Saturday, July 18, 2015

American Council on Science and Health

No, your ED med is not giving you melanoma - You may remember a large study from last year that seemed to find a link between Viagra use and melanoma. New research suggests that yes -- erectile dysfunction (ED) drug users are still at higher risk for serious skin cancer. But other lifestyle factors are probably the culprit, not the medication. Read more.

New study not too high on medical marijuana utility - Excitement over the legalization of medical marijuana has swept across the nation as almost half the states plus the district have legalized medical marijuana. However, the medical and science communities response has been tepid at best thus far. Read more.

Chocolate is delicious! But it won’t cure (or prevent) heart disease - It seems like every week, there’s another study on the apparent health miracle of chocolate: it improves your memory, it prevents cancer, it’s good for your heart, etc. However, media coverage of these studies is often overhyped, and frankly, sometimes just wrong. Read more.

High blood pressure: How low is low enough? Lowering high blood pressure is a proven way to lower the risk of heart attack, stroke and death. But there’s a medical quandary involved: How low should you go? Inquiring minds (and doctors) want to know. Read more.

Cancer vaccine: safe, effective – and under-utilized. Yet another study shows that vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV) is safe and effective — this time via a new 9-valent vaccine with extended viral protection. Since it’s protective against a variety of cancers, why isn’t it being used more? Read more.

Genetic engineering to create healthier pigs - Pigs aren’t flying — yet — but they could become healthier, thanks to genetic engineering. Without using any “foreign” genes, scientists have found a way to make domestic pigs resistant to the scourge of African swine fever. Pig farmers should rejoice, and anti-GMOers have not a leg to stand on. Read more.

Swimming Pools: Where P-Chem becomes Pee-Chem - Summer time means swimming in the pool. Most people think the chlorine in pools hurts their lungs and makes their eyes red. However, the truth is that “chlorine” smell and those red itchy eyes are actually from people who urinate in pools. Read more.

Public health disaster: Proposed budget cuts to family planning services - This week, Senate Republicans released a budget proposal that would significantly cut funding for the Title X (the federal family planning program) and Teen Pregnancy Prevention programs. Such cuts would have serious consequences for public health, and would end up costing more in the long run. Read more.

Some lung nodules on CT scan don’t need immediate surgery - A new study of “non-solid” lung nodules, followed via annual spiral/low-dose CT scans among smokers and ex-smokers, shows that that type of nodule can be safely followed with imaging, avoiding needless surgical interventions. Some lung cancers were found: none caused significant illness. Read more.

Do Federal Regulations On Smoking Cessation Tools Keep People Smoking Tobacco? - The Federal government insists they want Americans to quit smoking, but recent events have led to worries that policies are designed to create winners and losers in the smoking cessation market instead keep people addicted to tobacco. Dr. Gil Ross weighs in on this issue for The American Spectator. Read more.

Getting a virus to do an antibiotic’s job - Antibiotic resistance is a major problem in this country and it shows no sight of stopping. Compounding this issue is the fact we are doing very little to fight this battle. However, there is some hope from the use of viruses that infect bacteria and researchers at MIT are doing just this. Read more.

Want a sensible take on the pharmaceutical industry? Listen to Robert Popovian - There are few topics that are as complex or controversial as drug prices. Sure, they’re expensive, but too expensive? What about value? Pfizer’s Dr. Robert Popovian weighs in with a very smart and readable opinion piece in Morning Consult. A must read. Read more.

Crypto the biggest waterborne threat this summer: CDC - The latest CDC report on waterborne illnesses reveals an unexpected villain: Cryptosporidium is a parasite that seems to have been responsible for about one-half of the 90 outbreaks over the two years 2011-12. Simple precautionary measures will help avert illness. Read more.

Homeopsychopaths – The Jabberwocky of Heather Boon - He's a no stranger to made up terms especially when utilizing the portmanteau, but Dr. Josh Bloom may have outdone himself with "homeopsychopaths". He uses the term to in support of ACSH friend Joe Schwarcz's attack on Heather Boon, Dean of the school of Pharmacy in Toronto. Read more.

More bad news about medicinal marijuana to kill your buzz - More confusing data for patients in regards to medical marijuana. A new study shows that many items being sold in America do not have an accurate dose of active ingredients, meaning patients looking to THC for pain relief are either getting too little or too much of the drug. Read more.

Yes, energize Africa’s Green Revolution! Carry on Dr. Borlaug’s work - A blog posting on the NYTimes site discusses the “Green Revolution” in Africa. While gratifying to read about progress being made, some major omissions need to be addressed in this piece, including the lack of Dr. Norman Borlaug’s contributions. Read more.

Hepatitis C Drugs: A Bona Fide Medical Miracle - Sometimes life isn't fair and despite all the research, a disease lacks any semblance of a treatment. But once in a generation, pharmaceutical research hits a grand slam with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Game over. That's what has happened with hepatitis C. Read more.

Dr. Joe Schwarcz wipes the floor with anti-aspartame zealots - ACSH friend Dr. Joe says it again — there’s nothing wrong with aspartame that a little scientific education can’t fix! The fear-mongers are doing what they do best — using chemical hobgoblins to scare folks. Read more.

California really does care about public health! - We’ve often criticized California for leading the way in craziness — for example passing Proposition 65 that labels nearly everything as containing carcinogens and/or reproductive toxicants. But now they’re ahead of the game as far as really protecting the public health! Read more.

Preliminary study links melanoma with citrus consumption - Well this is a new one: citrus consumption linked to risk of malignant melanoma. Or is it? Large study fails to convince for the usual suspects in bad science. Read more.

Short-course RT for breast cancer may be safer, more convenient alternative to standard treatment - Researchers involved in a new multi-institutional study found that a 5 day course of accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI) after lumpectomy may be just as effective, while more convenient, than standard whole-breast irradiation in appropriately selected women. Read more.

GMO wheat field trial: scientific progress, short of success - While a field trial of genetically-modified wheat failed to reach its goal (of repelling destructive aphids), the progress made in incorporating relevant genetic traits into the wheat genome will yield more information for better outcomes later. Read more.

New app might help prevent binge drinking in students - Thanks to movies like “Animal House”, “American Pie”, and “Old School,” binge drinking in college has been tightly woven into the fabric of our society. But in reality binge drinking is a major problem for public health. However, a new app might be able to help. Read more.

Top antibiotic Doc weighs in on solutions to resistance problem - When ACSH Friend Dr. David Shlaes talks about antibiotics and resistance its best everyone listen. This time he discussed the O'Neill report's de-linking proposal and obstacles to its implementation including education the public and physicians on proper use of any new antibiotics. Read more.

Successful results in Phase IIb study for early PD treatment - Parkinson’s Disease (PD) currently affects one million people in the United States, and an additional 50,000 – 60,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. A new study shows promising results for a potential treatment for early PD. Read more.

Attacking CA’s new vaccine law, Jim Carrey’s tweeting goes bonkers: Dumb and Dumber indeed - At last: we in public health have been awaiting an expert opinion on vaccine safety from media celebrity Jim Carrey for such a long time — and now he has spoken! He has strong opinions, but each one is Dumb and Dumber than the last. And his words can do much harm. Read more.

Jim Carrey’s Anti-Vaxx Movie Career - Jim Carrey’s now famous twitter anti-vaxx rant got us thinking: what would his movie career look like if they were all about his anti-science beliefs and these are our best. We encourage you to send in your best! Read more.

Anti-fracking hypocrites exposed: “Let ’em freeze,” they say So-called - ‘environmentalists’ had their way with New York’s Gov. Cuomo: they made him ban fracking, a safe, economical and carbon- and health-friendly technology to provide natural gas. An op-ed highlights the hypocrisy of the fractavists and the cowardice of the Governor. Read more.

WHO: More calories mean more obesity. Who knew? - Guess what? If more calories are available, and people eat more of them, increased obesity is a likely result. We know because researchers at the World Health Organization (WHO) just published that connection. Read more.

Maui GMO ban ruled invalid by federal judge - Last November, Maui voters passed a ban on the cultivation of genetically engineered crops when they approved a ballot initiative. However, a federal judge recently ruled that the ban “invalid and unenforceable.” Read more.

High fat diet may help dysfunctional mitochondria - Mitochondrial disease is essentially a disease that impacts how our bodies produce energy. Mitochondria are quite literally the energy factories in most of our cells and therefore a disease affecting them have widespread effects. A new study shows that high fat diet may help with symptoms. Read more.

Chinese herb thought to be helpful in knee arthritis, failed in an early trial - Herb popular in China for knee arthritis failed to surpass placebo effect in a randomized trial. Many OA patients will remain unconvinced, however, and stick with the soothing belief in its efficacy, as have generations gone by, science notwithstanding. Read more.

New drug — Saxenda — useful for weight loss - More help coming for those trying to lose weight. Saxenda, used for those with type 2 diabetes seems to reduce appetite and food intake in non-diabetic people. Only one drawback — it has to be injected. Read more.

Not Skimming On The Science: New Milk Has Lower Fat, Reduces Emissions - With low-fat milk, lactose-free substitutes and a firm place in culture and nutrition, it wouldn't seem like dairy products need a new science approach, but there are still things to optimize. A new scientific approach to milk production has produce milk thats healthier and has lower emissions. Read more.

A miracle in Cuba - Cuba has accomplished some that is truly amazing. They have become the first country in the world to stop transmission of HIV from infected mothers to their fetuses. This could be the beginning of an AIDS-free generation. Read more.

My Take – An AIDS free generation?  Really?  I’m truly pleased they’ve found a way to prevent HIV from being transmitted to their unborn children, but that will not create “an AIDS free generation”, since nothing offered by pharmaceutical science is going to change people’s habits.  As long as society fails to accept abstinence before marriage, and fidelity after marriage as the only real cure – which society has been rejected - there will never be an AIDS free generation. 

Screening for breast cancer: how useful is it? - Widespread breast cancer screening finds more small tumors, but doesn’t seem to decrease death rate from the disease. This indicates that screening is leading to overdiagnosis: removing non-threatening lesions which is, on balance, counterproductive. Read more.

Colorado’s free birth control experiment spanning 6 years proves to be major success - A program that provided free long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) to Colorado teenagers and low-income women has seen major success in reducing the rates of teen pregnancy and abortion. Such a program not only benefits the public health, but the economy as well. Read more.

The Vegan Diet Is Not For Kids - Though advocates claim that the vegan diet is sound health advice, reality tells us otherwise. Another child has been harmed by being fed a vegan-only diet and it's time for that to stop. Read more.

India’s Prime Minister calls for a second “Green Revolution” - The “Green Revolution,” pioneered by Dr. Norman Borlaug, a co-founder of ACSH and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is credited with saving perhaps a billion people from starvation. India was a prime beneficiary of increased crop yields in the 1960s. Now a “second green revolution” is needed. Read more.

Women live longer than men: Here’s why - In the battle of the sexes, women have men beat handedly when it comes to average life span. What has remained a puzzle is why. A lot of reasons have been proposed but have fallen short. A new study appears to have found the reason for this "excess in adult male mortality". Read more.

Urologist calls for a re-evaluation of PSA for prostate ca screening. Really? - Since about 1990, the PSA blood test has been dramatically over-utilized as a screening test for prostate cancer. That changed in 2012 when a federal panel advised against its routine use. Now, a urologist says, “let’s try PSAs again.” Really? Read more.

NBC news confuses the issue of cancer death rates - One of the worst (and misleading) headlines ever made its appearance in a piece from NBC News. It provides no real information, just tries to grab attention based on a supposed contradiction, which isn’t true. C’mon, you’re journalists. Can’t you do better than that? Read more.

Scientists think they have an origin story for celiac disease - The evolution and spread of genetic disease is fascinating because genetic diseases really shouldn’t exist. Natural selection should eliminate these diseases, but they persist. One proposed reason is the heterozygote advantage, which some scientists now believe is why celiac disease exists. Read more.

The stethoscope is about to celebrate its 200th birthday – and it’s about to say goodbye - In 1816 the ubiquitous stethoscope made its first appearance - but it may be coming close to extinction. Almost two hundred years later, does this ubiquitous instrument still have utility modern medicine? Read more.

FDA OKs Entresto, a 2-drug combo which reduces heart failure death and disability - A newly-approved Novartis drug combination showed impressive efficacy in reducing cardiac death and morbidity from congestive heart failure, one of the most common ailments taking the lives and health of America’s senior population. Read more.

For America’s Youth Marijuana is a Gateway…to Alcohol! - The idea that marijuana is a gateway drug has long been recycled by politicians and community leaders. Now a few economists point out that it might be a gateway to alcohol for teens. However, there's more to this story. Read more.
Congrats to Dr. Joe! - Each year since 2005, The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) has awarded the Balles Prize in Critical Thinking, a prize that recognizes excellence in the promotion of science and reason, to individuals who have taken on any number of controversial topics. This year it goes to a close ACSH friend. Read more.

It Appears California Cares About Public Health - We often criticize California legislators, governors and regulators for getting it wrong when it comes to public health. However, a few instances this year have demonstrated that California might care about public health after all. Read more.

Nutrition experts opine: We should no longer fear fat - Fear of fat is so 20th century. In an opinion column in today’s New York Times, Drs. Dariush Mozaffarian of Tufts University and David S. Ludwig of Boston Children’s Hospital describe the historical trajectory of official nutrition advice that has led to the demonization of dietary fat. Read more.

Can raising end-of-life concerns with seniors pressure them? Not necessarily - Medicare announced that the program — the federal insurance coverage for over-65s — will reimburse caregivers for “end-of-life” planning discussions. Can we just discuss this without falling prey to that old “death panel” hysteria c. 2009? Read more.

Ireland: We don’t want high yield crops - An Irish governmental committee admitted they believe GMOs produce higher yield crops. Nonetheless, the country will be voting to keep the technology out of the EU in an upcoming vote. Why? They fear they’ll beat out the established organic crops industry. Read more.

The Kennedy’s risk being remembered as an anti-vax family - Remember when the Kennedy name used to mean something? Camelot. Civil Rights. The Space Race. Those ideals are sadly fading from memory, to be replaced by the family name’s current steward, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is soiling his family's name with baseless anti-vax rhetoric. Read more.

Immunizations: Not just for humans anymore - Vaccines have long been celebrated as one of the greatest public health inventions in human history. While they have for the most part been used to improve human health, now researchers looking for new ways to protect crops are developing “vaccines” for plants. Read more.

No, BPA is not altering the genes in your placenta - The sure-fire way for anti-science groups to frighten the public about the 'new' scary chemical of the month (and raise some money in the process) is to use one of a short list of general-purpose indictments, such as "endocrine disruptor." Read more.

FDA to heighten alerts for heart risk from NSAID painkillers - Ever since the Vioxx withdrawal in 2004, studies have linked nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to elevated risk of cardiovascular events (CVD). A “boxed warning” by the FDA on these common painkillers is now going to be augmented with stronger warnings. Read more.
Some SSRIs (but not others) associated with birth defects - The association between SSRI use during pregnancy and birth defects in newborns has been a topic of much debate in the past. A new large study finds a small association between two SSRIs — Prozac and Paxil — and certain congenital heart abnormalities. Read more.

Color Them Stupid: Environmental Working Group Goes After Crayons - As if we don't have enough to worry about, the “scientists” at the Environmental Working Group are now warning us about “Killer Crayons.” As usual, they make something out of nothing. As usual, they succeed, at least somewhat. But, they make themselves look like fools in the process. Read more.

No-till agriculture offers vast sustainability benefits. So why do organic farmers reject it? - Conservation-minded farmers are embracing no-till agriculture, which is the process of prepping the land for planting without plowing. This technique has been shown to dramatically improve water retention and cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions. Notable holdouts are organic farmers. Here’s why. Read more.

NRDC under fire for violating its non-profit status - The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is a giant among anti-science groups that is able to bully companies into writing checks in return for calling off the invective among the many satellite organizations in its orbit. Well now Congress has taken notice and is investigating its non profit status. Read more.

Heavy cigarette smoking may be a causal factor for schizophrenia development - While a link between psychiatric illnesses (especially schizophrenia) and heavy smoking has long been known, there has been little research into the possibility that smoking might actually cause schizophrenia (or other psychotic disorders). A new study may help resolve that issue. Read more.

Scathing attack on anti-science curriculum at the U. of Toronto - Just when you think, perhaps, sound science is making some progress against the cascade of hyperbole, fear-mongering and “concern” based on ideology and/or personal gain, here comes the U. of Toronto (!) to tear it all apart. Read more.

American Council on Science and Health Remembers Dr. Paul Lioy - We are sad to announce the passing of internationally renowned environmental scientist Dr. Paul Lioy, 68, professor of environmental and occupational health at the Rutgers University School of Public Health. Dr. Lioy served on our a blue-ribbon panel to analyze the environmental effects of phthalates. Read more.

NYT lets investment bankers discuss GMOs, pseudoscience ensues - The NYT went looking for someone to write an anti-GMO opinion piece. Unfortunately, since almost all scientists support GMOs, they had to turn to an investment banking firm. Just as you shouldn't take stock tips from ACSH, you shouldn't biology advice from an investment banking firm. Read more.

Just because the food label says “Healthy!” doesn’t make it so - Excellent discussion on how to recognize the difference between healthier diet choices and the marketing ploys screaming “Lo-fat” and “Gluten free” to lure vulnerable consumers into a phony “health food” scam, in U.S. News & World Report. Read more.

Speeding up new drug approvals: No good deed…The House of Representatives voted to give the FDA more leeway in deciding how to determine the clinical testing requirements for innovative drugs and medical devices. This change reflects the importance of personalized medicine. This new law will speed up the approval of new medicines. Read more.

If you care about climate change, you have to embrace fracking - Despite the success created by natural gas and science and the free market, the Obama administration has created new arbitrary rules that set national limits on carbon dioxide coming from existing power plants, which threatens the legacy of making energy affordable for rich and poor alike. Read more.

JAMA study assessing statin guidelines shows they might be too limiting rather than too expansive - With the 2013 release from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association of updated recommendations on statins, many said that it would put too many of us on these drugs. A new study says even more should be on them. Read more.

Algae – the other green meat - Consumers really want to eat more algae, says an advocate at the Solazyme corporation, which makes products from algae, like cooking oil and…meat. Okay, not literally meat, but Solazyme believes algae can be a vegan alternative for meat, and can even taste like bacon! Read more.

Comrade Bernie Sanders Vs. Gilead And The Constitution - The topic of drug prices is never out of the news very long. There have been a number of efforts by various groups to control them. But, Bernie Sanders has come up with a novel idea. Too bad it violates the Constitution. Read more.

Consumer exposure to pesticide residue far below levels of health concern - A new analysis of over 2,000 food items reveals that you really don’t need to be worried about pesticide residue on your food. The detected levels of pesticides were found to be nowhere near what would be considered harmful even by conservative estimates. Read more.

Should we be alarmed about new drug warnings? Science changes with the data - Disturbing reports about commonly used drugs mean...what? Screening tests over-used, dietary recommendations revamped. In summary: Science Marches On. That’s what science is all about, as new data lead to new conclusions for those able to adjust. Read more.

Cigarette smoke wreaks havoc on lung cells, but e-cigarette vapor is like air - New study of e-cigarette vapor’s effects on human airway tissue shows that there is none. Cells exposed to vapor for six hours were unaffected. While control exposure to air had the same non-effect, cigarette smoke was deadly. No surprise there. Read more.

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