health policy

Today, the political and media landscapes seem laser-focused on polarized, wide brush policy no matter the context. You don’t need to look very far to appreciate this reality. Restricting opioid prescribing for all causes in all situations is but one example where deeper discussion into the complexities of addiction get no platform and rare consideration. The problem is, when we lose the nuance, we lose the battle. Getting nuance to be in vogue is a challenge in our soundbite, instant gratification culture, and, sadly, adversely impacts real world solutions. This is reaffirmed by the latest work just published in JAMA that underscores burden of disease is widely discordant at the state level.   

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There is a stunning lack of practicality in modern-day America. This is reflected not only by our hyperpartisan politics -- in which politicians refuse to endorse good ideas if they come from the "other side" -- but in the never-ending culture wars.

Previously, the culture wars focused on topics such as gay marriage and abortion, but recently, it has shifted to things like sugar, "chemicals," obesity, and smoking. There is a large contingent of Americans who believe they have the right to dictate what you put into your body. Worse, some pass moral judgment on people who do not share their lifestyle. Smokers aren't simply engaging in harmful behavior; instead, they're fundamentally bad people.

Such beliefs appear to be gaining popularity. A...

Imagine your wife suffers a cardiac arrest in the middle of the night and remains unconscious. You start CPR and tell your granddaughter to call 911. Paramedics arrive and, unbeknownst to you, automatically enroll her in a clinical trial without her or your consent as they attempt to revive her. You believe they don’t act fast enough to get her to the hospital and give her a shot you can’t decipher because they won’t permit you in the room (in your own home). Then, she dies.

Days later, you receive a letter in the mail alerting you she had

participated in an out-of-hospital study with the county paramedics as part of the...

What's the biggest, deadliest threat the world faces today? How a person answers that question reveals a lot about them.

Epidemiologists and microbiologists fear pandemics, economists fret over depressions, and foreign policy analysts fear war. Political partisans will often say something flip -- like Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton -- but the upside is that you no longer have to take that individual seriously.

Those who fancy themselves enlightened are likely to answer climate change, but like Paul Ehrlich's Population Bomb, this is simply the apocalypse du jour. Climate change is a slow-moving threat whose consequences are in 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...

I voted to legalize recreational marijuana in the State of Washington. My general belief is that adults should be allowed to do whatever they want to do, as long as they aren't harming anybody else.

So, this article is not about whether adults should have the right to smoke pot. Instead, this article is about basic responsibility, something that a lot of potheads apparently don't have.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that a 9-year-old 5th grader took what she believed to be a box of gummy candy to school and shared them with friends. The problem is that it wasn't just any gummy candy; instead, the candy contained THC, the active...

Orrin Hatch, a Republican Senator from Utah, has announced his retirement. When he leaves, the Senate will lose its most ardent supporter of alternative medicine.

Previously, that title was held indisputably by Tom Harkin, a Democratic Senator from Iowa. He is largely to blame for the abomination known as the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), an organization so worthless that it had to change its name so biomedical scientists would stop mocking it.

If Ted Kennedy was the Lion of the Senate, Sen. Harkin was the Snake Oil Salesman of the Senate. Given that his pet project wasted billions investigating pure...

Open displays of bipartisanship are rare these days and, as such, should be applauded. Unfortunately, a recent example of bipartisanship promotes junk science and bogus health claims.

In a press release, Democratic Congressman Jared Polis and Republican Congressman Mike Coffman announced their intention to launch the Integrative Health and Wellness Caucus. That sounds nice, until you realize that "integrative" and "wellness" are code words for "alternative medicine."

However, as we've said multiple times, there's no such thing as alternative medicine. If alternative medicine worked, it would just be called medicine. In other words, a patient has two choices: evidence-based...

A recent editorial in JAMA Marijuana, Secondhand Smoke, and Social Acceptability begins by remarking on “The cloud of secondhand marijuana smoke” visible a half mile away from a 420 party [1] in Golden Gate Park. (Obviously, the work of people capable of making joints larger than Cheech and Chong could imagine.)

The authors point out that this behavior, if smoking tobacco rather than weed, would be “unthinkable (and illegal)” because it has to do with social acceptability – pot good, tobacco bad. To bolster their acceptability argument, they note differences between the two combustibles. For example, 16% of high school sophomores and 25% of high school seniors report marijuana use,...

Like most topics in America these days, e-cigarettes are controversial. The reason stems largely from the fact that the debate is driven less by science and more by religious zealotry.

On the one side is the pro-vaping lobby, who seems to believe that e-cigarettes are the greatest invention since the wheel. Not only are e-cigarettes effective for quitting smoking, they are safe and fun.

On the other side is the prohibitionists, who believe that the mere thought of vaping is blasphemous. According to them, e-cigarettes are just as bad as tobacco, and therefore the only acceptable public health policy is total abstention.

Both sides are wrong. While the vapers are right that e-cigarettes can help smokers quit, it is unlikely that they are as safe as breathing fresh...