Harm Reduction

After seven years at this job that there can't possibly be any surprises left, right? We've seen it all: Raw water, raw milk, coffee enemas, vaginal steam cleaning, female Viagra, gluten-free gluten, placenta eating, killer cash register receipts, penis bleaching, mind-control fluoride, studies of pee in pools, and inorganic pesticides used in organic farming. 

You name it, we've seen it. But let's not forget what I was reminded of, one of the grand-daddies of them all, when I saw this in the window of a carwash (soap-free?).

These "natural" things have been around since 1982, which could be interpreted as a surrogate measure of how often...

In an ironic but exceedingly fortunate twist of fate, American Heart Association (AHA) President and interventional cardiologist John Warner, M.D. hours after delivering his plenary address to AHA Scientific Sessions 2017 conference attendees went into full cardiac arrest in his hotel room. Why was such an event that claims the lives of nearly 90% of the more than 350,000 people who endure an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) each year in the U.S. so fortuitous?

Because he lived to tell the tale.

Since survival is fundamentally linked to early, rapid intervention of...

Older folks are going to fall.

It's a fact of life, just like the emergence of slick sidewalks in the winter. And catching your shoe on a rug, which you've had for 30 years but somehow appeared out of nowhere.

In fact, more than 1 out of 4 adults over age 65 fall each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 20 percent of falls "causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury." In addition, those aged 50-to-60 fall with even greater frequency because they are more active than 65+ seniors, states a recent study in the Journal of Allied Health

Worse yet, "at least 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures," annually, and more than "95% of hip...

Scientific Reports published a paper on reducing medical radiation dosages, CT dose reduction factors in the thousands using X-ray phase contrast by Marcus Kitchen et. al. It is fairly technical -- more about physics and algorithms -- but it could be a very big deal. 

One of the difficulties in producing readable CT studies is that our soft tissue (everything except the bones) has similar density, so X-rays penetrate these tissues pretty much equally, and it is hard to distinguish one from another. There are a variety of techniques to improve differentiating these tissues and their anatomic relationships. The breakthrough reported here is that using a new algorithm defining edges, densities, and the like,...

Like most topics in America these days, e-cigarettes are controversial. The reason stems largely from the fact that the debate is driven less by science and more by religious zealotry.

On the one side is the pro-vaping lobby, who seems to believe that e-cigarettes are the greatest invention since the wheel. Not only are e-cigarettes effective for quitting smoking, they are safe and fun.

On the other side is the prohibitionists, who believe that the mere thought of vaping is blasphemous. According to them, e-cigarettes are just as bad as tobacco, and therefore the only acceptable public health policy is total abstention.

Both sides are wrong. While the vapers are right that e-cigarettes can help smokers quit, it is unlikely that they are as safe as breathing fresh...

If your TV doesn't work properly it's annoying. If your air conditioner breaks during a heat wave this is both annoying and possibly dangerous. But when a fire extinguisher fails, that's a disaster.

There are 40 million potential disasters in North America right now. That's how many fire extinguishers were recalled by Kidde, a North Carolina-based fire safety company and a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation. Since there are about 1.3 million fires per year in the United States, that is a lot of people at risk.

The issue isn't trivial. When people tried to use them, the fire extinguishers didn't work, either because they were clogged or it was difficult to squeeze the trigger hard enough to discharge the contents of the cylinder.

There have been 391...

Halloween was last night and so I watched "Ghostbusters" once again, like I have every year since it came out. If you know the movie, the ostensible enemy is a Sumerian "god" who wants to colonize New York with his followers, but the real villain is the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Just over a dozen years after it had been founded, the EPA was already regarded as a group manufacturing problems to solve - and that was even in a big-budget Hollywood movie which, let's face it, is not exactly a pro-business culture.

Here is the plot: New York City developed a ghost problem. The free market solved it. And then a government bureaucrat who knew nothing about science put his beliefs before evidence and used a court order to wreck everything anyway.

Fast-forward...

The latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) from the CDC describes how working adults (over the age of 18) are using tobacco products. Girija Syamlal of the CDC and colleagues analyzed data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) from 2014-2016. The NHIS is an annual survey conducted via a personal interview, and the person interviewed is randomly selected (one per family) from adults in a family.

Among the working adults interviewed, the investigators found that about 22 percent used some form of combustible tobacco, which included cigarettes, cigars, pipes, hookahs, and bidis. About 15 percent used cigarettes, and the rest used the other forms.  About 3 percent...

Despite the mounting data about the benefits of electronic cigarette use, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo must not be getting the memos.  In a move that can only be explained as pro-cancer, Governor Cuomo has decided to ban indoor vaping in restaurants, bars and places of employment - effectively treating such devices in the same fashion as combustible cigarettes.

If it is passive inhalation of toxins we are worried about, I have a suggestion for Governor Cuomo - perhaps he should move to a ranch in Wyoming.  Simply step out on any NYC sidewalk on any given day and you will find yourself immediately assaulted with a plethora of respiratory insults - from the rank smells of garbage, vehicle...

As a physician, I can unequivocally say that about 70 percent of the illnesses I have encountered has been either directly or indirectly related to cigarette smoking.  It is without a doubt an awful habit, and one whose psychological grip on the user is frighteningly powerful.   

At the American Council on Science and Health, we have always championed measures that improve public health outcomes – chief among them, advocating the use of electronic cigarettes.  We have written countless articles on the utility of e-cigarette use and its role in harm reduction.  This is why it was with great excitement when I read the new ...