Health Scares Vs Health Threats

If somebody invented a device that could save the lives of millions of smokers, should society encourage its use? Yes, absolutely, the Parliament of the United Kingdom just concluded in a new report on e-cigarettes.

Published by the Science and Technology Committee, the report does not mince its words. It claims that the UK's National Health Service (NHS) is "missing [an] opportunity" to save lives by overlooking the benefits of e-cigarettes.

The report summary begins...

Two weeks ago, we reported on a bizarre decision by the online news arm of the journal Science: The outlet had reprinted an article from a politically slanted environmentalist website that hyped concern over a particular chemical. The article fell quite short of the high standards we associate with the journal.

Now, Live Science has done something similar, but it's far worse. Normally a reliable source of information (and an outlet with which ACSH has a reprinting agreement), Live Science published an article that is a dream for anti-pesticide and anti-chemical fearmongers.

The...

CNN's Christiane Amanpour has a unique relationship with reality.

While she has made a very big deal of her adherence to the truth and nothing but the truth, the matter is a bit more complicated: Ms. Amanpour is an incredibly intelligent person who paints highly distorted views of the world -- mostly by selectively providing or withholding facts -- and presents them as objective journalism.

Most of her biases are political and therefore of no interest to us. However, a recent segment on Ms. Amanpour's TV program about the Flint water crisis was so incredibly misleading, that a corrective is in order.

Spreading Hysteria About...

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...