Author Archive for Pharmboy

DNA testing companies offer telomere testing – but what does it tell you about aging and disease risk?

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DNA testing companies offer telomere testing – but what does it tell you about aging and disease risk?

A telomere age test kit from Telomere Diagnostics Inc. and saliva. collection kit from 23andMe. Anna Hoychuk/Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Patricia Opresko, University of Pittsburgh and Elise Fouquerel, Thomas Jefferson University

Over the past few years direct-to-consumer genetic tests that extract information from DNA in your chromosomes have become popular. Through a simple cheek swab, saliva collection or finger prick, companies offer the possibility of learning more about your family tree, ancestry, or risk of developing diseases such as Alzheimer’s or even certain cancers. More recently, some companies offer tests to measure the tips of chromosomes, called telomeres, to learn more about aging.

But what exactly are telomeres, what are telomere tests, and what are companies claiming they can tell you? Age based on your birthday versus your “telomere age”?

Telomeres play a big role in keeping our chromosomes and bodies healthy even though they make up only a tiny fraction of our total DNA. The Greek origins of the word telomere describes where to find them. “Telo” means “end” while “mere” means “part.” Telomeres cap both ends of all 46 chromosomes in each cell, and protect chromosomes from losing genetic material. They are often compared to the plastic tips at the ends of shoelaces that prevent fraying.

We are molecular biologists studying how chemicals, agents from the environment and metabolism damage telomeres and affect their lengths and function, and how damaged telomeres affect the health of our cells and genome. The idea of offering telomere length as part of a genetic test is intriguing since telomeres protect our genetic material. But equating telomere length with something as complex as aging struck us as tricky and overly simplistic.

Telomeres get shorter with each round of cell division. Kateryna Kon/Shutterstock.com

Link between telomere length and human diseases

Telomeres are important for human health and despite their protective…
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Consumer genetic testing customers stretch their DNA data further with third-party interpretation websites

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Consumer genetic testing customers stretch their DNA data further with third-party interpretation websites

If you’ve got the raw data, why not mine it for more info? Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Sarah Catherine Nelson, University of Washington

Back in 2016, Helen (a pseudonym) took three different direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic tests: AncestryDNA, 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA. She saw genetic testing as a way to enhance her paper trail genealogy research, and it panned out when she matched with several new relatives.

DTC companies extract DNA profiles from saliva samples users send in. Sarah Weldon/Shutterstock.com

Helen is one of over 26 million individuals who have reportedly taken a DTC genetic test. That’s a lot of spit in tubes being mailed to companies that promise customers information about their health, ancestry and family trees.

Notably, the search for genetic insights doesn’t always stop with the interpretations provided by the DTC companies. One of Helen’s matches on AncestryDNA told her how she could stretch her personal genomic information further: by downloading her raw genetic data, that long list of As, Cs, Gs and Ts at each of the DNA sites the DTC company measured, and then uploading it to third-party interpretation tools online such as GEDmatch and DNA.land to find more relatives.

Helen enthusiastically did so and joined Facebook groups dedicated to helping people use their genetic data to flesh out their family trees. While Helen wasn’t initially seeking health information, on these forums she learned about the third-party tool Promethease and decided to upload her data there as well. She thought, “Well, for five dollars – we’ll see what it says.”

Researchers don’t have a very clear or comprehensive picture of how DTC customers use their raw data and these kinds of third-party tools. As a genetics researcher interested in the ethical and social implications of genomics in research, clinical care and everyday life, I think it’s important to address this knowledge gap – particularly given questions about whether and to what extent these…
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DNA as you’ve never seen it before, thanks to a new nanotechnology imaging method

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DNA as you've never seen it before, thanks to a new nanotechnology imaging method

File 20190424 121241 96r4oz.jpeg?ixlib=rb 1.1

A map of DNA with the double helix colored blue, the landmarks in green, and the start points for copying the molecule in red. David Gilbert/Kyle Klein, CC BY-ND

Courtesy of David M. Gilbert, Florida State University

The first revealing image of DNA taken using X-ray diffraction. Raymond Gosling/King's College London

The helical DNA staircase. The building blocks of DNA, or bases, lie horizontally between the two spiraling strands. Richard Wheeler, CC BY-SA

For biologists everywhere, April 25 is auspicious. It is DNA Day and commemorates the date in 1953 when scientists Francis Crick, Rosalind Franklin, James Watson and Maurice Wilkins published seminal scientific papers describing the helical structure of the DNA molecule. In 2003, April 25 was used to announce the completion of the Human Genome Project. Now annual festivities on this day celebrate the molecule of life with new discoveries. What better time to provide a new picture of DNA.

I am DNA DAVE (or at least my license plate since 1984 says so), and one of the things my lab likes to do is to “see” DNA. We take images of DNA so that we can directly measure things that are difficult to quantify using indirect methods that usually involve sequencing the four chemical units of DNA, called bases.

For example, I would like to know where on each chromosome the process of DNA replication begins. Error-free duplication of DNA is essential for producing healthy cells. When this process is incomplete or disrupted, the result can cause cancer and other diseases.

In our image that familiar double helix staircase is not visible because this perspective is zoomed out – like looking at the map of a country versus a city. Also each of these molecules is equivalent…
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No cure for Alzheimer’s disease in my lifetime

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No cure for Alzheimer's disease in my lifetime

File 20190403 177181 1xjl0a1.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

In most cases, scientists are still unsure of what causes Alzheimer’s disease. FGC / Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Norman A. Paradis, Dartmouth College

Biogen recently announced that it was abandoning its late stage drug for Alzheimer’s, aducanumab, causing investors to lose billions of dollars.

They should not have been surprised.

Not only have there been more than 200 failed trials for Alzheimer’s, it’s been clear for some time that researchers are likely decades away from being able to treat this dreaded disease. Which leads me to a prediction: There will be no effective therapy for Alzheimer’s disease in my lifetime.

Clinically, I am an emergency physician. But my research interests include diagnostic biomarkers, which are molecular indicators of disease, and a diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s is something of a holy grail.

Alzheimer’s sits right at the confluence of a number unfortunate circumstances. Stick with me on this – it’s mostly bad news for anyone middle-aged or older, but there’s a reward of sorts at the end. If you understand why there won’t be much headway on Alzheimer’s, you’ll also understand a bit more why modern medicine has been having fewer breakthroughs on major diseases.

We don’t know what causes this disease

For decades it was widely believed that the cause of Alzheimer’s was the build-up of abnormal proteins called amyloid and Tau. These theories dominated the field and led some to believe we were on the verge of effective treatments – through preventing or removing these abnormal proteins. But had the theories been correct we would likely have had at least one or two positive clinical trials.

In retrospect, the multi-decade amyloid fixation looks like a mistake that could have been avoided. Although there is a correlation between amyloid and risk of Alzheimer’s, there are elderly people whose brains have significant amounts of the protein and yet are cognitively intact. Versions of this observation date back to at least the
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Marijuana is a lot more than just THC – a pharmacologist looks at the untapped healing compounds

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Marijuana is a lot more than just THC – a pharmacologist looks at the untapped healing compounds

File 20190311 86693 ga1zx.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Assorted cannabis bud strains. Roxana Gonzalez/Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of James David Adams, University of Southern California

Medical marijuana is legal in 33 states as of November 2018. Yet the federal government still insists marijuana has no legal use and is easy to abuse. In the meantime, medical marijuana dispensaries have an increasing array of products available for pain, anxiety, sex and more.

The glass counters and their jars of products in the dispensary resemble an 18th century pharmacy. Many strains for sale have evocative and magical names like Blue Dream, Bubba Kush and Chocolope. But what does it all mean? Are there really differences in the medical qualities of the various strains? Or, are the different strains with the fanciful names all just advertising gimmicks?

Rafael, a Chumash who shared Californian Native American cultural knowledge with anthropologists in the 1800s. Leon de Cessac

I am a professor in the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy. I have lived in California a long time and remember the Haight-Ashbury Summer of Love. While in graduate school, I worked with professor Alexander Shulgin, the father of designer drugs, who taught me the chemistry of medicinal plants. Afterwards, while a professor at USC, I learned Chumash healing from a Native American Chumash healer for 14 years from 1998 until 2012. She taught me how to make medicines from Californian plants, but not marijuana, which is not native to the U.S. Currently, I am teaching a course in medical marijuana to pharmacy students.

If there is one thing about marijuana that is certain: In small doses it can boost libido in men and women, leading to more sex. But can marijuana really be used for medical conditions?

What are cannabinoids?

New research is revealing that marijuana is more than just a source of cannabinoids, chemicals that may bind to cannabinoid receptors in our…
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Can a genetic test predict if you will develop Type 2 diabetes?

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Can a genetic test predict if you will develop Type 2 diabetes?

File 20190312 86703 cjfm0t.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

A woman uses a lancet on her finger to check her blood sugar level with a glucose meter. Behopeful/Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Mylynda Massart, University of Pittsburgh

When I got home after work I was surprised to find my husband and three children sitting by the television and watching the news. They had just learned that the direct to consumer genetic testing company 23andMe was now offering a report that assessed the customers’ risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. “Is it true?” my husband asked. “Can they now study my genes and predict whether I will get Type 2 diabetes?”

As a primary care physician who is exploring how to integrate genetic testing into traditional family medicine – a combination we now describe as precision medicine – I was excited to explain the science behind this new report and the barriers to using 23andMe’s new diabetes risk score in current clinical care.

As a family physician, I am eager to identify my patients most at risk for developing diabetes, as this is a very costly and debilitating disease with numerous health consequences such as kidney failure, heart disease, painful neuropathy and limb amputation. In the U.S. alone more than 30 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes and of these 7.2 million are undiagnosed and unaware of their condition. Another 84.1 million adults older than 18 are at high risk and considered prediabetic. So how did 23andMe calculate this risk score, and would it help the millions who were unaware of their state of health?

Calculating risk of Type 2 diabetes

The cost of diabetes. American Diabetes Association, CC BY-SA

As my family sat down to a carbohydrate-rich dinner of pasta, my famous pesto pizza rolls and a salad, I explained how this direct-to-consumer testing service was calculating the risk of this complex disease that is caused by the interaction of diet, environment and thousands…
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FDA approves promising new drug, called esketamine, for treatment-resistant depression

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FDA approves promising new drug, called esketamine, for treatment-resistant depression

File 20190220 148509 h4lja8.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

One in 3 people with severe depression do not respond to treatment. TZIDO SUN/Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Lee Hoffer, Case Western Reserve University

Treatment-resistant depression affects 1 in 3 of the estimated 16.2 million adults in the U.S. who have suffered at least one major depressive episode. For them, two or more therapies have failed and the risk of suicide is much greater. It’s a grim prognosis.

The chemical structure of esketamine.

The chemical structure of ketamine.

There are few therapies for depression that resists treatment, which is why the FDA granted this new drug application Fast Track and Breakthrough Therapy status. On March 5, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new treatment called esketamine.

On Feb. 12, 2019, I participated in the FDA review of this drug. Practically speaking, esketamine is essentially the same as ketamine, which is a pain killer with hallucinogenic effects and used illegally. As a member of the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee of the FDA, I voted with the majority of that panel 14-2, to approve esketamine only for people who have treatment-resistant depression.

For more than 20 years, I have researched illegal drug use and addiction. As a medical anthropologist, my work is oriented to understanding the perspectives and behaviors of people actively using illegal drugs. My research often involves fieldwork, which means participating in the lives of people as they go about their everyday routines. This has given me a personalized and practical outlook on illegal drug use. Many of the people I currently interview are heroin injectors who first started opioid use by misusing prescription drugs.

Not a street drug

But many drugs, especially those for the treatment of mental illness, have powerful effects on the central nervous system. How the drug…
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A cure for HIV? Feasible but not yet realized

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A cure for HIV? Feasible but not yet realized

File 20190306 100772 1hqbi4v.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), shown here as tiny purple spheres, causes the disease known as AIDS. Mark Ellisman and Tom Deerinck, National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research

Courtesy of Allison Webel, Case Western Reserve University

This week a team of scientists and physicians from the U.K. published news of a second HIV positive man, in London, who is in long-term (18-month) HIV remission after undergoing treatment for Hodgkins lymphoma. The unexpected success has launched a new round of discussion about a potential cure for HIV.

Since 2008, scientists have been trying to replicate the treatment that cured the “Berlin patient” of HIV. At the time, many in the field of HIV research were excited to learn that this man, who tested positive for the human immunodeficiency virus in Berlin and had recently undergone treatment for acute myeloid leukemia, appeared to have been cured of his HIV. Until now, success in replicating that cure has been limited.

What is HIV?

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. Since the virus was first discovered in the 1980s, more than 75 million people worldwide have been infected with HIV. Today, almost 37 million people live with HIV. Of these, about 1.1 million live in the U.S.

Infection with HIV almost always led to AIDS, which in turn was almost always fatal. The field was revolutionized in 1996 with the introduction of HIV anti-retroviral therapy medications. These drugs halt HIV from replicating and allow an infected person to regain a functioning immune system. These medications are so effective that today a person living with HIV has almost the same life expectancy of someone without HIV infection. However, these medications must be taken every day, have multiple distressing side effects, and can cost thousands of dollars each month.

Yet even with this life-extending treatment, a functional HIV cure, defined as when someone with HIV no longer tests positive for the virus and does not need to take these medications, has remained elusive.…
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Cancer: new DNA sequencing technique analyses tumours cell by cell to fight disease

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Cancer: new DNA sequencing technique analyses tumours cell by cell to fight disease

File 20190211 174861 59dmgg.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Illustration of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, showing lymphoblasts in blood. Kateryna Kon/Shutterstock

Courtesy of Alba Rodriguez-Meira, University of Oxford and Adam Mead, University of Oxford

A new DNA sequencing technique lets scientists track genetic errors in individual cancer cells. For the first time, they can reconstruct a tumour’s life history and understand how an error in a cell’s DNA led to the uncontrollable growth of a tumour. This new technology will help doctors understand how a particular cancer has evolved and personalise treatments for each patient, to make them more effective and successful.

We are made of billions of cells that work together to build every part of our body. Occasionally, one of these cells acquires an error in its genetic code and this error, or mutation, can sometimes make this abnormal single cell divide and grow faster than the healthy ones, causing a tumour to develop. During this process, cells can continue to evolve and accumulate many more mutations that make it more dangerous than the original one.

Previously, when researchers studied cancer, they used to take a piece of the tumour and analyse it as a whole. Without understanding the life history of each tumour, science could only give us an incomplete picture of the cancer, where the different cells are mixed and averaged, to get an idea of how dangerous the cancer was. But it didn’t tell us anything about how the tumour had evolved and what type of cells it was made of, making it hard for doctors to select the right treatment for each patient.

This is the reason many cancer treatments don’t work, and when they do, cancer sometimes regrows within a few months or years, coming back a lot more aggressive than the previous one and much more difficult to treat.

Seeing the whole picture

As the entire tumour couldn’t be beaten as a whole, five years ago, researchers started using a different strategy: divide and conquer. They began dividing the tumours into single cells…
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CBD: Rising star or popular fad?

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CBD: Rising star or popular fad?

File 20190129 108370 104hyle.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

CBD, made from hemp, is being hyped as treatment for pain, nausea and a variety of maladies. But studies so far do not show benefit in humans. ElRoi/Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Jenny Wilkerson, University of Florida and Lance McMahon, University of Florida

Cannabidiol, or CBD, has become a household name. On many social media sites, people suggest “but have you tried CBD oil?” on posts pertaining to any health-related issue.

CBD, a minor constituent of marijuana, is widely touted as nature’s miracle by CBD enthusiasts. It does not get people high, unlike marijuana’s main constituent, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, given the recent surge in its popularity, you’d think the molecule is magic.

We are behavioral pharmacology scientists, and we study how drugs act on the body. Specifically, we have an interest in developing new drugs for the treatment of pain that possess lessened drug abuse potential, and therapeutic interventions for drug abuse. Although there is scientific interest in the use of CBD for both pain and drug addiction, as well as many other medical indications, there is a lot that we still do not know about CBD.

CBD and THC: How do they work?

Drugs affect the body by binding and acting at various protein molecules, usually on the surface of the cells in the body, called receptors. These receptors then send signals that can impact bodily functions.

Marijuana has an effect on the body because many animals have receptors termed “cannabinoid receptors.” There are two known cannabinoid receptors that are responsible for the effects of marijuana. Only one of them, the cannabinoid type 1 receptor (CB1R), is responsible for the high from marijuana. These cannabinoid receptors are predominately found on nerve cells located throughout the body, including the brain.

CBD doesn’t get people high because CBD does not bind or act on CB1R. CBD also does not bind or act on the other cannabinoid receptor, the cannabinoid type 2 receptor (CB2R), predominately found on immune cells. In contrast, THC binds and activates…
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Phil's Favorites

Voices from an age of uncertain work - Americans miss stability and a shared sense of purpose in their jobs

 

Voices from an age of uncertain work – Americans miss stability and a shared sense of purpose in their jobs

Work isn’t as stable as it once was. fizkes/Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of David L. Blustein, Boston College

On the surface, the well-being of the American worker seems rosy.
Unemployment in the U.S. hovers near a 50-year low, and employers describe growing shortages of workers in a wide array of fields.

But looking beyond the numbers tells a different story. My new book, “...



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Zero Hedge

Camouflaged Israeli Ex-PM Pictured Entering Epstein's Mansion The Same Day As Hotties Show Up

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak was photographed entering Jeffrey Epstein's Manhattan mansion in January, 2016 wearing a camouflage scarf around his face - the same day that a bunch of young women showed up, according to the Daily Mail.

...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Silver ETF (SLV) Testing Dual Breakout Resistance

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Silver (NYSEARCA: SLV) has been in a bit of a slumber when compared to the price action for Gold (NYSEARCA: GLD).

Precious metals bulls hope that this about to change, as bullish action from Silver is necessary to confirm any bull market / move in metals.

Today’s chart takes a closer look at the Silver ETF (SLV) on a weekly basis. As you can see, Silver is up 5 percent this week alone.

This is good news for metals bulls. But this rally isn’t confirming a breakout just yet.

As you can see in the chart below, SLV has been trading between support (1) ...



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Insider Scoop

Analysts Weigh In On Netflix's Rocky Quarter

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) reported second-quarter results highlighted by an uncharacteristic decline in U.S. subscribers while international subscriber adds missed expectations. Here is a summary of how some of the Street's top analysts reacted to the print.

The Analysts

Mor...



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Digital Currencies

Bitcoin Breaks Back Below $10k, Crypto-Crash Accelerates As Asia Opens

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Update 2010ET: Having briefly stabilized after this morning's weakness, cryptos are tumbling once again as Asian markets open.

Bitcoin has broken below $10,000 again...

*  *  *

While all eyes are on Bitcoin as it slides back towards $10,000, the real mover in the last 12 hours has been Ethereum after...



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Biotech

DNA testing companies offer telomere testing - but what does it tell you about aging and disease risk?

Reminder: We're is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

DNA testing companies offer telomere testing – but what does it tell you about aging and disease risk?

A telomere age test kit from Telomere Diagnostics Inc. and saliva. collection kit from 23andMe. Anna Hoychuk/Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Patricia Opresko, University of Pittsburgh and Elise Fouquerel, ...



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ValueWalk

Professor Shubha Ghosh On The Current State Of Gene Editing

 

Professor Shubha Ghosh On The Current State Of Gene Editing

Courtesy of Jacob Wolinsky, ValueWalk

ValueWalk’s Q&A session with Professor Shubha Ghosh, a professor of law and the director of the Syracuse Intellectual Property Law Institute. In this interview, Professor Ghosh discusses his background, the Human Genome Project, the current state of gene editing, 3D printing for organ operations, and gene editing regulation.

...

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Chart School

Gold Gann Angle Update

Courtesy of Read the Ticker.

Charts show us the golden brick road to high prices.

GLD Gann Angle has been working since 2016. Higher prices are expected. Who would say anything different, and why and how?

Click for popup. Clear your browser cache if image is not showing.



The GLD very wide channel shows us the way.
- Conservative: Tag the 10 year rally starting in 2001 to 2019 and it forecasts $750 GLD (or $7500 USD Gold Futures) in 10 years.
- Aggressive: Tag the 5 year rally starting in 1976 to 2019  and it forecasts $750 GLD (or $7500 USD Gold Futures) in 5 years.

Click for popup. Clear your browser cache if ima...



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Members' Corner

Despacito - How to Make Money the Old-Fashioned Way - SLOWLY!

Are you ready to retire?  

For most people, the purpose of investing is to build up enough wealth to allow you to retire.  In general, that's usually enough money to reliably generate a year's worth of your average income, each year into your retirement so that that, plus you Social Security, should be enough to pay your bills without having to draw down on your principle.

Unfortunately, as the last decade has shown us, we can't count on bonds to pay us more than 3% and the average return from the stock market over the past 20 years has been erratic - to say the least - with 4 negative years (2000, 2001, 2002 and 2008) and 14 positives, though mostly in the 10% range on the positives.  A string of losses like we had from 2000-02 could easily wipe out a decades worth of gains.

Still, the stock market has been better over the last 10 (7%) an...



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Mapping The Market

It's Not Capitalism, it's Crony Capitalism

A good start from :

It's Not Capitalism, it's Crony Capitalism

Excerpt:

The threat to America is this: we have abandoned our core philosophy. Our first principle of this nation as a meritocracy, a free-market economy, where competition drives economic decision-making. In its place, we have allowed a malignancy to fester, a virulent pus-filled bastardized form of economics so corrosive in nature, so dangerously pestilent, that it presents an extinction-level threat to America – both the actual nation and the “idea” of America.

This all-encompassing mutant corruption saps men’s souls, crushes opportunities, and destroys economic mobility. Its a Smash & Grab system of ill-gotten re...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of September 11th, 2017

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...



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Promotions

Free eBook - "My Top Strategies for 2017"

 

 

Here's a free ebook for you to check out! 

Phil has a chapter in a newly-released eBook that we think you’ll enjoy.

In My Top Strategies for 2017, Phil's chapter is Secret Santa’s Inflation Hedges for 2017.

This chapter isn’t about risk or leverage. Phil present a few smart, practical ideas you can use as a hedge against inflation as well as hedging strategies designed to assist you in staying ahead of the markets.

Some other great content in this free eBook includes:

 

·       How 2017 Will Affect Oil, the US Dollar and the European Union

...

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About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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About Ilene:

Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. She manages the site market shadows, archives, more. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.

Market Shadows >>