Sunday, 22 July 2012

Medicine stuff from the week 16-22/7/12

There have been an oft-repeated claim, made by health professionals as well as quacks and others, that exercise improves cognitive health into later life.
The trouble with studies done, so far, is that they tend to be small. This meta-analysis has put them all together, and has found no overall positive result - exercise will not reduce your chances of dementia in later life.
Stronger positive results were associated with smaller studies (no surprise, there!), but also with shorter studies - ones that did not follow the patients for as long. The ones that kept up with them, for longer, were less likely to get a positive result.
"Although our results show no protective effect of mid-life physical activity for cognitive decline in later life, there is good evidence that physical activity prevents other health problems."

'Lowering the national ozone standard would significantly reduce mortality and morbidity'
Ozone (O3 - three oxygens bonded together) is useful, up in the stratosphere, where it attenuates solar UV radiation, which would basically have a sterilising effect. Without the atmosphere's ozone content, life on Earth "as we know it" would not exist.
But down on the ground, where it is predominantly produced as a byproduct of hydrocarbon combustion (burning petrol/diesel/etc), it exacerbates asthma and pulmonary disease.
"The researchers estimated that if the current ozone standard of 75ppb had been met, 1,410 to 2,480 ozone-related premature deaths would have been avoided during the study period. At a lower standard of 70ppb, 2,450 to 4,130 deaths would have been avoided, and at a standard of 60ppb, 5,210 to 7.990 deaths would have been avoided. At the 75ppb standard, acute respiratory symptoms would have been reduced by three million cases and school-loss days by one million cases annually."
Want another reason to loathe fossil-fuel use? You just got one.

'India clamps down on killer chewing tobacco'
Tobacco isn't just dangerous if you inhale it - chewed tobacco is also addictive - and causes mouth cancer too.
"[Doctors] point the finger primarily at gutka [(chewing tobacco)] for India's 75,000 to 80,000 new cases of oral cancer a year, the highest in the world, according to the US-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids."
And who's facilitating the sickness? You guessed it - the tobacco industry, lobbying away like profit-motivated industries do:
"But they face a struggle -- not only to enforce the law on the streets, but to overcome the powerful lobby of the billion-dollar gutka industry, which is disputing the bans on the grounds they are unlawful."

'Bladder control an issue for young women'
Urinary incontinence is usually associated with older, post-pregnancy women, but a survey of 1000 healthy, young women, has found an incidence of 12.6%
Bear in mind that this is survey data, and so is highly susceptible to sample bias, but at least it indicates that incontinence is not something young women should feel peculiar for. You are not alone.

'Mothers who give birth to large infants at increased risk for breast cancer'
This is not causation from one variable to the other - the hormonal environment, during pregnancy, which causes high-weight babies, also increases the risk of the mother developing breast cancer.
A perfect example for the Ocean Dilemma.

[video] 'Gold nanoparticles and tea compound treat prostate cancer with fewer side effects than chemotherapy'
This article''s so close to looking like pseudoscience - but it isn't!
How it works, is that the tompound, which is found in tea, draws the gold particles to the prostate, where beta radiation issues radiotherapy to the tumour.
Gold isn't usually radioactive, but there are numerous radioactive isotopes; one of which emits beta radiation with a half-life of 2.7 days.

"The Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved the first drug shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection, the latest milestone in the 30-year battle against the virus that causes AIDS."

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