Sunday, November 13, 2011

American Council of Science and Health, 2011: Weeks 44 and 45


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.   Rich Kozlovich

THE UNENDING WAR AGAINST JUNK SCIENCE IN PUBLIC POLICY

A positive review of how to fight the assault on science in America
Perhaps the most important point of Shawn Lawrence Otto's Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America is that the voting public can, in fact, take up arms against politicians who would sway their constituents with sheerly rhetorical claims about public policy decisions that should be based instead on the relevant science.

How many experts does it take...?
Members of the American Public Health Association (APHA) convened this week in Washington, DC for their annual meeting and, while we're not entirely sure what went on there, more than a few questionable policy decisions seem to be the result.

ADHD

ADHD is enough to worry about without this — so don’t!
There have been concerns that medications used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children could increase their risk for serious cardiovascular events, such as stroke or sudden cardiac death. However, a large new study reports that there is no evidence that this is a valid concern.

BPA

Another anti-BPA “study”
Anti-bisphenol A (BPA) crusaders continue their march, charging that the plastic additive is responsible for a slew of adverse health effects.

CANCER

Fears over No More Tears
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC) has been decrying Johnson and Johnson's baby shampoo as potentially carcinogenic.

Study radiates good news for some prostate cancer patients
A new study suggests that, when treating locally invasive prostate cancer, patients' response to hormone therapy - which is the standard treatment - may be significantly improved by adding radiotherapy to the treatment regimen.

Cheers to preventing heart disease, not breast cancer
Consuming alcohol in moderate amounts, it seems, is something of a double-edged sword.

DIET

Fuzzy (and fizzy) thinking about soda
New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley took up his "Pouring on the Pounds" campaign once again yesterday to coincide with the nation's first Food Day, which its organizers purport promotes healthy food and eating habits.

Choose your weapon: Coke or Pepsi? A soda study with a lot of gas
We've previously read some claims that soda consumption is tied to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, but we've yet to hear one this ridiculous: Drinking lots of soda may increase the risk of violent behavior among teenagers.

Not so Good and Plenty
Most parents who are concerned about the contents of their child's trick-or-treat loot focus on insubstantial but highly publicized scares about things like artificial colorings and high fructose corn syrup...

Obesity can’t be blamed on just soda and food addictions
Reports on obesity and its purported link to sugar-sweetened beverages from the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity read like a broken record these days.

Ronald McDonald is not a bad neighbor
The ubiquity of fast food restaurants is often blamed for the high incidence of obesity in the U.S. However, a study from Harvard Medical School has found that living close to your local McDonald's or Burger King does not mean that you're more likely to be overweight.

Belly fat bad for the colon
It turns out that the extra pudge around your waistline may lead to more than just an increased risk of diabetes or heart disease - it may also increase your risk of colorectal cancer (CRC), according to a new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

School ban on sugary drinks amounts to just an empty can
Banning soda in schools is an increasingly common response to the high rate of obesity among kids. However, one of the first studies to specifically examine the impact of these bans on what students consume finds that they fall flat.

Take U.S. dietary sodium guidelines with a grain of salt
We've said it before, but now we'll say it again: Reducing your sodium intake may not only do you no good - in fact, it may actually cause harm.

Obesity taxes won’t work, and here’s why
In a recent op-ed for InvestorPlace, journalist Jonathan Berr outlines the various reasons why taxes on soda, high-fat foods, and candy - which have already been proposed by several states - won't solve the obesity epidemic.

Weight-loss therapy: A family affair
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a psychotherapeutic approach used to modify problematic behaviors, is recognized as a viable means of encouraging weight loss in obese and overweight patients. Now, a study by Italian researchers has found that the positive behavioral changes in these patients can even extend to their family members.

CANCER

Aspirin chemoprevention works for those with genetic colon cancer
People suffering from Lynch Syndrome, a genetic disease carried by about one in every 1000 people, have at least a 10-fold increased risk of developing colorectal cancer (CRC), compared to the general population.

A new approach to reducing breast cancer recurrence
In a long-running clinical trial, the drug letrozole (Femara) has proven significantly more effective than tamoxifen, the standard of care for post-operative treatment of women whose breast cancers were estrogen-receptor positive.

Confusing new cancer screening guidelines explained
In the past two years alone, experts have advised fewer screenings on the basis of the greater harm than benefits too often resulting from the false-positives and unnecessary treatments that frequent screenings can lead to.

A sobering surprise: Regular mammography saves few lives
Very few women whose breast cancer was detected by routine mammography have actually had their lives saved by the screening, conclude the authors of a study just published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

FERTILITY

One egg, now over easy
Good news for women considering in vitro fertilization (IVF): Improved technology has increased the likelihood that they'll give birth to a healthy singleton - from just one implanted embryo - instead of having to navigate the health risks associated with multiple births.

GMO’S

Saving potatoes, and starving people too — if permitted
Despite European consumers' longstanding aversion to genetically modified (GM) food products, BASF, the world's largest chemical company, is making headway toward European Union approval of a genetically modified potato.

HEART

New valve lets some patients take heart
Patients who are diagnosed with aortic stenosis, a narrowing and stiffening of the aortic valve in the heart, have for years faced a dire prognosis: either undergo risky open heart surgery, or face a two-year mortality rate of over 50 percent. But now a new artificial heart valve that can be inserted without any major surgery may allow old or frail patients to obtain the life-extending benefits of valve replacement without the risk of extensive surgery.

Airport security no threat to pacemakers
A new study from the German Heart Center in Munich should ease the minds of air travelers with pacemakers or implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs).

MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

Grounds for optimism in new MS drug trial
In the midst of the usual scientific lingo and jargon, scientists heard a "wow" following a report of a new treatment possibility for multiple sclerosis.

ORGANIC FOODS

Field testing the organic industry’s claims
Is there any substance to pro-organic activists who damn the conventional use of pesticides but condone the lax inspection standards for high priced organic crops? Mischa Popoff says he's observed this disconnect first-hand. Popoff, a former organic farm and processing inspector, left his position out of frustration with the absence of effective enforcement of field testing standards for the organic industry. In this opinion piece, he discusses what's wrong with the current methods and

PAIN MANAGEMENT

Namaste = less chronic back pain?
Yoga and stretching may provide an effective method of reducing the symptoms of lower back pain, suggest two recent studies.

PHARMACUETICALS

FDA antibiotic regulations under the microscope
The FDA has just rejected two petitions to ban a long list of antibiotics used in food animal production.

Tylenol and asthma? We await more data with bated breath
The use of the common pain reliever acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be linked to increases in asthma symptoms, according to a new review published in the journal Pediatrics.

Too many antibiotics spoil the child?
Parents are often reassured when a trip to the pediatrician results in an antibiotic prescription for their sick child. But doctors too often write such prescriptions when it's just not necessary, reports a large study just published in Pediatrics.

Newer pill may cause more clotting
Oral contraceptives are one of the most effective means of preventing an unwanted pregnancy, yet different versions of the Pill carry different risk-benefit profiles.

Another cessation aid goes up in smoke
Two drugs used to help people stop smoking - varenicline (Chantix) and bupropion (Zyban) - carry a significantly increased risk of depression and suicidal or self-injurious behavior, according to a new study published in the Public Library of Science.

Lack of common drugs continues: Three months and no progress
We previously reported on the ongoing critical drug shortage crisis, but now the problem has garnered the attention of President Obama, who issued an executive order Monday in hopes of resolving the issue - or at least improving it.

Rice-A-Protein: The new Chinese treat
Produced in the liver, human serum albumin (HSA) is a plasma protein used to help transport various hormones, steroids, and fatty acids in the bloodstream.

Too many unfilled prescriptions reveal a troubling trend
When it comes to filling prescriptions for new medications, a new study finds that about one in four of us never actually complete the task.

SCARES AND CONSEQUENCES

The wrong approach to looking for nuclear problems
Rewind to 1991, when a National Cancer Institute study concluded that there was no danger in living near nuclear power plants.

No bones about it: HRT prevents hip fractures
ACSH staffers have long known that the adverse health effects of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), according to the 2002 Women's Health Initiative study, were dramatically overstated.

STD’s

Gel is swell against both HIV and herpes
A vaginal gel designed to reduce HIV infection may provide a surprisingly effective protection from genital herpes infection as well, reports a recent study published in Cell Host & Microbe.

More women getting genital growths — but why?
Publication Date: October 24, 2011
In a disconcerting trend, there has been an increase in the number of women experiencing precancerous growths on the genitals.

STROKE

Unexpected finding: Carotid bypass surgery for stroke not effective
After a recent study looked at patients who had already suffered a "mini-stroke" due to a blocked neck artery, researchers found that drug treatment was as effective and less risky in the prevention of future stroke, compared to bypass surgery for the blocked artery.

TOBACCO

Why we can’t ignore tobacco harm reduction
"More than two-thirds of American smokers want to quit, but only a fraction actually do, underscoring a need for more services, messages, and access to medications to help them kick the habit," writes Betsy McKay of The Wall Street Journal.

Rare sanity in the world of tobacco harm reduction
ACSH applauds John Tierney's column in today's Science section of The New York Times, in which he argues for the promotion of electronic cigarettes as a harm reduction method to reduce the tremendous toll of smoking in the U.S.

Federal Judge says: No labels for you
The FDA's efforts to mandate the display of graphic images on cigarette packs have been blocked by a judge's ruling.

ACSH in the media: A double-header
In a letter published in Michigan's' Midland Daily News, ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross chastises Susan Dusseau, executive director of Cancer Services of Midland, for citing misleading information on the alleged adverse health effects of smokeless tobacco. In the current Spotlight feature of Medical Progress Today, ACSH's Dr. Josh Bloom examines the FDA's decision to add a warning label to the popular anti-nausea drug Zofran.

Common sense and evidence used against smoking. Spread the news!
ACSH applauds a new initiative in the city of Owensboro, Kentucky, that aims to save lives by promoting the use of smokeless tobacco as a less risky alternative to smoking.

The lowdown on ways around nicotine addiction — maybe
Two recent news stories take a look at innovative means of handling the serious nicotine addiction that haunts cigarette smokers.

TRANSPLANTS

Transplant patients have far more to worry about than this
The results of a study just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveal that receiving an organ transplant doubles a person's risk of developing cancer, compared to the general population.

VACCINCES

Proving Dr. Wakefield wrong, one more study at a time
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting about one in 110 U.S. children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Bloom’s funny side in Medical Progress Today
In a new blog post for Medical Progress Today, ACSH's Dr. Josh Bloom takes a humorous look at a serious subject.

Dumb and dumber — in disease prevention
In a bizarre turn of events, some American parents are not only refusing to vaccinate their children against dangerous diseases, but they're actually actively trying to get their kids sick.

Doctors should advise patients about vaccines — not vice-versa
As surprising as it is that many parents in the United States still have doubts about vaccines, despite the overwhelming evidence of their efficacy and safety, a recent survey of doctors has discovered a frightening trend: It's not only parents who hold mistaken beliefs about vaccines; it's their doctors, too - especially the younger ones.

HPV vaccine: Not just for girls
We were pleased to hear that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended routine vaccination for pre-teen boys against the human papillomavirus (HPV).

VIRUS IMPACT

New findings in HPV research
While there's a well established link between HPV and cervical, genital, anal, and pharyngeal cancer, Dr. Kenichi Fujise, a cardiologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, has found that women infected with the virus also have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

The reality of rotavirus
A CDC report just published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases has updated the estimated number of deaths worldwide that are attributable to rotavirus-related diarrhea in children younger than five years.

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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