maley face being orphaned after the death of their father and mother’s terminal cancer diagnosis

          Thousands of pounds have been raised for a brother and sister who face being orphaned.

          Kate Smith set up a fundraising page for Louis and Ella Maley after the death of their father and their mother’s terminal cancer diagnosis.

          Their mother Emma, 40, was given the news in February. Her partner of 18 years, Paul Maley, from Solihull, died on 8 March after suffering a stroke.

          Ms Smith wanted to raise £5,000 but has more than doubled that in three days.

          She said she was “lost for words” at finding out how much has been raised.

          In a post on social media, Ms Smith, Emma’s cousin, urged people to keep on giving.

          “This is incredible, thank you so much to every single person that has donated.”

          Image copyright Family picture
          Image caption Emma and Paul Maley, who had been together for 18 years, were due to get married in March

          Ms Smith, from Water Orton in Warwickshire, revealed on the fundraising site that Emma had secondary breast cancer and has been given only months to live.

          “Ella is my god-daughter – she is autistic and will need full support and care for many years to come, and this is one of the reasons for setting up this page.

          “This tragic story has touched so many people who want to try and do something to help Emma and the children.”

          Mr Maley had been found to have an arteriovenous malformation, a tangle of blood vessels on his brain, after he collapsed about 18 months ago.

          It is thought he was previously unaware of it but had been due to have an operation on 19 March.

          Emma was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 but after chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a hysterectomy doctors discovered it had spread, causing secondary breast cancer which has spread to her liver.

          Related Topics

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          States Are Passing Laws Telling Women Abortion Can Be Reversed. But That’s Unproven.

          The tone of the website is filled with urgency. Women who have taken the first dose of the “abortion pill” — actually two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, taken over the span of several days to terminate a pregnancy — are exhorted to call right away if they regret their decision.

          “There is an effective process for reversing the abortion pill, called abortion pill reversal,” the site claims.

          Elsewhere, bolded and in all capital letters, the site practically screams: “IT MAY NOT BE TOO LATE, IF YOU CALL QUICKLY.”


          The problem? No credible research backs those claims, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has dismissed them outright as bad science. There is no quality evidence that taking the hormone progesterone after a first dose of the abortion pill can undo the process. 

          That hasn’t stopped so-called “abortion reversal” laws from quietly cropping up around the country, based on little more than conjecture. Last week, Idaho joined Arkansas, South Dakota and Utah in passing a law requiring that medical providers tell every woman who takes the abortion pill that the procedure can be stopped halfway through.

          The authors of these bills rely on small case studies that have been disputed by OB-GYNs — insisting time and again that they simply want to give women more information. The laws are predicated on the idea, disputed by substantial research, that women who have abortions frequently regret their decisions — a common tactic used by anti-abortion activists who ignore studies showing that being denied an abortion tends to harm women’s mental health more than getting one.

          We should all be concerned when our government forces doctors to recommend an experimental therapy — without making it clear that it’s experimental. Dr. Daniel Grossman, Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health

          “I think it’s one thing to exaggerate the risks of abortion, but it’s far more concerning when a state codifies into law a medical treatment that is completely unproven,” Dr. Daniel Grossman, an OB-GYN and director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, told HuffPost.

          “We should all be concerned when our government forces doctors to recommend an experimental therapy — without making it clear that it’s experimental.” 

          A Shaky Claim

          The organization Abortion Pill Reversal describes itself as “a network of over 300 physicians worldwide to assist women that call our hotline.” Grossman calls it a crisis pregnancy center, a group that primarily aims to dissuade women from having abortions.

          APR was founded by Dr. George Delgado, a family medicine physician, who in 2012 published a small case series in the journal Annals of Pharmacology purporting to show successful abortion reversal in 4 in 6 women who were given progesterone after taking a dose of mifepristone, the first of the two pills needed for a medication abortion.

          The theory goes that giving women extra progesterone — a hormone that helps support pregnancy — will “outnumber” and “outcompete” mifepristone and prevent it from working, APR says. Women thenrefrain from taking misoprostol tablets — the second drug used in a medication abortion — which affect the cervix and uterus.

          “In all biologic systems where two molecules compete for the same receptor the way mifepristone and progesterone do, when the concentration of one is increased, it will tend to win the battle at the receptor,” Delgado told HuffPost. “Therefore, it makes biologic sense that giving supplemental progesterone can block the effects of mifepristone.”

          Delgado also told HuffPost that a larger case series is due out this month showing “successful reversal rates” between 60 and 70 percent among women given progesterone orally or via injection.

          But groups like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have been unequivocal in their stance that abortion reversal is simply not supported by any kind of credible science. 

          Delgado’s small study was not overseen by an institutional review board, ACOG says, nor was it subject to any kind of ethical review. Moreover, according to ACOG, case series are the weakest form of medical study. They have no controls and are largely descriptive.  

          This is just meant to continue the stigma around the supposed harms abortion has on women. Dr. Sarp Aksel, ACOG Gellhaus Fellow

          “The proponents of this idea — and it’s a theory — basically took a guess and said to themselves, ‘Because mifepristone is an anti-progesterone, then maybe administering progesterone can stop the effects of the medication abortion,‘” Dr. Sarp Aksel, ACOG Gellhaus Fellow, told HuffPost. “It’s all conjecture. None of it has been ― I don’t even want to say ‘proven’ ― because there hasn’t even been a proper study set up to potentially identify some sort of association.”

          And because it’s an untested medical practice, no one is tracking what happens to any woman who may try and reverse her abortion — or what becomes of her fetus.

          How Bad Science Becomes Policy

          Numerous states have laws requiring that women be told mistruths about abortion as part of scripted counseling sessions. Some overstate the risk to a woman’s future fertility, while others assert there is a definitive link between abortion and subsequent breast cancer ― a claim that research studies do not bear out. 

          In many ways, the intended effect of those laws is clear: to convince women it is risky to have an abortion, even though that is not true.

          The purpose of abortion reversal laws is less obvious — perhaps because many lawmakers seem to earnestly believe abortion reversal proponents’ claims are true, or at least might be true. 

          “Abortion rights opponents are banking on the idea that there is the off chance that stopping a medication abortion is possible and banking on the fact that it’s hard to prove a negative,” Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues manager with the Guttmacher Institute, the policy and research organization that focuses on reproductive rights, told HuffPost. 

          “A doctor in a white coat can be persuasive,” echoed Grossman, who has published numerous studies on the safety of medication abortions. Since medication abortions were approved by the FDA in 2000 as an alternative to in-clinic procedures, states have sought to pass restrictions limiting their accessibility.

          But reproductive rights advocates also see a broader effort to promote the falsehood that the majority of women are unsure of their decision to terminate a pregnancy — and that many are anguished and regretful after the fact. Abortion Pill Reversal’s website has an entire section dedicated to anonymous “stories of regret.”

          “This is just meant to continue the stigma around the supposed harms abortion has on women,” Aksel said. “I don’t think it’s based on anything scientific, but it prays on common misconceptions about women being unsure about their abortions and women regretting their abortions.”

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          Rancher Arrested for Murdering Son, Dumping Him in a Manure Pile

          It was such a god-awful thing to happen in Gods country. But the 7 11 Ranch, under the shadow of Indian Head Rock, kept its gruesome secrets for two yearsuntil dozens of cops, wildlife investigators and cadaver dogs swarmed the mountain desert property last July with a search warrant, looking for the man who had stood to inherit it.

          His 68-year-old mother made several references to a bear cave before she finally told police to start digging in the corral. Once they found his remains, wrapped in plastic and duct tape, she told investigators that she was the one who killed him. She told them she shot him in his sleep, and then hid his body in a pile of manure.

          A year later, he was moved, tossed into a five-foot-deep hole along with a barrel of goat heads.

          Jake Millison had confided in his friends to look to his own family if anything bad happened to him. So four days after he went quiet, thats what they did.

          On May 20th, 2015, Millisons buddies drove the 20 minutes from Gunnison east to the 7 11, and were alarmed to see Millisons truck, his motorcyles, and his beloved dog, Elmo, on the property. They found his mom, Deborah Rudibaugh, and sister in the corral carrying shovels. A tractor with a backhoe attached to it was parked in the corner. Rudibaugh told them Millison had left spur of the moment in the middle of the night for Nevada.

          Max Matheny remembers that he and his friends reported Millison missing to the Gunnison County Sheriffs Office soon after that, but no one would listen.We were told that there was nothing they could do because Jake was a grown man and could leave town if he wanted to, and they hadn't found a body out in plain sight.

          They just brushed us off, added Millisons childhood friend, Kyle Palmer. But we knew something was wrong.

          Bad Blood

          The 29-year-old Millison, a hard-core jiu-jitsu athlete, had been the caretaker of the 7 11, living there with Rudibaugh. The three-million-dollar mountainous ranchwith its six buildings, creeks and horse trailshad been willed to Rudibaugh by her husband and Millisons stepdad, Rudy Rudibaugh, who died in 2009. Later, in Deborah Rudibaughs own will, she left the ranch to Millison, his older sister, Stephaine Jackson, and one of Rudys grown children.

          Just a month before Milligan went missing, she had a change of heart and wrote him and her stepson out of it, leaving the entire 700-acre spread to her daughter. During her confession, she told investigators that Milligan had found the new will and did not want to share it with anybody else.

          His friends, though, say Milligan never wanted the ranch. He wasnt into it, Palmer told The Beast.

          Stephaine and her husband, David Jackson, had moved from Denver to Gunnison to help take care of the ranch, but friends tell The Daily Beast that a toxic relationship had developed between the couple and Millison. Things became so heated, they said Millison often stayed at their houses to avoid them. In the affidavit, Jacksons interviews with sheriff investigators describe vicious arguments over where to plow the snow that piled up on ranch grounds and disagreements about a toolbox, which Jackson claimed Millison had sold to buy a truck. From these accounts, it appeared that hatred was beginning to boil over, with Millison barring David Jackson from the property with a restraining order and Stephaine Jackson taking her husbands side.

          Authorities believe what followed was a cold-blooded murder and cover-up. Millisons own family told a string of contradicting tales to lead sheriffsincluding that Millison had been an out-of-control druggie who abused his mom and stole off to Vegas in search of a mixed martial arts career. Max Matheny tells a different story to The Beast: Jake was not on any drugs. He was in good shape, spent a lot of time at the gym and ate healthy. He rarely ever even drank. I would say I saw him drink less than ten times over the entire time I knew him. Most of his pals report he rarely talked to them about his family problems.

          Other friends who lived beneath David and Stephaine in their apartment building, and who wish not to be identified, say that they were loud and always arguing. One friend, who wished not to be identified, tells The Daily Beast that around the time Millison disappeared, David was leaving the building at weird hours of the night.

          They were burning his clothes within a month after he disappeared, said Palmer. Why would they do that?

          Where Is Jake Millison?

          In October of 2015, five months after Millison stopped answering his phone calls and text messages, the Facebook page Where is Jake Millison? popped up with photos and home-grown clues. The page became a community where people who cared about the case could trade information. Its where friends realized that weeks after Millison went missing, David Jackson had painted his prized Harley Davidson motorcycle and was selling it in the town trade newspaper.

          The family started selling off Jake's things online and we told the authorities about it, said Max Matheny. Deb and Steph's stories were constantly changing and we knew they were lying.

          Within weeks of the Facebook pages genesis, Millisons part-time sleuth buddies also posted a story from a ranch hand who claimed he saw Millisons family burning a mattress on the 700-acre property.

          This is just plain weird, wrote one friend. The fact that theyre burning things really makes my spidey senses tingle, wrote another.

          Authorities had been out to the property asking questions, but Matheny says they bought the story they were told out there.

          A Family Behind Bars

          On March 2, 2018, seven months after her confession, Rudibaugh was arrested for murdering her son. Stephaine Jackson and her husband David have also been jailed for the crimeStephaine for several charges, including first degree murder. Among Davids charges are accessory to murder and tampering with physical evidence

          The 30-page arrest affidavit says that last July, Rudibaugh told sheriffs she shot Milligan in the top of the head with her Lady Smith revolver while he was sleeping. I was standing there with a gun in my hand, she is reported as saying. And I had a chance of doing it or not doing it and I remember the last thing I asked myself was, do you want to spend the rest of your life in fear of him.

          The murder weapon is still missing. Rudibaugh says she threw it in the Blue Mesa Reservoir dam, where she knew the water is the deepest.

          The arrests were vindication for Millisons network of friends, who begged authorities and media to pay attention to what was happening in the small town four hours west of Denver.

          The arrest affidavit lists more than a dozen of Millisons friends and the Facebook page as a critical piece of the investigation.

          Tall Tales

          The affidavit reveals that in the weeks after Millisons disappearance, his mom was offering up a host reasons for why Millison would want to leave the ranchclaiming that her son wanted a princess-like relationship…Moms supposed to do all the work and do all the laundry and hes supposed to do whatever he dang well pleases. Rudibaugh said that maybe hed left for either California or Nevada to find work. Or maybe it was just to Nevada to get serious about jiu-jitsu. Or maybe hed vanished to New Mexico to see his dad.

          By August, Rudibaugh finally reported her son as a missing person, telling the Gunnison County Sheriffs Office that the last time she saw him was the previous May 24th, when he took off in a dark truck with a mysterious friend who was not anyone she knew from town. Rudibaugh said her son was using cocaine to lose weight for his mixed martial arts, and had taken off with several of her books, including The Anarchists Cookbook, and How to Disappear Without Leaving a Trace.

          By November, with still no sign of Millison, she provided authorities with Millisons cell phone stored in a bag of rice because it had fallen into a ditch. His friends were coming to the ranch looking for him, she said. She was trying to keep them out of Millisons room.

          Stephaine Jacksons behavior was even more bizarre than her mothers. Her arrest affidavit reveals that days after Millison was murdered, she posted a cryptic message to her Facebook friends : Have you ever woken up to such awesome news you want to run outside screaming? Her best friend responded with No more jake? And then Only news wirth screaming haha.

          There are several theories about which member of the family did what. Rudibaugh has told investigators that she killed her son and moved his body by herself using a pulley, a wench and a four-wheeler along with her Yankee ingenuity and knowledge of physics and chemistry and stuff to do it.

          But she has stage 4 breast cancer and was coming off of gallbladder surgery. How could a person that frail have dragged a 170-pound body down the stairs to the manure pile all by herself?

          Stephaine Jackson says she only suspected her brother may have been murdered after she saw bones sticking out of the manure pile; however the affidavit says she was lying and actually knew about the murder immediatelybecause she was on her cellphone at 3:23 am deleting a message. Jakes last cellphone activity occurred at 2:29 am.

          According to the affidavit, Stephaine knew that she was the sole heir to the land, and thus was the only one of the three with a motive to get rid of him.

          The affidavit says David Jackson burned the bloody mattress, buried the body in the manure and then dug the hole in the corral.

          The gory details of his easy-going, soft-spoken friends death makes Palmer sick to his stomach. Ive come to the cold, hard fact that murder happens to people who dont deserve it. denver

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