Sunday, June 17, 2012

Bits and Pieces

The case of the missing data (Old but still worth a glance)

So, heart disease remains an enigma though the striking rise and fall over the past 50 years is strongly suggestive of a biological cause. No doubt those who smoke or take insufficient exercise or whose cholesterol concentrations are greatly raised may be at "increased risk," but none can be determinant (in the way the putative biological cause clearly must be), which is why the pattern of the disease has changed so dramatically quite independently of them.

Junk Science Week: The obesity paradox

This surmise — the opposite of what you’d hear from your doctor — follows from a startling study of mortality rates among 542,000 hospital patients who suffered their first heart attacks without having had previous cardiovascular disease. The more risk factors that a patient had, the study found, the better the chance of survival.

Someone with all five risk factors that the study looked at had only a 3.6% chance of dying in hospital after an initial heart attack. The chance of dying increased to 4.2% for people with just four risk factors, to 5.3% for those with three risk factors, to 7.9% for those with two risk factors and to 10.9% for those with one risk factor.
What about patients with no risk factors at all? These were the likeliest of all to die — their likelihood of dying in hospital was 14.9%.

Researcher sues UCLA, says his firing was political

Some of Enstrom's research provoked much debate as he suggested that the negative health impacts of some pollutants had been exaggerated to impose draconian rules on industry. He also contends he is a victim of retribution for exposing wrongdoing on the state air pollution board. He previously encountered opposition to his research, funded in part by the tobacco industry, that said the health risks of secondhand cigarette smoke were not as bad as other health advocates had portrayed them.

UCLA administrators "discriminated against Dr. Enstrom based on his ideological and political affiliations and sought to purge an academic dissenter from their ranks," according to the lawsuit, which also is seeking financial damages and reinstatement.

Islamists in north Mali burn cigarettes, whip smokers

Islamists from an Al-Qaeda offshoot in northern Mali have confiscated and burned cartons of cigarettes and whipped those caught smoking as they enforce strict Islamic law, witnesses said Friday.

"Things really got lively on Friday, Islamists from MUJAO (Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa) took cartons of cigarettes that were on sale and set them alight," said Moussa Guindo, who works for the town council in Bourem.

A youth from the north Mali town, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: "I received 40 lashes because I was smoking and continued to smoke after I was told not to."

A civil servant in the town, also asking not to be named, said he was whipped even though he was not smoking.

"It was my friend who was smoking but they whipped both of us saying that the cigarette is Satan. Shopkeepers who still have cigarettes hide them and to smoke, you have to hide," he said.

I’m referring to the 2008 law that mandated the posting of calorie counts in the city’s chain restaurants. When researchers studied the law’s effect, they “found that people had, in fact, ordered slightly more calories than the typical customer had before the labeling law went into effect.”
In other words, Bloomberg is contributing to–or at least doing nothing productive to fight–obesity in the city. No one should pretend this is good health policy when our empirical research (not to mention common sense) tells us this isn’t.
Already, though, the union representing about 45 CBSA employees at the airport is concerned personal workplace conversations and remarks could be captured and become part of employees' official record, Jean-Pierre Fortin, national president of the Custom and Immigration Union, said Friday. He added that the union only learned of the audio-recording development this week, after reporters began making inquiries.
In the study, urine samples that contained minute amounts of any of five baby soaps — Johnson & Johnson's Head-to-Toe Baby Wash, J&J Bedtime Bath, CVS Night-Time Baby Bath, Aveeno Soothing Relief Creamy Wash and Aveeno Wash Shampoo — gave a positive result on a drug screening test  for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana.
The researchers began their investigation after nurses at a North Carolina hospital reported an increase in the number of newborns testing positive for marijuana .
The amount of soap in the urine needed to produce a positive test result was tiny, less than 0.1 milliliters, the researchers said.

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