Posts Tagged ‘astrology’

Birth month (hence month of conception) linked to disease risk (in New York)

June 10, 2015

Back to Astrology.

M. R. Boland, Z. Shahn, D. Madigan, G. Hripcsak, N. P. Tatonetti. Birth Month Affects Lifetime Disease Risk: A Phenome-Wide Method.Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 2015; DOI:10.1093/jamia/ocv046

This is not so much a medical study as a data analysis of the health records of 1.7 million people in New York. It is about correlations and not about causations but could, of course, lead to insights about causations. While the study and all the headlines focus on month of birth, I note that month of birth automatically implies month of conception. I would have thought that there was a greater chance of any genetic effects being associated with the time of conception rather than the time of birth. And if the time of conception is really of some significance, then it begs the question whether the “quality” of sperm or ova are affected by time or follow some seasonal or cyclic pattern.

In any event, the association of season with health suggests that the sun is playing a role. And if the sun can play a role (gravitational?) then so can the moon and other celestial bodies. Which sounds suspiciously like Astrology.

The study finds

  • Overall, babies born in October had the highest risk of disease, and those born in May had the lowest risk.
  • Asthma risk was highest for July and October babies.
  • November babies were at the highest risk for developing ADHD.
  • Babies born in March faced the highest risk for heart problems including atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure and mitral valve disorder.
  • Winter babies were at a higher risk of neurological problems.

Babies born in October would have been conceived in December and those born in May would have been conceived in July. And that means that conception during the summer holiday period produces babies with less risk of disease than babies conceived during the Christmas holidays.

Press ReleaseColumbia University scientists have developed a computational method to investigate the relationship between birth month and disease risk. The researchers used this algorithm to examine New York City medical databases and found 55 diseases that correlated with the season of birth. Overall, the study indicated people born in May had the lowest disease risk, and those born in October the highest. The study was published this week in the Journal of American Medical Informatics Association. ……. 

Earlier research on individual diseases such as ADHD and asthma suggested a connection between birth season and incidence, but no large-scale studies had been undertaken. This motivated Columbia’s scientists to compare 1,688 diseases against the birth dates and medical histories of 1.7 million patients treated at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/CUMC between 1985 and 2013. …….. The study ruled out more than 1,600 associations and confirmed 39 links previously reported in the medical literature. The researchers also uncovered 16 new associations, including nine types of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. The researchers performed statistical tests to check that the 55 diseases for which they found associations did not arise by chance. ……

……….. The new data are consistent with previous research on individual diseases. For example, the study authors found that asthma risk is greatest for July and October babies. An earlier Danish study on the disease found that the peak risk was in the months (May and August) when Denmark’s sunlight levels are similar to New York’s in the July and October period.

For ADHD, the Columbia data suggest that around one in 675 occurrences could relate to being born in New York in November. This result matches a Swedish study showing peak rates of ADHD in November babies.

The researchers also found a relationship between birth month and nine types of heart disease, with people born in March facing the highest risk for atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, and mitral valve disorder. One in 40 atrial fibrillation cases may relate to seasonal effects for a March birth. A previous study using Austrian and Danish patient records found that those born in months with higher heart disease rates—March through June—had shorter life spans.

Tatonetti Lab disease and time of birth

Tatonetti Lab disease and time of birth

New moon gives higher blood pressure in children

April 24, 2015

Once upon a time, Astrology was the only science. It then became pseudo-science as the age of rational science took off. In the modern world it is considered a belief system and the stuff of charlatans. Tests of astrological predictions have shown that their forecasts are no better than would be expected by chance (here and here). It is generally considered absurd that distant celestial objects can have any impact on human life or behaviour.

But in recent times it has become clear that the near celestial objects (the Sun, the moon and even Jupiter) do interact with the earth sufficiently to give correlations between their relative motion and some aspects of human life and behaviour. Our internal body clocks not only reflect the 24 hour cycle of the earth’s rotation, but even have an “annual” component seemingly related to the earth’s period of rotation around the Sun and may even have a lunar monthly component. The season of birth has been linked to personality and that begins to sound like astrology. There are now also correlations showing other possible connections to the period of rotation of the moon around the earth:

That the moon may have effects on the results of cardiac surgery is apparently not just rubbish.

It seems that the lunar nodal cycle (18.6 years) is also reflected in happenings on earth:

The lunar nodal cycle does seem to correlate with happenings on Earth. The mechanisms leading to most lunar effects on tides and sedimentation and geologic accumulations and tidal flows and sea surface temperatures and climate can be put down to some interplay of gravitational forces.

It is not such a long stretch to think that the gravitational effects of the larger planets may have some quite unlooked for effects on life on Earth.

The Sun and the moon do affect us it seems  – even if not the stars. And now it is reported from Denmark that “the lunar cycle seems to have an effect on children’s health and activity levels, but scientists are at a loss when it comes to finding an explanation for this”. The effects are small but clearly significant.

Nordic Science reports:

Just a few decades ago, it was still widely believed that the full moon held special powers and could make people act strange or even go mad. This has long since been dismissed as unscientific superstition. However, it might be time to revise that notion.

A new study, published in the scientific journal Clinical Obesity, shows that the lunar cycle is associated with a negative effect on children’s levels of physical activity, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.

“It’s a very mysterious finding.  We actually have no idea what the reason could be for these changes in children’s behaviour during the course of the lunar cycle. It’s the first time anyone has studied children’s health in relation to the lunar cycle,” says Mads Fiil Hjorth, postdoc at the Department of Nutrition, Exercise, and Sports at the University of Copenhagen.

“Perhaps the explanation is hidden far back in evolutionary history, when moonlight could influence chances of survival and reproduction among animals and small organisms,” he says.

Hjorth is the main author of the new research article that has been written in collaboration with a team of scientists from the research centre OPUS at University of Copenhagen.

During the study, the scientists collected data from 795 children aged 8-11, taking blood samples and measuring blood pressure, sleep, and activity levels. The information was gathered over the course of nine lunar cycles – i.e. months – and then analysed.

The results revealed that on the days around a full moon the children were on average 3.2 minutes less moderately to very physically active than at new moon; equivalent to roughly 8 percent lower activity levels.

Moreover, the children’s blood pressure was 0.8 mmHg higher – equivalent to an increase of roughly 1 percent – and had an average of 0.12 mmol/L higher blood sugar levels – equivalent to an increase of just over 2 percent. Finally, the children slept 4.1 minutes more on average at full moon. ……

…….. Sleep scientist Birgitte Kornum, PhD and senior researcher at the Molecular Sleep Laboratory at Glostrup Hospital’s Research Institute, is optimistic about the results.

“This is very exciting. At this stage there is good evidence to suggest that we all have a monthly cycle inside that influences our sleep and perhaps other areas, too,” she says.

“The question is whether it’s a coincidence that the cycle follows the amount of moonlight that shines down on us, or whether the human cycle is an innate part of our biology, like the female menstrual cycle.” ….. 

Hardly any Indian Hindu wedding today takes place without first checking with astrologers that the couples’ horoscopes are not in conflict and that the day and time of the wedding is auspicious. The astrologers may well be charlatans and their various calculations are clearly just so much mumbo-jumbo, but I would not be so quick to dismiss the social and psychological importance of getting their “stamp of approval”. Astrology is still just a system of belief and astrological approval then has the importance of any religious rite.

Study shows that season of birth affects personality – sounds like astrology

October 20, 2014

A new study to be presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) suggests that there may be something in astrology after all. The study is being presented at the ECNP Congress in Berlin. The researchers from Hungary find statistically significant links between season of birth and mood disorders.


I have always thought of astrology being ridiculously fanciful and horoscopes just so much hokum. But a tiny little part of my brain is always a touch uncertain. Clearly the seasons are controlled by the Earth’s relative position and its motion around the Sun. If the season of birth can affect personality then the effects of the Sun and other celestial bodies become real. That the moon may have effects on the results of cardiac surgery is apparently not just rubbish. The lunar nodal cycle does seem to correlate with happenings on Earth. The mechanisms leading to most lunar effects on tides and sedimentation and geologic accumulations and tidal flows and sea surface temperatures and climate can be put down to some interplay of gravitational forces. It is not such a long stretch to think that the gravitational effects of the larger planets may have some quite unlooked for effects on life on Earth.

Back in the days of psychedelia and Hair, we used to think that strange things would take place as the age of Aquarius dawned,  “When the moon is in the seventh house, And Jupiter aligns with Mars”.

Neuropsychopharmacology however is something quite new for me and sounds almost as arcane as astrology.

 Neuropsychopharmacology, is an interdisciplinary science related to psychopharmacology (how drugs affect the mind) and fundamental neuroscience, and is the study of the neural mechanisms that drugs act upon to influence behavior.

Professor Xenia Gonda is a clinical psychologist and pharmacist currently working as assistant professor at the Department of Clinical and Theoretical Mental Health at Semmelweis University, Budapest.

AlphaGalileo: According to lead researcher, Assistant Professor Xenia Gonda 

“Biochemical studies have shown that the season in which you are born has an influence on certain monoamine neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, which is detectable even in adult life. This led us to believe that birth season may have a longer-lasting effect. Our work looked at over 400 subjects and matched their birth season to personality types in later life. Basically, it seems that when you are born may increase or decrease your chance of developing certain mood disorders”.

“We can’t yet say anything about the mechanisms involved. What we are now looking at is to see if there are genetic markers which are related to season of birth and mood disorder”.

The group found the following statistically significant trends:

  • cyclothymic temperament (characterized by rapid, frequent swings between sad and cheerful moods), is significantly higher in those born in the summer, in comparison with those born in the winter.
  • Hyperthymic temperament – a tendency to be excessively positive –  were significantly higher in those born in spring and summer
  • Those born in the winter were significantly less prone to irritable temperament than those born at other times of the year.
  • Those born in autumn show a significantly lower tendency to depressive temperament than those born in winter.

 Commenting for the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, Professor Eduard Vieta (Barcelona) XY said:

“Seasons affect our mood and behavior. Even the season at our birth may influence our subsequent risk for developing certain medical conditions, including some mental disorders. What’s new from this group of researchers is the influence of season at birth and temperament. Temperaments are not disorders but biologically-driven behavioral and emotional trends. Although both genetic and environmental factors are involved in one’s temperament, now we know that the season at birth plays a role too. And the finding of “high mood” tendency (hyperthymic temperament) for those born in summer is quite intriguing.”

Sea surface temperature and the 18.6 year lunar nodal cycle

October 15, 2014

There is a growing body of scientific papers (some reported in my post here) which show long period connections between the 18.6 year lunar nodal cycles and sea level, tidal sedimentation, tidal mixing, sea surface temperature, Arctic climate and even drought. The mechanisms by which these influences are transmitted are hypothesised but are not known.

Compared to solar cycles the lunar cycles are not well known:

The lunar nodal cycle is not something that is very well known but it is another celestial cycle which is clearly not to be ignored. Naturally the IPCC takes no notice of solar cycles, planetary cycles or lunar cycles and all these are lumped into what could be considered “natural variability”.

(Sourced from Wikipedia)

The lunar orbit is inclined by about 5 degrees on the ecliptic. The moon  therefore can lie up to about 5 degrees north or south of the ecliptic. The ecliptic is the plane of the apparent path of the Sun on the celestial sphere, and is coplanar with both the orbit of the Earth around the Sun and the apparent orbit of the Sun around the Earth.

File:Lunar eclipse diagram-en.svg

Lunar eclipse orbital diagram: wikipedia

The lunar nodes precess around the ecliptic, completing a revolution (called a draconitic or nodical period, the period of nutation) in 6793.5 days or 18.5996 years.

The effects of the 18.6 year lunar nodal cycle on climate on tides and geological sediments and on weather and climate have long been of interest (though not apparently for the IPCC).

The lunar nodes and the nodal cycles were known even to ancient astronomy (Greek, Hindu, Tibetan…) and has found a place in both Eastern and Western astrology. Since astrology is not considered “scientific”, suggestions that the lunar nodal cycle has any impact on the earth’s geology and climate are very often treated with ridicule. Yet the undoubted lunar effects on tides and tidal sedimentation and (therefore) geologic events are not disputed. The nodal period also controls when eclipses can occur.

Eclipses occur only near the lunar nodes: Solar eclipses occur when the passage of the Moon through a node coincides with the new moon; lunar eclipses occur when passage coincides with the full moon. A lunar eclipse may occur if there is a full moon within 11° 38′ (Celestial Longitude), of a node, and a solar eclipse may occur if there is a new moon within 17° 25′ of a node.

It is not surprising that the ancient astrologers/astronomers attributed many effects to the lunar nodes and the nodal cycles:

In Hindu astronomy, the ascending node is called Rahu and the descending node is called Ketu. Rahu and Ketu are thus the north and the south lunar nodes. Rahu represents the severed head of an asura, that swallows the sun causing eclipses. Times of day considered to be under the influence of Rahu are considered inauspicious even today in many parts of India (for weddings, starting journeys …..)

A new paper considers the effects of the 18.6 year lunar nodal cycle on Sea Surface Temperature (SST) and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO).

S. Osafune, S. Masuda and N. Sugiura, Role of the oceanic bridge in linking the 18.6-year modulation of tidal mixing and long-term SST change in the North Pacific, Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1002/2014GL061737

HockeyShtick reports:

A paper published today in Geophysical Research Letters finds a “significant contribution” of the 18.6 year lunar-tidal cycle to “wintertime sea surface temperatures near the center of action of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation [PDO] in the eastern Pacific,” and that

“This result supports the hypothesis that the 18.6-year tidal cycle influences long-term variability in climate; thus, knowledge of this cycle could contribute towards improving decadal predictions of climate.” [which IPCC climate models do not incorporate]

The approximately 60-year long Pacific Decadal Oscillation [PDO] in-turn profoundly affects global climate and interacts with other ocean and atmospheric oscillations. A very simple climate model based solely upon the sum of the sunspot integral, Pacific Decadal Oscillation [PDO], and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation [AMO] explains 96% of climate change over the 20th century: …..


Paper Abstract:The impact of the 18.6-year modulation of tidal mixing on sea surface temperature (SST) in the North Pacific is investigated in a comparative study using an ocean data synthesis system. We show that remote impact through a slow ocean response can make a significant contribution to the observed bidecadal variation in wintertime SST near the center of action of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation in the eastern Pacific. A comparative data synthesis experiment showed that the modified SST variation is amplified by bidecadal variation in the westerly wind. This relationship between SST and wind variations is consistent with an observed air–sea coupled mode in the extratropics, which suggests that a midlatitude air–sea interaction plays an important role in enhancing the climate signal of the 18.6-year modulation. This result supports the hypothesis that the 18.6-year tidal cycle influences long-term variability in climate; thus, knowledge of this cycle could contribute towards improving decadal predictions of climate.

I am of the opinion that climate is predominated by solar effects which are mediated primarily by the oceans over multidecadal periods and only over shorter periods by the atmosphere. And if lunar nodal cycles influence the tidal flows and tidal mixing then they will also influence the climate – also on the decadal scale.

We dance to a celestial music and the moon provides the variations on the climate themes set by the sun.


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