Health Scares Vs Health Threats

A few weeks ago, the media ran wild with an outlandish claim that an extra glass of wine will take 30 minutes off of your life.

Though the media, particularly The Guardian, deserved much of the blame for this fiasco, the journal and the authors themselves deserve an equal share. The study was poorly designed with numerous glaring flaws, and its results were sensationalized. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that this was a coordinated publicity stunt.

A new paper in Circulation, a journal published on behalf of the American Heart Association, shows the exact opposite. In fact, it demonstrates that moderate drinking can...

Measles, which still kills about 90,000 people around the world every year, isn't the only microbe making a comeback. Rotavirus could too, a bug that causes diarrhea and kills around 200,000 children under the age of five.

The CDC immunization schedule recommends that babies receive their first dose of rotavirus vaccine at the age of two months. However, only about 73% of American children have completed all doses. Once again, we are flirting with a preventable disaster....

Alcohol is bad again. Sometimes, epidemiologists tell us it's good, but today, they're telling us it's bad. What else is bad? The study that arrived at that conclusion.

Published in The Lancet -- a journal that has shown a worrisome trend in sensationalizing unremarkable research -- a new paper concludes (and advertises prominently in its abstract) that consuming an additional 100 grams of alcohol per week (roughly an additional one drink per day) increases a person's risk of stroke, coronary disease, heart failure, fatal hypertensive disease, and fatal aortic aneurysm.

The media, as usual, put the results into proper context, discussing the...

A judge in California is going to determine whether or not coffee causes cancer.

Think about that. We live in a society where judges and lawyers -- not medical doctors, scientists, or even a group of really clever AP biology high school students -- get to determine the credibility of biomedical research. The stakes are high: If coffee is deemed carcinogenic, then the State of California will be required to give up all pretense at common sense and sanity.

To give just a small flavor of the level of insanity California has reached, attorney Raphael Metzger and his group's trial lawyer NGO Council for Education and Research on Toxics (CERT - founded by U.C. Berkeley Professor Martyn...

This year's flu season is going to be bad. So far, at least 30 children have died from the flu.

But, as it turns out, influenza won't be bad just for humans; it will be bad for our canine companions, as well. According to news sources, canine influenza ("dog flu") has been reported in 46 states.

Dog flu is incredibly infectious. Though there is no "dog flu season," the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says that nearly all dogs that are exposed to it will become infected, with 80% showing signs of illness. Symptoms in dogs are similar to those seen in humans: fatigue,...

New cases of CWD, chronic wasting disease, have been detected in deer in Missouri and Arkansas. This is concerning because CWD is very similar to "mad cow disease."

During the 1990s, an outbreak of mad cow disease (formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in the UK sent the world into a panic. The outbreak was responsible for killing more than 200 people worldwide, and...

The jury is not out on infant feeding and what is ideal for the baby, yet the desire to pathologize deviating from exclusive breastfeeding or the so-called “perfect” age to start solids is stronger than ever. Now it is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that is doubling down on creating guidelines for already existing guideline’s guidelines and this pediatrician cannot take it anymore!

The framing of these messages do harm as they tend to be dogmatic and insist on solving problems we really don’t have in our society or at least not to the dramatic degrees they suggest. This unnecessarily pressures and adds stress to parents which detracts from the joy of the experience while erroneously insisting there is one right way to feed a baby.

Such are the...

The anti-science army in the war on common pesticides like glyphosate (and adjacently GMOs, those groups don't know enough science to know they are different) is having a Gettysburg moment.(1) They are out of options so they are making a desperate charge but they are in an open field a long way off and opposing them on the other side is every legitimate science and regulatory body.

Yet supporting their war on evidence-based decision-making are journals like JAMA, which now seem to do editorial review of "Letters" rather than peer review, and journalists at partisan publications like the New York Times. Rather than names like Early and Heth and...

The King County Health Department, which serves mostly the city of Seattle and its suburbs, has recently earned a reputation for being driven by politics rather than by evidence-based medicine or common sense.

Last month, the county decided that crisis pregnancy centers that don't perform abortions aren't "real healthcare." According to its website, Care Net -- a crisis pregnancy center in the Puget Sound region -- performs pregnancy tests, STD screens, and ultrasounds and provides prenatal education. Because such crisis centers are often faith-based, what they don't do is perform or encourage abortions.

That's anathema to Seattle, a city whose residents and politicians have little use for religion or...

In their latest move to protect consumers from deadly chemicals that aren't deadly, the member states of the European Union have voted to set legal limits on the amount of acrylamide in foods. Acrylamide, of course, is the chemical naturally formed when foods containing large amounts of carbohydrates that also contain protein are cooked at high temperatures — think fried and baked potatoes and bread, and many many other foods (even coffee).

A couple of years ago the European Food Safety Authority said that acrylamide is a carcinogenic risk for all age groups. The folks behind a lot of this attention is a "sustainability pressure group" called Changing Markets. Like similar American groups, they made...