Thursday, 27 September 2018

A letter to my Friend Thanasis Pantelglou (co. Heaven)

Dear Watson (aka Thanasis Panteloglou),
since you left us in November 2014 (almost 4 years ago),
Sotiris Stasinos, papaYannis Economides and myself, we came through sadness, disbelief and sorrow.
Your unexpected loss still hurts...

In 2015, I didn't hear your advice to stay in Greece and I moved to UL, since 1st Sept 2018 I am the new Head at the Dept of Biological Sciences and since yesterday I have the duty and the honour to chair the Environmental Committee in the University of Limerick (UL).

UL is a special place, my Dear Watson!

The University of Limerick is ranked as among the world’s top 30 green universities. The results are part of the GreenMetric ranking of world universities which ranked UL as number 29 among the world’s top 300 universities. The ranking is open to global participation and it is intended to contribute to academic discourse on sustainability in education and encourage university-led social change with regard to sustainability goals. 

So, you can smile...a little.

I am sure that you can see me from up there...

You can see the river Shannon (that brings to mind Asopos, your river), the Shannon estuary, the Atlantic ocean...

My Dear Watson - Thanasi, in this life, we need to have courage, vision and luck.
You taught me that...Courage and Vision...
You were a great Teacher! And thank you for sharing your vision with me!

an image that Thanasis inspired...water bed...pollution has no simple...

Next time I'll go to my local church in Co Clare, I am going to light a little candle for you remind us that I still remember your words, when you were telling me in the University of Athens (when I was inviting you every year to talk to my students about chemicals, mines, water and ...cancer).

Sherlock, this little flame...we need to keep it alive! In order to make our lives...worthliving!

[Σέρλοκ, αυτή την φλογίτσα να την κρατήσουμε ζωντανή! Για να κάνουμε το βιος μας ...αξιοβίωτο!]

My Dear Watson,
I am going to invite your family, Sotiris and papaYannis and Maria (#Skouries) here to visit UL and set up an international agenda for Asopos, your river but also for #Skouries ! And I am sure that you would love this!

I miss you...

Yours (now and ever...)


p.s. further reading

water management in Ireland? a Greek tradegy...

Since 2008, I have been actively involved into studying the water pollution in Asopos river in Greece.
Then, I decided to take it a step further and I even stood for an MP in Evia, Greece in the elections of 2009 with the Green Party. By 2010, I had realized that the DNA of the politicians and mine are simply not compatible...
But I continued my research on Asopos and writing articles about the water pollution and the food chain, like this and that one.
All that till 2014, when my close friend and mentor, Thanasis Panteloglou,
died of cancer in November 2014...I used to call him, my Dear Watson, and he used to call me Sherlock in our quests to find out who and how was and still is polluting Asopos river.

Thanasis Panteloglou

Since then, quite few things have changed. I have moved to UL and Ireland but the water is always around calm me down and to haunt me...


River runs purple and contaminates Greek town


The Greek Hinkleys: Pollution has no borders


Μetal Uptake by Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) Irrigated with Water Polluted with Chromium and Nickel


Ο Ασωπός και ο πραγματικός εχθρός του Λαού


και για να γελάσουμε...

ο Ζαμπετάκης και τα καλαμάκια του

Ο γνωστός υποψήφιος βουλευτής των Οικολόγων Πράσινων Γιάννης Ζαμπετάκης, καθηγητής Χημείας Τροφίμων, εκτός από την πολιτική αποφάσισε να ασχοληθεί και
με την γεωλογία… Πήρε λοιπόν τα καλαμάκια από τον φραπέ του και μας έκανε επίδειξη των συγκοινωνούντων δοχείων, λέγοντας ότι αν ο υδροφόρος ορίζοντας είναι μολυσμένος με αρσενικό, όπου και να κάνεις γεώτρηση θα πάρεις μολυσμένο νερό. Θα πρότεινα στον κο Ζαμπετάκη να παραμείνει στην Χημεία τροφίμων και να χρησιμοποιεί τα καλαμάκια για τη χρήση που προορίζονται.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Soccer break

Luka Modric and Marta pose with their awards at the Royal Festival Hall in London. Photograph: Tim Goode/PA

Some of my all time favorite soccer players:
1. Antonis Nikopolodis (greek portiero at Euro 2004)
2. Kenny Dalglish (the Best No 7 in the world)
3. Ian Rush (the best No 9 in the world)
4. Andres Iniesta (the best 6/8/10 in the world) and

Luka Modric!

I am so pleased with the news on Luka :

Luka Modric and Marta win Fifa player of the year awards in London

Please pay some attention to the modest words that Luka said after winning this award.
The complete opposite of arrogance and big egos...

Well Done Luka!
we love you!


Tuesday, 25 September 2018

an open letter to a student of mine

Dear Kay-Constantina,

since the years in the University of Athens, where you studied (under my supervision) for your final year project (FYP) in BSc Chemistry and then for your MSc in Food Chemistry, I am truly proud of you, of your stamina and your willingness to win and to succeed in Life!
I still remember vividly your FYP and MSc data and the beautiful conversations we had in the Food Chemistry lab in Athens.

And how all these data and discussions transformed to some insightful publications :)

Life is a Journey, as my favorite Cavafy says

As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.

= = =

When you land in Dublin airport, have a look at the flags at the airport,
the 1st one is the Irish flag, then it's the EU flag and's the Greek one!
Ireland is ...Greece! Remember this at the stormy moments of your journey!

and also keep listening to these two songs

To Taxidi


H dikia mou

(to taxidi starts with some cicada sounds in Greece and H dikia mou ends with the cicadas)

Enjoy the Journey upwards and onwards to your own special Ithaka!

Your proud Teacher

Ioannis Zabetakis

Υ.Γ. καλή μας Αντάμωση στην Ιρλανδία αλλά και στο Ρεούζι 😉

Δεν είναι το σχολείο
και το Πολυτεχνείο
δεν είναι το Εθνικό Ωδείο.

Δεν είναι το Μουσείο
ιστορικό μνημείο
δεν είναι γραφικό τοπίο.

Δεν είναι τα αρχαία
θρησκευτικά και νέα
δεν είναι η ένδοξη σημαία.

Δεν είναι εκείνη η όψη
και του σπαθιού η κόψη
εγώ αλλιώς την έχω νιώσει.

Το μέτρο και το πάθος
είναι η δικιά μου Ελλάδα.
Ούτε σωστό ούτε λάθος
μια δροσερή λιακάδα
είναι η δικιά μου Ελλάδα.

Αθήνα κι επαρχία
τυφλή εργολαβία
η εθνική ενδυμασία.

Χαμένες παραδόσεις
κι ατέλειωτες πιστώσεις
τον νεκρό πώς να τον σώσεις.

Το μέτρο και το πάθος
είναι η δικιά μου Ελλάδα.
Ούτε σωστό ούτε λάθος
μια δροσερή λιακάδα
είναι η δικιά μου Ελλάδα.

Ηλεκτρικά κλαρίνα
ουίσκι και ρετσίνα
απ’ όλα έχει η βιτρίνα.

Γιατί να με πειράζει
που ρούχα όλο αλλάζει
η ψυχούλα της με νοιάζει...

Το μέτρο και το πάθος
είναι η δικιά μου Ελλάδα.
Ούτε σωστό ούτε λάθος
μια δροσερή λιακάδα
είναι η δικιά μου Ελλάδα!


Monday, 24 September 2018

the (not) definitive Schools Guide in Ireland and the Animal School

the book of Leo Buscaglia where the story of The Animal School was published.

 The news

"Laurel Hill Coláiste FCJ, Limerick is the top secondary school in Ireland for a record fifth successive year, the Sunday Times Best Schools Guide 2018 has revealed. 96.4% of the girls progress to university from the Gaelcholáiste, the Sunday Times reports. The annual Sunday Times survey is the definitive guide to the country’s top 400 secondary schools. It measures the progression of all second-level students over a three-year period – from 2015 to 2017 – to universities and institutes of technology".

How the guide was compiled
The progression of students to third-level study from all 714 state-funded secondary schools in the Republic of Ireland was examined. Data were collected from 27 3rd level Institutions in the Republic and two in NI.

The only criterion used for this guide is the "average proportion of pupils gaining places in autumn 2015, 2016 and 2017 at one of the nine universities on the island if Ireland, main teacher training colleges, Royal College of Surgeons or National College of Art and Design" (according to the Sunday Times, Ireland, 23/9/2018).

Parameters like the variety of extra-curriculum activities, the number of foreign languages, sport and civic achievements have not been used as ranking criteria.

The monolithic approach in constructing this (not) definitive schools guide brings to mind the case of  The Animal School — a story of Leo Buscaglia, as published in his book "Living, Loving and Learning".

In Leo's school, the animals got together in the forest one day and decided to start a school. 

(exact extract from the book)

"There was a rabbit, a bird, a squirrel, a fish and an eel, and they formed a Board of Education.

The rabbit insisted that running be in the curriculum.

The bird insisted that flying be in the curriculum.

The fish insisted that swimming be in the curriculum, and the squirrel insisted that perpendicular tree climbing be in the curriculum.

They put all of these things together and wrote a Curriculum Guide.

Then they insisted that all of the animals take all of the subjects.

Although the rabbit was getting an A in running perpendicular tree climbing was a real problem for him; he kept falling over backwards.

Pretty soon he got to be sort of brain damaged, and he couldn’t run any more. He found that instead of making an A in running, he was making a C and, of course, he always made an F in perpendicular tree climbing.

The bird was really beautiful at flying, but when it came to burrowing in the ground, he couldn’t do so well.

He kept breaking his beak and wings.

Pretty soon he was making a C in flying as well as an F in burrowing, and he had a hell of a time with perpendicular tree climbing.

The moral of the story is that the animal who was valedictorian of the class was a mentally retarded eel who did everything in a halfway fashion.

But the educators were all happy because everybody was taking all of the subjects, and it was called a broad-based education".

Dr Ioannis Zabetakis (MRSC, MEd)

Thursday, 20 September 2018

an amazing book

Grit: Why passion and resilience are the secrets to success 

by Angela Duckworth

UNLOCK THE KEY TO SUCCESSIn this must-read for anyone seeking to succeed, pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth takes us on an eye-opening journey to discover the true qualities that lead to outstanding achievement.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

LDL ‘cholesterol’ Does Not Cause Cardiovascular Disease - Another New Study.

Two new published studies from Statin Nation interviewees this week should push the cholesterol hypothesis a step back into the history books. Seventeen authors including: Uffe Ravnskov, Paul J Rosch, Sherif Sultan, Tomohito Hamazaki, Peter H Langsjoen, Kilmer S McCully, and Harumi Okuyama, published an article summarising the research showing that LDLs (so called ‘bad cholesterol’) do not cause heart disease. The paper highlights the following points:
  • The cholesterol hypothesis is based on misleading statistics and ignoring contradictory observations.
  • Only around 15% of clinical trials that found a negative result for cholesterol-lowering are cited in other reports.
  • There is no association between total cholesterol levels and the degree of arterial damage - in general, and also with regard to statin clinical trials.
  • In the Framingham Heart Study. “For each 1 mg/dl drop in TC [total cholesterol] per year, there was an eleven percent increase in coronary and total mortality”.
  • The LDL level of patients who have had a heart attack is lower than normal.
  • Elderly people with higher LDL live the longest.
  • Cardiovascular mortality has not decreased as a result of widespread statin treatment. Here is a quote from the paper that refers to this point:
“In a Swedish study including 289 of the 290 municipalities, no association was found between statin use and the change in mortality from acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Also, the American National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that during the period 1999-2006 the number of AMI and strokes increased from 3.4 to 3.7%, and from 2.0 to 2.9%, respectively. During the same period mean LDL-C level decreased from 126.1 to 114.8 mg/dL, and the self-reported use of lipid-lowering drugs increased from 8 to 13.4%. Furthermore, statin utilisation in 12 European countries between 2000 and 2012 was not associated with reduced CHD mortality or its rate of change over the years.”
In the second paper, Uffe Ravnskov writes about familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) - a genetic condition that prevents the body from removing cholesterol. People with FH have very high cholesterol levels. FH has often been used as a part of the explanation for the use of statins. However, there is not sufficient data to say that statins benefit people with FH. This is still unknown. However, for some time Uffe Ravnskov has argued that coagulation factors should be considered as a priority - which is the subject of the paper.
One of the videos from the Statin Nation Extras Package discusses this also:
Unfortunately, just this website and the Irish Times seem to have reported on the first study and only this website has reported on the second study. Therefore please share this post with everyone and anyone you can get to listen!
Update (18/09/18): The Sun, Express, and Metro newspapers have now reported on the first study, albeit with various factual errors.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Monday, 17 September 2018

day 2 : 16th Eurofed Belfast 2018

3 photos, 3000 words

morning by the waterfront,
Profs Calder and Ramji  on EPA/DHA etc...

06.50 @ Waterfront
Prof Ramji

Prof Calder

Belfast 2018: 16th Eurofed Lipid

on our way to Belfast: co-driver: Alexandros, photographer: Ronan, driver Yannis

The 16th Eurofed Lipid Conference started yesterday; tomorrow and Wednesday morning, all our team will present our work,

Ioannis (Yannis) Zabetakis:
Lipid Polarity and Cardiovascular Diseases

Ronan Lordan:
Dairy Polar Lipids and Cardiovascular Diseases

Alexandros Tsoupras:
Structural Elucidation of Irish Organic Farmed Salmon (Salmo salar) Polar Lipids with Antithrombotic Activities

see you at the Waterfront, Belfast

Friday, 14 September 2018

a strong paper against LDL cholesterol


LDL-C Does Not Cause Cardiovascular Disease: a comprehensive review of current literature


For half a century, a high level of total cholesterol (TC) or low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) has been considered to be the major cause of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease (CVD), and statin treatment has been widely promoted for cardiovascular prevention. However, there is an increasing understanding that the mechanisms are more complicated, and that statin treatment, in particular when used as primary prevention, is of doubtful benefit.
Areas covered
The authors of three large reviews recently published by statin advocates have attempted to validate the current dogma. This paper delineates the serious errors in these three reviews as well as other obvious falsifications of the cholesterol hypothesis.
Expert commentary
Our search for falsifications of the cholesterol hypothesis confirms that it is unable to satisfy any of the Bradford Hill criteria for causality, and that the conclusions of the authors of the three reviews are based on misleading statistics, exclusion of unsuccessful trials and by ignoring numerous contradictory observations.
Key words: Atherosclerosiscardiovascularcholesterol-loweringcoronary heart diseaseexposure-responsemortalitystatin

= = =

our views

1. Inflammation, not Cholesterol, Is a Cause of Chronic Disease

2. Unhealthy obsession with total cholesterol reduction is thwarting CVD prevention


Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Novel rashers : Nitrite Free and with a Med-flavour

Naked Bacon, made without cancer-causing nitrites, has been developed by Finnebrogue Artisan in Northern Ireland.

the news: Nitrite-free rasher predicted to ‘revolutionise full Irish breakfast’

the implications: a truly innovative product, that will help us all to minimise our intake of toxic chemicals (i.e. nitrites in this case); I am going to try to buy and taste it next week in Belfast!

Cholesterol, fat, and human metabolism: a microbiome-based paradigm shift

In 2014 Time Magazine reversed its position on dietary fat and CAD

At the age of 64, after a morning playing golf, president Dwight D Eisenhower had his first heart attack. As Pulitzer Prize winning author Gary Taubes describes in his book “Good Calories, Bad Calories” Eisenhower’s heart attack “constituted a learning experience on coronary artery disease (CAD).” After the event, his doctors, considered the top experts in the field, gave the public a “lucid and authoritative description of the disease itself”, followed by twice-daily press conferences held on the president’s condition. Soon, most of America, particularly middle-aged men, became intently aware of dogma promoted by these “experts”: the notion that CAD is caused by eating foods high in fat and cholesterol.

Like much of the rest of the nation, Eisenhower began to avidly lower his fat and cholesterol intake. Yet this plan of attack was counterintuitive for Eisenhower who, before his heart attack, had none of these supposed risk factors connected with CAD. His blood pressure was only seldom elevated, his weight throughout his life remained around 172 pounds (considered optimal for his height). His total cholesterol was below normal – his last measurement before the attack was 165 mg/dl, a level that heart disease specialists today consider safe. He had even quit smoking six years earlier in 1949.

[you can read the rest of this fascinating paper here: Cholesterol, fat, and human metabolism: a microbiome-based paradigm shift ]

We don't need no education!

Tuesday nine eleven 2018.

My first lecture to our year 1 Food Science and Health (LM068) students had some music...

Can we all together break the wall?

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Carpe Diem : Learn and Have Fun

time for tea...

nine eleven

17 years ago, I was leaving UK and Univ. of Leeds, after having spent 8 years in the Big Island (PhD, post-doc, 3 y lectureship in Leeds) a Renault Clio, with my Dad as co-pilot, we were going Leeds-Hull (stop at Helias and Elpina) and then ferry to Rotterdam and then drive all the way to Greece.

17 years full of adventures, full of knowledge!

Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans, John Lennon is quoted...
So here we are now, nine eleven UL, starting the most challenging Academic Year in my life (so far...:)

Monday, 10 September 2018

is there an obsession with anti-drinking?

wine in moderation :)

Over the last few months I have come across of reports and "guidelines" suggesting that alcohol is not good and we need to keep dry.

As a middle aged person (48), I do not buy these "advices" at all.

I prefer to follow the guidelines of the Med diet (that suggests moderate alcohol consumption daily!)
and I do enjoy a glass of Syrah, Merlor or my Greek favourite Agiorgitiko every evening.

The scientific advice we need to advocate is this: fermented alcoholic drinks are healthy (e.g. beer, wine) but distillates (e.g. gin, vodka, whiskey) are not.
Simple and clear!

Why can't relevant authorities issue clear guidelines?

Further read:
Believe grape expectations

Ioannis Zabetakis


Saturday, 8 September 2018

People can round up corporations!

the news: Monsanto Can't Round Up Chemical Docs From Advocacy Org

our views: I am trying to compute how many man/woman hours have been devoted by Monsanto to conceptualize and implement all these legal actions...wouldn't it wiser use of their time to develop novel chemicals that are more friendly to Earth and the food chain?
Well done Avaaz!

more on this story: Should we be concerned about glyphosate and GM foods?

Ioannis Zabetakis

Thursday, 6 September 2018

two important papers on statins as published in BMJ

1. Statins for primary prevention of cardiovascular events and mortality in old and very old adults with and without type 2 diabetes: retrospective cohort study



Objective To assess whether statin treatment is associated with a reduction in atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (CVD) and mortality in old and very old adults with and without diabetes.
Design Retrospective cohort study.
Setting Database of the Catalan primary care system (SIDIAP), Spain, 2006-15.
Participants 46 864 people aged 75 years or more without clinically recognised atherosclerotic CVD. Participants were stratified by presence of type 2 diabetes mellitus and as statin non-users or new users.
Main outcome measures Incidences of atherosclerotic CVD and all cause mortality compared using Cox proportional hazards modelling, adjusted by the propensity score of statin treatment. The relation of age with the effect of statins was assessed using both a categorical approach, stratifying the analysis by old (75-84 years) and very old (≥85 years) age groups, and a continuous analysis, using an additive Cox proportional hazard model.
Results The cohort included 46 864 participants (mean age 77 years; 63% women; median follow-up 5.6 years). In participants without diabetes, the hazard ratios for statin use in 75-84 year olds were 0.94 (95% confidence interval 0.86 to 1.04) for atherosclerotic CVD and 0.98 (0.91 to 1.05) for all cause mortality, and in those aged 85 and older were 0.93 (0.82 to 1.06) and 0.97 (0.90 to 1.05), respectively. In participants with diabetes, the hazard ratio of statin use in 75-84 year olds was 0.76 (0.65 to 0.89) for atherosclerotic CVD and 0.84 (0.75 to 0.94) for all cause mortality, and in those aged 85 and older were 0.82 (0.53 to 1.26) and 1.05 (0.86 to 1.28), respectively. Similarly, effect analysis of age in a continuous scale, using splines, corroborated the lack of beneficial statins effect for atherosclerotic CVD and all cause mortality in participants without diabetes older than 74 years. In participants with diabetes, statins showed a protective effect against atherosclerotic CVD and all cause mortality; this effect was substantially reduced beyond the age of 85 years and disappeared in nonagenarians.
Conclusions In participants older than 74 years without type 2 diabetes, statin treatment was not associated with a reduction in atherosclerotic CVD or in all cause mortality, even when the incidence of atherosclerotic CVD was statistically significantly higher than the risk thresholds proposed for statin use. In the presence of diabetes, statin use was statistically significantly associated with reductions in the incidence of atherosclerotic CVD and in all cause mortality. This effect decreased after age 85 years and disappeared in nonagenarians.



2. Primary prevention with statins for older adults


Decision time

Observational data have shown that researchers and patients having differing views on the relative importance of morbidity and mortality.15 Patients aged 65 or older prioritised reductions in myocardial infarction and stroke over avoiding death, in contrast with researchers and those younger than 65. Therefore, if in the process of shared decision making, older patients express a preference for extending longevity, then current evidence supporting statins for primary prevention remains limited. A patient preference for reduction in myocardial infarction or stroke, however, might help to tilt the balance in favour of statin prescription, but the absolute risk reduction and number needed to treat to prevent a CVD event in older patients remains uncertain.9


Soccer break: Yaya Toure

one of the books of the summer 2018 on my reading list was this one:
Pep Guardiola : Another Way of Winning: The Biography

It is an extremely interesting insight to the mentality of Pep.
In his 1st year at Barca, he wanted to get rid of Yaya and Samuel (Eto) he did.

There was always friction between Yaya and Pep...but Yaya, for me, is one the BESTEST players that I have seen playing live in Greece (at Georgios Karaiskakis) and also last May in Etihad (at his farewell match for the Cityzens).

Georgios Karaiskakis : where our soccer hearts beat a bit...faster

When Yaya was playing more than 10 years ago with Olympiakos, I was a season ticket was the era when Ernesto Valverde, Yaya, Rivaldo et al had created a team of high quality...
Yaya was so intrumental playing at positions 6 and 8 or 8 and 10, or even 6+8+10...and the whole stadium was singing back then...
oe oe oe oeeee
Yaya Toureee

And here is a clip for Yaya, somewhere at the background while Yaya greets the fans, you may be able to hear me and the boys :)

Welcome Back Home, Yaya!
Back to Olympiakos!

As a Greek God :)

new study in BMJ : statins do not provide any benefit for elderly people, unless they have type 2 diabetes

A new study published today in the British Medical Journal has found statins do not provide any benefit for elderly people, unless they have type 2 diabetes. In order to understand the significance of this study it is useful to first discuss some background and some key important concepts.

[The full story and paper are here]

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Food Security: a clear need for a round approach

my latest op-ed article at International Aquafeed.

Enjoy :)


Should we be concerned about glyphosate and GM foods?

my latest article on RTE Brainstorm on GMOs, Monsanto and glyphosate... But also cancer, politics and our gardens...

Should we be concerned about glyphosate and GM foods?

You can read more on Roundup at this fascinating book

Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science 1st Edition

Next week in UL, it is week 1 and I am going to have with my Food Science and Health students  an extended literature search and debate over the next 12 weeks on the politics and the science behind Roundup. Their essays and presentations are going to be posted here.

Stay tuned :)

Ioannis Zabetakis