Public Health

Do we spend too much on HIV/AIDS research?

Alcoholism and depression are the right and left hands of a heartbreaking condition that often includes both. Nearly half of people in treatment for alcohol addiction exhibit co-occurring depression.

A long-term study of a cohort of young people, 12,000 people now six years old, from Iceland to Greece, who have been tracked from birth and whose diets and allergies have been recorded, is evaluating maternal diet’s impact on food allergy in later life is expected to uncover causes of allergy in children.

Some pointers are already evident, they note. Compared to the UK, Israeli children typically eat nuts at an earlier age and have fewer allergies, which suggests that such dietary habits may have a protective effect against nut allergies later on. “This means that the current advice that young children should avoid nuts may make things worse,” says Clare Mills, professor of allergy in the Institute of Inflammation and Repair at the University of Manchester.
Sid Salter, director of public affairs at Mississippi State University, writes in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger that labels have gone too far.

 A meta-analysis that included 14 randomized controlled trials with a total of 626 adult participants found that  whey protein, either as a supplement combined with resistance exercise or as part of a weight-loss or weight-maintenance diet, may provide men and women benefits related to body composition.

Want to reduce jet lag? A new app called Entrain claims it is the first to use a numbers-based approach  to "entrainment," the scientific term for synchronizing circadian rhythms with the outside hour. It's based on work by  Danny Forger, a professor of mathematics at the University of Michigan, and Kirill Serkh, a doctoral student at Yale University.   

Entrain is built around the premise that light, particularly from the sun and in wavelengths that appear to our eyes as the color blue, is the strongest signal to regulate circadian rhythms. These fluctuations in behaviors and bodily functions, tied to the planet's 24-hour day, do more than guide us to eat and sleep. They govern processes in each one of our cells.

A review based on full internal reports of 20 Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and 26 Relenza (zanamivir) trials found that Tamiflu (the antiviral drug oseltamivir) shortens symptoms of influenza by half a day but there is no good evidence to support claims that it reduces admissions to hospital or complications of influenza.

Evidence from treatment trials confirms increased risk of suffering from nausea and vomiting and when Tamiflu was used in prevention trials there was an increased risk of headaches, psychiatric disturbances, and renal events. Although when used as a preventative treatment, the drug can reduce the risk of people suffering symptomatic influenza, it is unproven that it can stop people carrying the influenza virus and spreading it to others. 

When you’re sober, it’s so easy to tell yourself you’ll have just one drink. Or if you’re trying to be honest with yourself, you say you’ll stop at two; maybe two is enough to feel it, but not enough to have any consequences. But what happens when you finish that second drink? How do your sober intentions hold up against the reality of that buzz waiting just inside the fridge or on the shelf? In short, can you really stop at one or two or does that one drink wreck any willpower you had earlier in the evening until you finish the rest of the alcohol in the house...and go looking for more?

Like everything else in science and medicine, there is modern controversy about circumcision. In the United States the rate of circumcision is around 81%.

A paper in Mayo Clinic Proceedings finds that the benefits of infant male circumcision to health exceed the risks by over 100 to 1. Brian Morris, Professor Emeritus in the School of Medical Sciences at the University of Sydney and his colleagues in Florida and Minnesota found that over their lifetime half of uncircumcised males will contract an adverse medical condition caused by their foreskin. The findings add considerable weight to the latest American Academy of Pediatrics policy that supports education and access for infant male circumcision.

Population-based studies have consistently shown that our diet has an influence on health - a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is recommended.

But some people go overboard and just eat meat. Or just eat vegetables. Evidence for health benefits of exclusive diets is scant. Vegetarians are considered healthier, they are wealthier, they are more liberal, they drink less alcohol and they smoke less - but those are a lot of variables in health that don't necessarily result from being a vegetarian.