Sunday, May 29, 2011

American Council on Science and Health, 2011: Week 20

The presence of linked articles here are merely a way of showing what is going on, whether I agree or disagree with the positions presented. I have highlighted what I think are "must read" articles with asterisks. Rich Kozlovich

Another HDL-raiser bites the dust
In a large, federally-funded trial investigating niacin (vitamin B-3), researchers hoping to harness its known ability to raise HDL, or "good cholesterol," levels to prevent heart disease were once again disappointed.

****Some European officials still bitter over aspartame’s sweet results 
Even though its been decades since numerous international governmental health authorities approved the use of aspartame as a food additive, the European Commission is not satisfied with the abundance of studies on the matter and is asking the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to conduct and expedite yet another re-evaluation of the artificial sweetener by July 2012.

My Take - No matter what these people say about their desire to follow the science the result is always (and I mean always)the same when the science proves their unwarranted claims to be junk science...."We need more studies". The reality is that they could care less about honest science. They have conclusions and the only data they will accept are data that support their conclusions; all else must be ignored. What we need to do is stop listening to these whack jobs and start seeing them for the costs they incur.  Where are the ambulance chasers when you need them?

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend Memorial Day is fast upon us, and we'd like to wish everyone a very safe and enjoyable long weekend. The holiday is often acknowledged as the official start of summer, which means kids will be swimming in pools and on beaches, while families everywhere will be firing up the grill for those long-awaited burgers and franks.

Youth no guarantee against high blood pressure The number of young adults with high blood pressure appears to be on the rise.

When female patients miss a beat, doctors shouldn’t  Physicians should more closely follow those female patients in whom they detect an irregular heart rhythm, findings from the 15-year Women's Health Study suggest.

****Vintage virus: Why are we still dealing with measles in 2011? Measles cases in the U.S. this year are at their highest since 1996, the CDC reports.

****A non-mercurial discussion about mercury  Concern about mercury levels in everything from fish to drinking water is enduring fodder for health scares. The truth, though, is that our environmental exposure to mercury is not a real cause for concern.

****Calling Jack Bauer! The CDC and its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) have a number of upcoming meetings scheduled to discuss whether to endorse a new meningitis vaccine for infants. Though nothing on the CDC website mentions the cost of the vaccine as part of the agency's deliberations, one of the groups invited to the meetings, The Keystone Center, received a letter which effectively says just that.

****Can autism risk be reduced with prenatal vitamins? Sounds too simple. A new study on the potential causes and prevention of autism has been released, and this one may result in a rush to the vitamin store.

My Take - What should this study really highlight for society?  They don't have clue what causes autism!  They do know there is a genetic link, but this is it.  So no matter what unfounded claims the media propounds.....no one really knows, so for activists to make unfounded (and it turned out ot be fraudulent) claims about vaccinations is not only outrageous, it is criminal in my opinon.   

****Should Lap-Band be approved to tighten the belt of teenage obesity? Allergan Inc., maker of the weight loss device Lap-Band, is seeking FDA approval to extend the use of the device to obese teenagers.

My Take - I find this whole thing to be disturbing! I hate it when claims are made about those opposing this as being “based mainly on a moralistic ‘blame the victim’ philosophy”. That is a red herring fallacy.

Normally I am in total harmony with Gil Ross, who I have tremendous respect for, but the reality is this. The baseball diamonds are empty almost every day! Why? For whatever cultural reason the kids aren’t exercising as they used to; therefore, the kids do have to watch their consumption. They won’t of course! Under normal conditions what kids eat is largely immaterial in my opinion as kids have always consumed junk food, and stayed trim for the most part because they were running, playing ball, doing things constantly that required physical activity.

There have always been kids with real weight problem. Do we remember the old Our Gang” movies? One of their fellows was named “Chubby”…because he was fat. And that was during the Great Depression.

So where does that leave us?

This is a modern cultural problem, and it is a serious one. However, I don’t like this whole thing about surgery to cure obesity for three reasons. One; once this is done they will then have a nutritional needs issue requiring supplementation for the rest of their lives; remember this procedure changes the plumbing and how people digest their food.   Two;  I  know people who have had this procedure, and I absolutely know that bariatric surgery isn’t anywhere near one hundred percent effective, and personally, I think the success rate isn’t all that great.  Three;  many people with the surgery end up being as fat as they were at the beginning because they continue to eat badly. That is a fact! And I wonder if this isn’t so for the Lap- Band surgery. So, if and when these things fail, then what? Another surgery?

I am, for the most part, very tolerant of people’s rights to live their lives anyway they choose, including being fat if they wish, or having surgery if they wish, but to start "fixing" this problem in children with this kind of surgery is in my opinion wrongheaded.  But there is one thing we should get clear. Not in all cases of course, but for the most part it really is their fault, and this isn't any form of moralizing, it is merely a statement of fact.   

I have gained a lot of weight over the years for two reasons. One, I eat too much…and love it! Secondly, I have arthritis very badly and it is difficult for me to do the physical things I used to do easily just a few years ago, including exercise. Do I eat anywhere a much as I did then? Not at all; and yet in spite of my reduced intake I still have a problem with weight gain. Why? Because I didn’t’ adapt to my changing circumstances. I needed to reduce my intake of calories even further and exercise more; and it all really is “MY FAULT”. Get over it!

Pulling the shades over your eyes about sunscreens  As spring turns to summer, ACSH anticipates better beach weather, plenty of summer movie sequels, and a new seasonal scare from the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Well, the EWG has yet to disappoint us, and this time, they're warning us about sunscreens that may contain phototoxic and "dangerous endocrine disrupting" chemicals such as retinyl palmitate and oxybenzone, respectively.

_______Smoking Section________

There was so much said about smoking this week I decided to organize the articles into one section. RK

 

What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander, as far as cigarette claims are concerned  On his tobacco blog, Tobaccoanalysis.com, ACSH scientific advisor Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, addresses the misleading claims of a recent article published in Tobacco Control, in which the authors reprimand the tobacco industry for not doing enough to lower the levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) in cigarettes over the years.
State funding of smoking cessation in Tenn?  Tennessee Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey released a statement last week proposing that his state approve funding smoking cessation drugs and counseling under their Medicaid program, TennCare.

Setting the facts straight about smokeless tobacco An editorial warning about the alleged dangers of smokeless tobacco - posted on a local South Dakota news website, TheDailyRepublic.com - had ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross riled up this morning since it "contained more falsehoods and misleading statements in the fewest words that I've had the displeasure to read recently."

Welcome news on snus Can smokeless tobacco products satiate a smoker's nicotine craving while simultaneously serving as a smoking cessation aid? And if so, is it conceivable that such a transition might result in net harm, paradoxical as that seems?

Swedes support snus, and the E.U. should too Speaking of snus, three members of the Swedish Parliament recently wrote a letter to the editor of the Swedish newspaperG√∂teborgs-Posten, requesting that the E.U. lift the ban against Swedish snus.

Smokeless in the City: Camel Snus ad campaign launched as NYC smoking ban is extended Today readers of a number of newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, U.S.A. Today and The New York Daily News, will encounter a full-page advertisement for Camel Snus.

New York City kicks more butts today New York City anti-smoking laws are today extended to include city parks, public beaches and pedestrian malls.
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****Environmental org chips in to chemophobia with acrylamide litigation
According to an organization called the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF), Dr Soda Co., a refreshment services provider in California, is in violation of the California Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, otherwise known as Proposition 65.

Don’t lay it on too (Simply) Thick, warns FDA SimplyThick, a product used to thicken breast milk and formula, should not be used to feed premature babies, the FDAwarned yesterday.

Tripping on a “legal” online high Just as it's not advisable to purchase your prescription medications online, it's probably not a good idea to find your drug highs there either.

****Great strides for public health Last week, the CDC released the results of a study that enumerates "Ten Great Public Health Achievements" in the U.S. from 2001 to 2010.

You can prevent swimmer’s ear, and more As the swimming season approaches, it's worth taking a look at these simple steps for avoiding the unpleasant experience of swimmer's ear, a common malady that accounted for 2.4 million health care visits in 2007, according to the CDC.

If there is a health scare today, the American Council on Science and Health will most likely have the answer by tomorrow; and for members it will appear in your e-mail. No effort on your part, except to read the answer. All that the ACSH is interested in are the facts and they are prepared to follow them wherever they lead. Who can ask for more?  Please Donate Now!

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