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The public policy director for Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York has a letter to the editor in The New York Times about an FDA rule prohibiting any man who has had sex with another man, even once, since 1977, from donating blood: “Advancements in technology, which can detect H.I.V. in blood within days or weeks of infection, render this policy obsolete. The unnecessary exclusion of large numbers of H.I.V.-negative blood donors may harm people in need of blood transfusions. A thorough review of alternative policies is both timely and necessary.”

“I wrote essentially the ...

A study published in the journal Circulation suggests that eating lamb, beef, and pork that is processed (i.e., preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or with the addition of chemical preservatives) raises the risk of heart disease and diabetes, while consuming unprocessed meats doesn’t.

“Most of the attention that this study is getting is to announce that processed meat is harmful,” says Stier. “However, the study also says that regularly eating unprocessed meat — even red meat — does not increase the risk of these diseases. Are the food police going to focus only on the negative message and ignore this other aspect of the study?”

ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan this morning joined a Hartford, Conn. talk radio program to discuss the claims that the chemical BPA in can linings and plastic products is hazardous to health.

She recounts, “When they asked why there is such a growing panic about BPA’s safety, I responded that anti-chemical activists are manipulating consumers’ unfamiliarity with chemicals by making false claims, including claims that BPA causes cancer and ‘hormonal changes.’ I also pointed out that anti-BPA activists have the media stage to themselves as, with very few exceptions, scientists have chosen to remain mute on the subject and have allowed misinformation and hype to prevail.”

But the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) didn’t remain mute after Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s press...

Raising the specter of “endocrine disruption” is always a good way to promote anxiety and concern, as the National Workgroup for Safe Markets must know very well.

Its report declaring it had found trace levels of the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) in cans of food prompted scary news stories. “Before you open a can of soup or green beans,” one report ominously intoned, “you might want to hear this.”

But conclusions...

ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross is back with us after attending a medical conference in San Francisco over the last few days. He recounts, I learned about some new horizons in earlier diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer s disease, along with other neurodegenerative diseases (Parkison s and multiple sclerosis). These treatments are in their early stages, but there is a lot of good experimental data in animals showing more clearly the actual cellular causes of Alzheimer s-type degeneration. The experimental treatments seem to retard and even reverse this process in animals.

Having said that, these new treatments, if they are ever approved, would not be available for years. Meanwhile, the current prospects in terms of the increasing burden of Alzheimer s on the population are...

A review published in the New England Journal of Medicine by the Harvard School of Public Health analyzed 20 national opinion polls conducted at various points throughout last year s H1N1 flu pandemic. The Wall Street Journal s health blog summarizes, Public health officials, take note: the If we build it, they will come approach to a pandemic flu vaccine isn t going to work. You re also going to have to convince people that the illness is a serious health threat, and that the vaccine is safe.

We in the public health community thought that once we got vaccine out there,...

NPR interviewed several scientists who are concerned about the increases in airport security designed to thwart terrorists. Specifically, they argue that the radiation from X-ray back-scatter scanners used to peer beneath passengers clothing may cause chromosomal damage.

This is a fear induced by these peoples belief in the no-threshold theory of radiation damage, says Dr. Ross. What these theories fail to realize or simply ignore is that we re all exposed to ionizing radiation continuously from the Earth and the atmosphere, without any adverse health effects. NPR even explains that, using the government s radiation dose calculations, it would take 5,000 trips through one of the back-scatter...

A study published in the Archives of Otolaryngology found that hearing loss in men over 40 occurred twice as often among those taking Viagra.

Dr. Whelan notes, This isn t the first time this has been reported. The FDA warned of this side effect in 2007.

Twice the rate of hearing loss is significant, says Dr. Ross. However, this study is based on self-reported hearing impairment, not hearing tests, so it is subject to some imprecision.

The Environmental Protection Agency has ordered BP to use a less toxic and more effective chemical to break up the oil that leaked from their offshore drilling platform. According to The Wall Street Journal, Of all the chemicals approved by the agency for use on oil spills, Corexit 9500 is among the most toxic to certain organisms, according to EPA tests. It also is among the least effective in breaking up the kind of oil that is prevalent in the area around the spill site, EPA tests concluded. Corexit 9500 was available in large quantities at the time of the accident, however, and was on the EPA's list of approved dispersants.

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We're witnessing an assault on science, as activists attack phthalates and other chemicals that have been used in household products for decades without evidence of human harm, ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan argues in a commentary published in the...