Wednesday, January 26, 2011

American Council on Science and Health, 2011: Week Three

By Rich Kozlovich

I was supposed to post this on Saturday, but I have been sick. This week's edition the ASCH's Daily Dispatch really goes all over the place, including one of my favorite topics....DDT. I think you will find the insights on these diverse issues worth exploring. As I have said in the past....this is one of the groups I consistently turn to for the answers. There may be times that you will disagree with them, but at least they have a very simple philosophy; data in search of conclusions versus so many of the groups you will see featured here who have a philosophy of conclusions in search of data,


New study pregnant with anti-chemical quackery
An outlandish study from professors at the University of California, San Francisco, published today in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, reports that almost all pregnant women harbor at least one out of 163 different "potentially harmful" chemicals in their blood, urine or serum .

Can you see me now? Incidence of AMD declines
The incidence of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 50 - a result of damage to the center of the retina – has decreased in the last 15 years.

Trials for new malaria vaccine instill hope
After reporting yesterday on the looming threat of the spread of a drug-resistant form of falciparum malaria, we now bring brighter news of two phase II trials indicating that a leading candidate malaria vaccine (RTS,S/AS01E ) provides protection against the parasitic disease for at least 15 months after inoculation.

Prescription drugs face acetaminophen restrictions
\Acetaminophen, the key ingredient used in over-the-counter (OTC) drugs like Tylenol and Nyquil, will be limited only 325 milligrams per dose in prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and Percocet, the FDA announced yesterday.

Another u-turn in the controversy over antibiotics for ear infections in children
To prescribe or not prescribe? That is the question that pediatricians have been grappling with over many years as they debate whether to use antibiotics to treat acute otitis media, or ear infections, in toddlers or whether to adhere to the "watch and wait" approach.

ACSH Presents: Scared to Death: How Chemophobia Threatens Public Health
In response to the growing level of chemophobia - the irrational fear of chemicals - among the American public, ACSH held a press conference today to announce the release of its newest position paper, Scared to Death: How Chemophobia Threatens Public Health.

NYT offers remedy for “toxic headlines”
An excellent dash of science-based reassurance was administered over the weekend by New York Times columnist Andrew Revkin in his Dot Earth & blog.

Rude awakening: Sleep aid Ambien leaves some older users groggy and clumsy
Talk about waking up on the wrong side of the bed - results of a new study suggest that the popular sleep aid Ambien, sold generically as zolpidem, can leave folks over 60 temporarily groggy and clumsy when awakened abruptly.

Another health tenet stricken: Fruits and veggies don’t decrease cancer incidence.
Consumers looking to take dietary steps towards cancer prevention might want to hold off on a daily V8 regimen. The British Journal of Cancer reports that increasing fruit and veggie consumption has little impact on cancer prevention, at least among well-nourished populations.

Green drugs down the toilet
The "Green" movement has set its sights on a new consumer market: green pharmaceuticals.

Chemophobia and Chicken McNuggets
The Montreal Gazette published an article by Joe Schwarcz, Ph.D., director of McGill University's Office for Science and Society, on the subject of McDonald's Chicken McNuggets.

Possible risks of combining calcium-channel blockers and antibiotics
Monday brought word, first reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, of possible risks for patients simultaneously taking calcium channel blockers and erythromycin (E-Mycin) or clarithromycin (Biaxin) - both macrolide antibiotics.

Congestive heart failure: Where you go matters a lot
The Annals of Internal Medicine has just reported on a large-scale study at more than 4,000 U.S. hospitals which showed that thirty-day survival rates for patients diagnosed with congestive heart failure were more than twenty percent better among those who went to hospitals more accustomed to providing care for the condition.

Genetic screening: Should the government stay out?
Yesterday's Science section of The New York Times included an intriguing article by columnist John Tierney on whether the government has a proper role in regulating commercial sales of DNA analysis tests to the general public.

Anti-depressants and hot flashes: Connection isn’t so war
Last week brought word of a study which claimed that the anti-depressant drug known by the trade name Lexapro (escitalopram) could reduce the incidence of hot flashes among menopausal women.

A cheap remedy, period: Tranexamic acid for excessive bleeding
The same drug used to reduce heavy menstrual cycles may reduce the risk of complications from hemorrhage associated with trauma, Reuters; reports.

Alcohol benefits skip a beat? Potential atrial fibrillation link
Moderate alcohol consumption may be a double-edged sword when it comes to heart health, according to; recent meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

ColoPrint: A new way to predict progression of colon cancer?
Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. Has developed a genetic test that may predict which stage II and III colon cancer patients are most likely to experience a recurrence following surgery.

Younger women should be screened for osteoporosis
Perhaps the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) had Gwyneth Paltrow in mind when it updated the guidelines for assessing osteoporosis to recommend screening younger women who present the same risk factors as 65 year-old white women.

Follow-up lymph node dissection may not be necessary for breast cancer patients with negative “sentinel node” biopsy
Sometimes the first time's a charm, at least when it comes to breast cancer biopsies.

NYT op-ed is a shot in the right direction
ACSH staffers were pleased to read an op-ed by Michael Willrich in today's The New York Times promoting the notion already long upheld by scientific communities that vaccines are a safe and extremely effective public health measure.

Don’t wean too early: Surgeon General recommends six months of breast-feeding
In a report issued Thursday, U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin reminded mothers about the importance of breast-feeding their children for the first six months while also outlining plans to expand and improve community programs that provide support and peer counseling for moms.

Rats are to humans as phthalates are to abnormal development: no relationship
Environmental Health News reports on a new study published in the journal Reproductive Toxicology alleging that exposure to the phthalate DINP (di-isononylphthalate) causes developmental abnormalities in rats.

Counting down to eliminate obesity, or not
Much like counting sheep won't get you to fall asleep any faster, counting calories at Taco Time won't get you to change your order from the Big Juan burrito combo meal to a bland garden salad any sooner either.

Anti-DDT campaign has no meat, unless you count baloney
The underlying science used by a coalition of global public health groups to promote the restriction and ultimate banning of DDT use for eradication of malaria is false, dangerous and misguided, a new study published in the journal Research and Reports in Tropical Medicine says.

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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