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February 1, 2008: Brits, Salts, Clots, and Counterfeits

- Quote to Note: "This is one of the most promising breakthroughs in the management of high-risk pregnancies in more than thirty years." --Dr. John Thorp, about the study he co-authored on how magnesium sulfate -- a familiar ingredient of Epsom salts -- reduce the risk of cerebral palsy in premature births by 50%.

- Over the years, we have mentioned a number of reasons scientists resist being interviewed by the media. Dr. Whelan yesterday encountered another reason: the media wants you to say what they need to hear -- not what is the scientifically correct thing to say.

CNN invited Dr. Whelan to discuss the front-page New York Times story about a Chinese drug company that produced...

This piece appeared on NationalPost.com.

The recent proposed Canadian restrictions on products such as baby bottles containing the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) is but the latest unscientific legislation made possible in part by a dangerous prevailing assumption: namely, that anti-corporate claims are by definition "good science" while claims made in defense of industry or new technology -- by anyone with the slightest ties to industry -- are by definition "suspect science." Ironically, consumers end up paying higher prices as a result of such ostensibly consumer-protecting measures (as products need to be replaced or reformulated) or even end up using less...

DISPATCH: Plastic, Longevity, Gender, and Vitamins

The Anti-Quote of the Day: The dangers of plastic bottles
"The truthful answer is that nobody knows" their full health impact yet, said David Ozonoff, a professor of environmental health at the Boston University School of Public Health. "And because we don't know, it's prudent to avoid something that is avoidable." --_Boston Globe_, April 23, 2008.

ACSH on Fox News
ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan appeared on Fox News yesterday to discuss a new study about life expectancy in America. She emphasized that the study's primary conclusion was very good news: Overall, Americans are living longer than ever--with a seven-year increase in life expectancy between 1960 and the 1990s. But there are segments of the population in...

As researchers continue to probe the possible causes of America s ongoing obesity epidemic, Barry Popkin, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, says his latest research demonstrates that people are eating more now by about an extra 600 calories per day than they did in the 1970s. After analyzing data from dietary surveys, Popkin found that Americans were consuming an average of 1,800 kcal between 1977 and 1978, but that number escalated to almost 2,400 between 2003 and 2006. Researchers found that larger portion sizes and more frequent eating during the day are to blame for our nation s expanding waistlines over...

Aspartame-IIIf you were to name some of the most studied and least dangerous chemicals commonly used in our foods, which would you select? Well, the artificial (non-nutritive) sweetener aspartame (found ubiquitously in many foods, commonly known as Nutrasweet or Equal), should be among them. Nevertheless, PepsiCo announced a few days ago that Diet Pepsi would no longer contain the substance, as...

MistletoeEvery year around this time, scare-mongers such as the Environmental Working Group (EWG) issue alerts about allegedly toxic toys, but they would warn you about nature at Christmas if they really cared.

Instead of using real toxicity, they create "chemicals of concern" based on their own unique system...

Everything is about racism these days. From politics to sports, somebody, somewhere, wants you to feel bad because something might be racist.

This uniquely American tendency to assign racism where none exists has struck again in yet another bizarre way: Celebrity chef David Chang says that Americans are racist toward Chinese food.

Before we (dumpster) dive into this peculiar accusation, let's first pause to ask whether it might even remotely be true. Consider McDonald's and Starbucks. Nothing is more American than cheap fast food and fancy, overpriced coffee. There are just over 14,000 McDonald's restaurants and just under...

The departure of Soup CEO Denise Morrison is the fifteenth CEO change at a large packaged food company in the last two-and-a-half years. What do they all share in common? They apologized for being in business and chased a vocal consumer segment that hates them - the "nocebo" community that seeks out products based on what they claim not to have on the label.

They responded to claims by media that foods had to be all-natural and in a microwave pouch. They had to be artisan, niche brands. Apparently everything was going to need avocado if they wanted to gain mindshare among Millennials. In reality, food company marketing executives have allowed themselves to be ambushed by well-funded ideologues that have secret sources controlling them - names like Environmental Working...

¢A March 23, 2008 piece by Denise Mann on WebMD quoted Dr. Ruth Kava on ACSH's review of articial sweeteners: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=56064.

¢A brief letter from Dr. Gilbert Ross about the FDA's finding of no danger from 1,4-dioxane appeared in the March 23, 2008 Los Angeles Times under the title "Toxicant Finding No Basis for Worry."

¢Family-Medical.blogspot.com mentioned ACSH as a counterpoint to CSPI in its March 2008 list of useful nutrition resources.

¢The March 2008 issue of Reason contained Todd Seavey's cover article on exaggerations about nanotech, "Neither Gods nor Goo."

¢The ShopFloor.org blog piece "Fifty AGs, 50 State Standards"...

This piece first appeared in the Washington Times.

Scares regarding chemicals in plastic -- bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthlates -- are only the latest manifestation of a deeper problem. But the problem is not "our toxic environment" or the evils of industrial civilization. The problem is a pervasive unease and anxiety that feeds upon itself and searches for danger, at which point reason, along with common sense and skepticism, tend to be tossed aside.

Americans are bombarded with an array of warnings and reassurances, stop and go signals, regarding...