Public Health

A new study correlates Finland's national tobacco policies - less smoking, more snus, for those addicted to nicotine - seem to be radically reducing the incidence of subarachnoid hemorrhage, the most fatal form of stroke.

Previously it was thought that in Finland approximately a thousand people suffer subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) every year - most of them adults of working age. Up to half of those afflicted die within a year. Subarachnoid hemorrhage is typically caused by a ruptured cerebral aneurysm, which leads to a sudden increase in the intracranial pressure. Smoking is a key risk factor for SAH and lots of other diseases, whereas nicotine, the addictive component, is not. 

 By assessing electronic medical records (EMR) of 32,835 unique individuals from six Dallas-Fort Worth area hospitals, and noting abnormalities in temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and oxygen saturation within 24 hours of discharge, scholars determined that nearly 20 percent had one or more abnormalities, with elevated heart rate being the most common vital sign instability (affecting about 10 percent.) About 13 percent were readmitted or died, and individuals with three or more instabilities had a nearly four-fold increase in the odds of death.  

In recent years in Britain, we have heard much about bovine tuberculosis, which affects a wide variety of mammalian species, including mustelids, including the European badger Meles meles. There has been much argument over whether badgers should be culled to control the spread of the disease among cattle: indeed, badger culling in the United Kingdom has been a fraught and controversial subject.

New, highly curative hepatitis C therapy is both safe and effective as a treatment option for people who inject drugs,  the major population affected by the virus, according to a paper in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Stem-cell research holds promise for the treatment of a broad range of diseases and conditions, from spinal cord injury to autism. But more work is needed to turn this research into safe and effective therapies.

In these austere and difficult times, it must be my duty, I think, to alert my fellow citizens to a possible source of additional income which almost anyone can plug into: become a charlatan, and chances are that your economic hardship is a memory from the past. To achieve this aim, I [with my tongue firmly lodged in my cheek] suggest a fairly straight forward step by step approach.

1. Find an attractive therapy and give it a fantastic name

Based on a recent and fascinating scientific report from Switzerland, you might start to hear demands to eliminate mild mustard from our diet. The Swiss Federal Food Safety and VeterinaryOffice (FSVO) recently reported that mild mustard contains the chemical bisphenol F (BPF). Remarkably, BPF is not a contaminant introduced from packaging or other sources, but apparently isproduced from a component naturally present in mustard seeds when the seeds are processed to make mustard.

As suggested by the name, BPF is chemically very similar to the well-known substance bisphenol A (BPA) and both have been shown to be weakly estrogenic.

Teenagers with easy access to drugs and alcohol in the home are more likely to drink and do drugs in their early and late 20s, according to an analysis of survey results  from around 15,000 participants in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health over the course of three waves - when the survey participants were, on average, 16, 22 and 29 years old.

According to Cliff Broman, professor of sociology
at Michigan State University, the effects were more significant among Caucasians and males, which may be odd defiance of stereotype or a confounder, since Hispanic and Asian participants generally had drugs and alcohol more easily available to them in the home during adolescence. 

Several weeks ago, I wrote about the European Commission’s (EC) proposed scientific criteria to identify endocrine disrupting chemicals and highlighted what I, along with many others, believe are its numerous shortcomings. 

Crystal Hefner, wife of Playboy entrepreneur Hugh Hefner, recently elected to have her breast implants removed because she believed that they “were slowly poisoning her.” This was after she read Internet comments from people who shared similar symptoms and said implants were the problem, and after she believed she had chronic Lyme disease.

Science is not on her side. Not even close.