food and nutrition

The American Medical Association recently released a survey of 3,500 representative physicians on their “practice arrangements” - how they organize and pay themselves. Two or three graphs should tell our story. 

Consolidation for size

Solo practitioners, like pterodactyls looking for a tar pit, continue to decline, as do small 3-5 physician practices. Our “cottage days” of small practices are in retreat as practices must grow bigger to stay competitive and to negotiate with the shrinking pool of healthcare insurance carriers.

The demise of small office practices has many causes. With a ...

What should social media companies do to stem the spread of “misinformation” on their platforms? News outlets, science journals, universities, public health institutions, and non-profits have spent many years trying to answer that question. Some solutions include hiring 10,000 internet librarians to curate the content we access online and further tweaking algorithms, so that social media users are only exposed to accurate information, among many others.

I appreciate the allure of these ideas. If I were given the power to regulate the speech of anti-biotech activist groups, I just might “curate” their content off the internet forever. But nobody should...

March 24, 2021 

Back in March, Adam Smith, a reporter for TheStreet wrote about a new company called Valisure, which tested various brands and batches of alcohol hand sanitizer, and found that a number of them were contaminated with benzene, a known carcinogen (and damn a scary one, in my opinion). Mr. Smith asked for my comments.

'“All organic chemists are leery of benzene (a known carcinogen), so much so that virtually all benzene in labs has been replaced by toluene, which is very similar in properties, but is not carcinogenic,” said Josh Bloom, director of chemical and pharmaceutical science at the American Council on Science and Health, an advocacy group sometimes described as a pro-industry (emphasis added)." (1)

"...

If you're ever in the mood for some yuks, take a casual stroll up and down the aisles in a CVS pharmacy and see if you can't find a bunch of stuff that shouldn't be sold there (maybe even anywhere). It's not that hard. I recently took that stroll. Here are three doozies that take insanity to a new level. 

 

1. Non-Homeopathic-Homeopathic Arnica

It's one thing when people choose to pee away money on homeopathic nonsense, but as consumers, they have rights, too! If I'm from Neptune an apostle of homeopathy, I am well within my rights to demand that the bottle I'm purchasing contain absolutely nothing except water. No therapeutic drugs or chemicals will be tolerated. Placebo only!

So, imagine my surprise when I saw a strange sight – ...

“After Metchnikoff discovered phagocytes, he plunged into researching human immunity, hopeful to find ways to extend lives. He was motivated by his own grim experiences with disease. When his first wife died from tuberculosis, despite his zealous efforts to save her, a grievous Metchnikoff took an overdose of opium, but lived. When his second wife, Olga, battled typhoid fever, he inoculated himself with a tick-borne disease to die with her—but they both lived. But having discovered the body’s natural defense system, Metchnikoff grew optimistic. “With the help of science,” he wrote, “man can correct the imperfections of his nature.”

The title tells the beginning of a fascinating story, from Nautil.us, ...

It's time for Memorial Day Weekend - the unofficial start of summer. And, damn, do we need it. After two miserable winters of COVID it is now safe to run around maskless if you're vaccinated (thank you Pfixer/BioNtech, Moderna, and J&J!) and do all the stuff you've had on hold for so long. If one of those things is a trip to the beach here are three factoids that you may find interesting, even helpful. Originally from 2016. Enjoy.

Please give this a shot before you go back to playing Candy Crush. I promise you that it is not the same old useless WebMD summer guide:

 

  1. Put on sunscreen to avoid a sunburn
  2. If you are thirsty, drink something
  3. Don't swim laps with a cinder block tied around your neck.
  4. ...

"Every city has its own 'molecular echo' of the microbes that define it.”

Christopher Mason, Ph.D., Director of the WorldQuant Initiative for Quantitative Prediction

One of the early COVID-19 lessons was that cities, and our “built environment” in general, could affect our health – consider the population density of low-income housing or a subway car at rush hour and its impact of exposure to COVID-19. Advances in DNA analysis have allowed statistical methods to describe the microbes present in a microbiome without cultures. While that introduces a bit of ambiguity [1], it does allow for descriptions that we...

Last month, comedian Russell Brand gave his YouTube followers a 17-minute lecture about Bill Gates' plot to take over the world's food supply and force-feed the developing world genetically engineered (GE) crops. Relying mostly on anti-GMO superstar Vandana Shiva, Brand unsurprisingly got just about everything wrong.

Last week, U.S. Right to Know's (USRTK) co-founder and managing editor Stacy Malkan made more or less the same argument Brand did in a long story, “Bill Gates has radical plans to change our food. What’s on the menu?” posted on the anti-GMO group's website. [1] The only difference between the two is that Malkan, a...

Cameron English’s article on declining trust in federal public health agencies noted that the general public finds it problematic that important issues like gun violence or racism are characterized as public health problems.

What is Public Health?

Public health once meant vaccinations, sanitation, and education. Today, The CDC defines public health as “the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting health through the...

 Background

In March 2020, a choir rehearsal was designated as a COVID-19 “super-spreader” event. It lasted two and a half hours, and one previously infected person was among the 61 attendees.  Fifty-three of them became infected, 33 confirmed by testing, and 20 cases inferred by symptoms. Two of them died, corresponding to a case-fatality rate of about 4%. The report noted that hand sanitizers were used and that hugging and kissing were not allowed. Chairs were spaced approximately 30 inches apart and rows separated by about 55 inches – not exactly “social distancing” -- and the report concluded that transmission by aerosol was likely. Another such aerosol transmission event...