Health Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Health Media Articles in Major Media
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The average person’s body contains about 100 trillion cells, but only maybe one in 10 is human. Human cells ... are far outnumbered by those from microbes — primarily bacteria but also viruses, fungi and a panoply of other microorganisms. That thought might make a lot of people lunge for the hand sanitizer, but that impulse may be exactly the wrong one. Researchers are amassing a growing body of evidence indicating that microbial ecosystems play crucial roles in keeping us healthy. Moreover, scientists are becoming more convinced that modern trends — diet, antibiotics, obsession with cleanliness, Caesarean deliveries — are disrupting this delicate balance, contributing to some of the most perplexing ailments, including asthma, allergies, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, cancer and perhaps even autism. These microbial stowaways may wield far greater powers than previously appreciated. Acquired beginning at birth, this mass of fellow travelers may help steer normal development. Investigators are trying to identify which organisms may truly be beneficial “probiotics” that people could take to help their health. One intriguing finding is that babies born through Caesarean section apparently miss out on acquiring their mothers’ microbiota. The rising number of C-section babies ... might help explain trends such as rising incidents of asthma and food allergies caused by misfiring immune systems. Obese people appear to have a distinctive mix of digestive bacteria that make them prone to weight gain. Thin mice get fatter when their microbiota is replaced with the microbes of obese animals.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the group that told women in their 40s that they don't need mammograms, will recommend that men not get screened for prostate cancer, according to a source privy to the task force deliberations. A review of studies shows screening with the PSA blood test results in "small or no reduction" in prostate cancer deaths. The report adds that PSA testing is "associated with harms related to subsequent evaluation and treatments." The problem is that many of the cancers that get detected are so small and slow-growing, they'll never be harmful, and doctors have a difficult time discerning the quick, harmful cancers from the slow, harmless ones. If you test 100 men over age 50, 17 of them will have prostate cancer, and only three of those will have a fast-growing cancer and die of the disease, according to Dr. Kenneth Lin, senior author of the paper. If the 14 men with the slow-growing cancers are treated, they could be rendered impotent or incontinent from the treatment; or worse, the treatment could kill them. Some prostate cancer patients were disappointed with the task force's decision. A spokesman for the Prostate Cancer Foundation called the proposed recommendation "a tremendous mistake." "You're talking to someone whose life was saved by [the PSA test]," Dan Zenka said. But Lin says he believes testing does more harm than good. "Maybe you should get tested if you have this horrible family history where everyone gets prostate cancer before the age of 50. But for most men, testing is harmful," he said.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on important health issues, click here.
More than one in 10 parents use an "alternative" vaccination schedule for their young children, including refusing vaccines altogether, according to a U.S. survey ... from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The Internet survey included 748 parents of kids between the ages of six months and six years. Of those, 13 percent said they used some type of vaccination schedule that differed from the CDC recommendations. That included refusing some vaccines or delaying vaccines until kids were older -- mostly because parents thought that "seemed safer." In addition, two percent of parents refused any vaccination altogether, according to findings published in Pediatrics. Even among parents who did follow the recommended schedule, about one-quarter said in the survey they thought delaying vaccines would be safer or that the expert-backed schedule wasn't the best one to follow. Parents who skip or delay vaccines typically cite safety concerns, researchers said.
Note: For many major media articles posing serious questions on the safety of many vaccines, click here. For a powerfully revealing article showing just how dangerous vaccines can be to children's health, see the excellent article by the respected Dr. Mercola available here.
The first vaccine against human papillomavirus, or HPV, which causes cervical cancer, came out five years ago. It has become a hot political topic. Behind the political fireworks is a quieter backlash against a public health strategy that has won powerful advocates in the medical and public health community. Many find the public health case for HPV vaccination compelling. But Dr. Diane Harper, a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, says the vaccine is being way oversold. That's pretty striking, because Harper worked on studies that got the vaccines approved. And she has accepted grants from the manufacturers, although she says she doesn't any longer. Harper changed her mind when the vaccine makers started lobbying state legislatures to require schoolkids to get vaccinated. "Ninety-five percent of women who are infected with HPV never, ever get cervical cancer," she says. "It seemed very odd to be mandating something for which 95 percent of infections never amount to anything. Pap smear screening is far and away the biggest thing a woman can do to protect herself, to prevent cervical cancer," she says. Apart from the comparative advantages of vaccine versus Pap smears, Harper has another objection to mandating early vaccination at this point. She points out that studies so far show the vaccines protect for four or five years. Young women may need a booster shot later. As it stands now, Harper says, vaccinating an 11-year-old girl might not protect her when she needs it most - in her most sexually active years.
Note: Read a more recent article on why the Gardasil vaccine may not be a wise choice. Merck, the company behind Gardasil, had to suspend a questionable lobbying campaign to make vaccination by this costly drug mandatory back in 2007. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing vaccine controversy news articles from reliable major media sources.
Propelled by an increase in prescription narcotic overdoses, drug deaths now outnumber traffic fatalities in the United States, a Times analysis of government data has found. Drugs exceeded motor vehicle accidents as a cause of death in 2009, killing at least 37,485 people nationwide, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While most major causes of preventable death are declining, drugs are an exception. The death toll has doubled in the last decade, now claiming a life every 14 minutes. By contrast, traffic accidents have been dropping for decades because of huge investments in auto safety. This is the first time that drugs have accounted for more fatalities than traffic accidents since the government started tracking drug-induced deaths in 1979. Fueling the surge in deaths are prescription pain and anxiety drugs that are potent, highly addictive and especially dangerous when combined with one another or with other drugs or alcohol. Among the most commonly abused are OxyContin, Vicodin, Xanax and Soma. One relative newcomer to the scene is Fentanyl, a painkiller that comes in the form of patches and lollipops and is 100 times more powerful than morphine. Such drugs now cause more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined. Overdose victims range in age and circumstance from teenagers who pop pills to get a heroin-like high to middle-aged working men and women who take medications prescribed for strained backs and bum knees and become addicted. The seeds of the problem were planted more than a decade ago by well-meaning efforts by doctors to mitigate suffering, as well as aggressive sales campaigns by pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Note: For more on pharmaceutical industry corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
The political tempest created by Rick Perry's response to questions about his 2007 executive order requiring immunization of young girls is the wrong debate at the wrong time for the Texas governor's front-running presidential campaign. The heated political exchange over Perry's program to vaccinate all Texas school girls to protect them from cervical cancer caused by a sexually transmitted disease opens the door for critics to declare it an example of intrusive, big government to require such immunization, particularly for a sexually transmitted virus, even if, as Perry says, there was an opt-out provision for parents. The fact that Perry tried to implement the policy with an executive order, rather than proposing legislation mandating the vaccinations, spooks libertarians who don't want to see another president implementing policy through executive orders, as George W. Bush and Barack Obama have done on a wide range of social and security issues. The issue also highlights what [has been] dubbed "crony capitalism" - how big contributors and longtime friends of the Texas governor have been named to key state positions and won important policy victories in Rick Perry's Texas. Perry's former chief of staff, Mike Toomey, was a lobbyist for Merck, the manufacturer of the drug Gardasil, the vaccine that Perry sought to require for girls.
Note: Another media article points out that Perry grossly underestimated the amount of political contributions he received from Merck, the manufacturer of the drug Gardasil, the vaccine that Perry required for young girls.
[Diane] Schou is one of an estimated 5% of Americans who believe they suffer from Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS), which they say is caused by exposure to electromagnetic fields typically created by mobile phones, wi-fi and other electronic equipment. Symptoms range from acute headaches, skin burning, muscle twitching and chronic pain. Diane believes her illness was triggered by emissions from a mobile phone mast. New research by scientists at Louisiana State University and published by the International Journal of Neuroscience, claims to show that EHS can be caused by low frequency electromagnetic fields found in the environment. "The study provides direct evidence that linking human symptoms with environmental factors, in this case EMF," says Dr Andrew Marino, a neurology professor who led the study. "It's a watershed in that regard. There have been no previous studies that scientifically assess whether electromagnetic fields in the environment could produce human symptoms. And the symptoms matter because they are the first steps that show how EMFs produce human disease."
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on important health issues, click here.
From the island nation known for the quality of its cigars comes some pretty big news today: Cuban medical authorities have released the first therapeutic vaccine for lung cancer. CimaVax-EGF is the result of a 25-year research project at Havana’s Center for Molecular Immunology, and it could make a life or death difference for those facing late-stage lung cancers. CimaVax-EGF isn’t a vaccine in the preventative sense--that is, it doesn’t prevent lung cancer from taking hold in new patients. It’s based on a protein related to uncontrolled cell proliferation--that is, it doesn’t prevent cancer from existing in the first place but attacks the mechanism by which it does harm. As such it can turn aggressive later-stage lung cancer into a manageable chronic disease by creating antibodies that do battle with the proteins that cause uncontrolled cell proliferation, researchers say. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are still recommended as a primary means of destroying cancerous tissue, but for those showing no improvement the new vaccine could be a literal lifesaver. The vaccine has already been tested in 1,000 patients in Cuba and is being distributed at hospitals there free of charge. That’s a big deal for a country where smoking is part of the national culture and a leading cause of death. If it proves as successful as researchers say it is, it should give those suffering from lung cancer reason to celebrate--just not with a Cohiba.
Note: For lots more on important health issues from reliable sources, click here.
For the past year the KHOU 11 News I-Team has been investigating the quality of the tap water in Texas. What they found was surprising: That many of the state's communities have a real problem with radioactive contamination in their local drinking water. However, the team also discovered that many of those consuming it didn't know they were also being exposed to a health risk. State scientists found some of Texas’ water could pose a 1 in 400 cancer risk. Neighborhoods across the state have been getting illegal amounts of a particularly damaging form of radiation, an exposure that some say was “covered-up” by Texas officials. Water with under-the-legal-limit amounts of radiation still might not be “safe”. Concentrated "bursts" of radiation could be released into your home ... from water pipes that become "a hidden risk" themselves.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on government corruption, click here.
Propelled by an increase in prescription narcotic overdoses, drug deaths now outnumber traffic fatalities in the United States, a Times analysis of government data has found. Drugs exceeded motor vehicle accidents as a cause of death in 2009, killing at least 37,485 people nationwide, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While most major causes of preventable death are declining, drugs are an exception. The death toll has doubled in the last decade, now claiming a life every 14 minutes. By contrast, traffic accidents have been dropping for decades because of huge investments in auto safety. Public health experts have used the comparison to draw attention to the nation's growing prescription drug problem, which they characterize as an epidemic. This is the first time that drugs have accounted for more fatalities than traffic accidents since the government started tracking drug-induced deaths in 1979. Fueling the surge in deaths are prescription pain and anxiety drugs that are potent, highly addictive and especially dangerous when combined with one another or with other drugs or alcohol. Such drugs now cause more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on important health issues, click here.
An engineered virus, injected into the blood, can selectively target cancer cells throughout the body in what researchers have labelled a medical first. The virus attacked only tumours, leaving the healthy tissue alone, in a small trial on 23 patients, according to the journal Nature. Researchers said the findings could one day "truly transform" therapies. Cancer specialists said using viruses showed "real promise". Using viruses to attack cancers is not a new concept, but they have needed to be injected directly into tumours in order to evade the immune system. The virus, named JX-594 ... was injected at different doses into the blood of 23 patients with cancers which had spread to multiple organs in the body. Prof John Bell, lead researcher and from the University of Ottawa, said: "We are very excited because this is the first time in medical history that a viral therapy has been shown to consistently and selectively replicate in cancer tissue after intravenous infusion in humans. Intravenous delivery is crucial for cancer treatment because it allows us to target tumours throughout the body as opposed to just those that we can directly inject."
Note: With millions of people dying of cancer every year, why isn't this being fast tracked like the AIDS drugs were? For exciting information from reliable sources on promising new cancer cure possibilities, click here.
Sitting in front of the television may be a relaxing way to pass an evening, but spending too much time in front of the tube may take years off your life. That's what Australian researchers found when they generated life-expectancy tables for people based on mortality information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics as well as participants' survey responses about how much TV they had watched in the past week. The TV-viewing data from more than 11,000 participants older than 25 years showed that Australian adults watched an estimated 9.8 billion hours of television in 2008. People who watched an average six hours of TV a day lived an average 4.8 years fewer than those who didn't watch any television, the study found. Even more humbling: every hour of TV that participants watched after age 25 was associated with a 22-minute reduction in their life expectancy. The findings suggest that watching too much TV is as detrimental to longevity as smoking and lack of exercise.
Note: How about the health impacts of hours daily online or working at a computer screen? Might they be similar to the health effects of watching TV? For lots more on important health issues from reliable sources, click here.
Doctors have treated only three leukemia patients, but the sensational results from a single shot could be one of the most significant advances in cancer research in decades. Doctors at the University of Pennsylvania say the treatment made the most common type of leukemia completely disappear in two of the patients and reduced it by 70 percent in the third. In each of the patients as much as five pounds of cancerous tissue completely melted away in a few weeks, and a year later it is still gone. The results of the preliminary test “exceeded our wildest expectations,” says immunologist Dr. Carl June a member of the Abramson Cancer Center's research team. Chemotherapy and radiation can hold this form of leukemia at bay for years, but until now the only cure has been a bone marrow transplant. A bone marrow transplant requires a suitable match, works only about half the time, and often brings on severe, life-threatening side effects such as pain and infection. So why has this remarkable treatment been tried so far on only three patients? Both the National Cancer Institute and several pharmaceutical companies declined to pay for the research. Neither applicants nor funders discuss the reasons an application is turned down.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on hopeful new cancer treatments, click here.
It was the kind of study that made doctors around the world sit up and take notice: Two popular high-blood-pressure drugs were found to be much better in combination than either alone. Unfortunately, it wasn't true. Six and a half years later, the prestigious medical journal the Lancet retracted the paper, citing "serious concerns" about the findings. The damage was done. Doctors by then had given the drug combination to well over 100,000 patients. Instead of protecting them from kidney problems, as the study said the drug combo could do, it left them more vulnerable to potentially life-threatening side effects, later studies showed. Today, "tens of thousands" of patients are still on the dual therapy, according to research firm SDI. When a study is retracted, "it can be hard to make its effects go away," says Sheldon Tobe, a kidney-disease specialist at the University of Toronto. And that's more important today than ever because retractions of scientific studies are surging. Since 2001, while the number of papers published in research journals has risen 44%, the number retracted has leapt more than 15-fold, data compiled for The Wall Street Journal by Thomson Reuters reveal. Just 22 retraction notices appeared in 2001, but 139 in 2006 and 339 last year
Note: To learn lots more of how the medical industry puts profit above public health, click here.
It's fraudulent for academics to give their names to medical articles ghostwritten by pharmaceutical industry writers, say two Canadian law professors who call for potential legal sanctions. Studies suggest that industry-driven drug trials and industry-sponsored publications are more likely to downplay a drug's harms and exaggerate a drug's virtues, said Trudo Lemmens, a law professor at the University of Toronto. The integrity of medical research is also harmed by ghostwritten articles, he said. Ghostwriting is part of marketing that can distort the evidence on a drug, Lemmens said. Industry authors are concealed to insert marketing messages and academic experts are recruited as "guest" authors to lend credibility despite not fulfilling criteria for authorship, such as participating in the design of the study, gathering data, analyzing the results and writing up of the findings. Lemmens and his colleague Prof. Simon Stern argue that legal remedies are needed for medical ghostwriting since medical journals, academic institutions and professional disciplinary bodies haven't succeeded in enforcing sanctions against the practice. Ghostwritten publications are used in court to support a manufacturer's arguments about a drug's safety and effectiveness, and academic experts who appear as witnesses for pharmaceutical and medical device companies also boost their credibility with the publications on their CV, Lemmens said.
The food and advertising industries have launched a multi-pronged campaign to squash government efforts to create voluntary nutritional guidelines for foods marketed to children. Calling themselves the Sensible Food Policy Coalition, the nation’s biggest foodmakers, fast-food chains and media companies, including Viacom and Time Warner, are trying to derail standards proposed by four federal agencies. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has also lent its lobbying muscle to the effort. The guidelines are designed to encourage foodmakers to reduce salt, added sugars and fats in foods and drinks targeted to children. Public-health experts say children, many of whom may lack the critical-thinking skills to understand advertising, are bombarded daily by television ads, Web sites, toy giveaways and cartoon characters promoting junk food. The food and beverage industry spends about $2 billion a year marketing directly to children. The business community has portrayed the government’s guidelines as job-killing government overreach. “We allow companies into our homes to manipulate children to want food that will make them sick,” said Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Note: The "Sensible Food Policy Coalition" is arguing against voluntary guidelines designed to help our children eat more nutritious food. Is that Orwellian doublespeak or what?
An international study which debunks research linking cellphones to cancer risks received major funding from wireless manufacturers. The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer classified [the] radio frequency emitted by wireless devices as possibly carcinogenic, but a panel of international scientists recently published a study challenging these findings. But in the study's conflict of interest disclaimer, the panel acknowledged it received support from the wireless industry to conduct the research. A number of organizations, including the Mobile Manufacturers' Forum, were cited as sources of funding. Dr. Devra Davis, an American scientist who runs the non-profit education group [Environmental Health Trust] says the new study is "misleading" and "wrong." "It is propaganda," said Davis, who also founded the world's first Center for Environmental Oncology. Davis says cellphone safety is a major public health issue and governments need to move away from the idea of taking action after there are "enough sick people or dead bodies." "The fact that we don't have an epidemic right now is of course what we expect," she said. "It is actually preposterous to imply or they really say that because don't have any increase now, there's no problem. It's really very sad."
Note: For more on the health threats posed by cell phones, click here.
What causes autism? Scientists still don't have an answer, but two new studies suggest that conditions in a mom's womb may trigger the developmental disorder. Heredity is considered a major factor that triggers autism spectrum disorders, but scientists have long wondered what roles - if any - environmental factors play. Scientists used California health records to identify 192 pairs of twins - fraternal or identical - where at least one was affected by autism. Using diagnostic techniques that included directly observing the children, the scientists found 77 percent of male identical twins and 50 percent of female identical pairs both had autism. Those findings weren't too surprising, considering identical twins share the same genes. But what surprised researchers were the high rates of autism spectrum disorders they found in pairs of fraternal twins: 31 percent rate for males and 36 percent for females. Fraternal twins, from two fertilized eggs, share no more genetic material than any other siblings. But since they share the same womb, that could play a role, said Dr. John Constantino, professor of psychiatry at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, who wasn't involved in the new research. Constantino calls the research a "key finding that puts a spotlight on pregnancy as a time when environmental factors might exert their effects."
Note: For major media articles presenting evidence of a link between autism and vaccines, click here.
The number of American children diagnosed with bipolar disorder increased 40-fold in a recent 10-year span, one study found. In Minnesota, spending on powerful antipsychotic drugs to treat bipolar and other disorders in children has risen 17-fold since 2000 and exceeds $6 million annually -- just in one state-funded health program. Now, in a medical reversal with few parallels, psychiatrists are backing away from the diagnosis. While some feel bipolar was once under-diagnosed in children, they worry that thousands of kids have since received the diagnosis in error, due to overzealous doctors, desperate parents, quirks in the health insurance system and aggressive marketing by drug companies. This summer, in a sign of the profession's second thoughts, the manual that psychiatrists use to make diagnoses is being rewritten and field-tested with a new disorder that would replace bipolar in many cases. The profession's about-face could help the next generation of troubled children, but it also raises questions about the harm done to children who shouldn't have received either the diagnosis or the potent drugs used to treat it. While antipsychotics can be lifesavers for patients who truly are bipolar, they come with increased risks of obesity, diabetes, muscle spasms and other serious side effects.
There is nothing the state of North Carolina can do, Elaine Riddick says, to make up for forcing her to be sterilized when she was 14 years old. "They cut me open like I was a hog," [she said]. About 7,600 people were sterilized under North Carolina's eugenics program. Roughly 85 percent of the victims were women or girls. Unlike most states, North Carolina ramped up its sterilizations after World War II, despite associations between eugenics and Nazi Germany, which took eugenics to even more horrifying lengths. Around 70 percent of all North Carolina's sterilizations were performed after the war, peaking in the 1950s, according to state records. Nationwide, there were more than 60,000 known victims of sterilization programs, with perhaps another 40,000 sterilized through "unofficial" channels like hospitals or local health departments working on their own initiative. Eugenics was aimed at creating a better society by filtering out people considered undesirable, ranging from criminals to those imprecisely designated as "feeble-minded." People as young as 10 in North Carolina were sterilized for not getting along with schoolmates, being promiscuous or running afoul of local social workers or doctors. "Where did all this come from? This came from doctors, medical practitioners, professors, not guys in pickup trucks wearing white sheets," said Edwin Black, author of the eugenics history War Against the Weak.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.