Harm Reduction

As the fall approaches, the Delta variant continues to infect our citizens as the climate becomes more hospitable to respiratory viruses. Booster immunizations have arrived, and they’ll be rolled out soon.
There’s an epidemic of obesity and diabetes, and everyone is trying to lose weight. Many individuals use artificial sweeteners to reduce their caloric intake. A recent article titled “Aspartame and cancer: new evidence for causation” is just the latest of several studies over the years that have attempted to link artificial sweeteners – in this case, aspartame – with cancer. Is there any evidence for an association?
As another wave of infections washes across the land, and officials call for or against the non-pharmacologic interventions (NPI) a new battle is being waged. Do these interventions work? Where is the science to follow? Let’s ignore your favorite expert or talking head; I’ll report, you decide.
According to a recently released study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG): “Wireless radiation exposure for children should be hundreds of times lower than current federal limits.” It recommends stricter, lower exposure limits for all radio frequency sources, especially for children. Is there a reason for concern?
Stuart Little aside, laboratory animals aren’t people. And – yes – I know that this is pretty obvious to most of us, but it needs to be said. This is one limitation in studying the effects of…well…anything on rats and mice and applying the results to humans.
On February 9, 2001, the Ehime Maru, a Japanese trawler off Diamond Head in Hawaii, was rammed and subsequently sank by the USS Greeneville with the loss of nine lives. The Naval Court of Inquiry found the captain responsible. What does any of this have to do with COVID-19, let alone swiss cheese? Let’s start with the findings of the naval inquiry that will get us to the cheese.
Last week with little fanfare, the Environmental Working Group released its latest “report” on the putative harmful effects of cellphone radiation. Right from the start, it features two eye-catching words, "radiation" and "children."
EPIC is arguably THE electronic health record system in the US with the most significant market share (56% of all patient records). Countless millions of federal money have passed into their corporate coffers during our transition to digital record keeping. Artificial intelligence, which is more sizzle than steak, at least medical care has been held out as a grail where the data held in electronic health records could be fashioned to improve medical care. A study from JAMA updates us on that particular marriage.
I never really got into fishing, although I have many friends and family who love it. While it’s not the reason I don’t fish, I was surprised to find out recently how hazardous it is – according to statistics, fishing accounts for about 80,000 injuries every year in the US alone, [1] and that doesn’t even get into things like drowning, electrocution, and so forth. And when we look at the dangers of commercial fishing, things get even worse. Reading that chapter made me wonder why any sane person would ever pick up a rod and reel and go anywhere near the water. 
Sometimes an article cries out for attention. This one did because it is a great example of association, not causation. Which did come first, the medication or the loneliness?
There’s no doubt that obesity is a growing global problem. It lies at one end of the spectrum from its less-discussed – but equally malnourished – polar opposite: hunger. Given that some argue that defining obesity as a disease will change the trajectory of the problem for the better, it’s time for a closer examination.  
I was taking out the trash and recycling the other day, and as I was dumping things into the cans-and-bottles bin and the paper-and-cardboard bin, I started thinking about radioactive waste. Because who doesn’t, right? And in particular, I was wondering yet again why the US disposes of our spent fuel rather than trying to get every bit of utility out of it. We used to – we just stopped. Odd.