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Obama’s attorney general nominee thinks pot is more dangerous than alcohol. She’s wrong.

from Vox

US attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch on Wednesday said at a congressional hearing that she disagrees with President Barack Obama on his views that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) asked whether Lynch agreed with Obama’s statements to the New Yorker that pot is no more dangerous than alcohol. Lynch responded, “I certainly don’t hold that view and don’t agree with that view of marijuana as a substance. I certainly think that the president was speaking from his personal experience and personal opinion — neither of which I am able to share.”

But the empirical literature is actually very clear on this issue: marijuana is much safer than alcohol.

Alcohol is directly responsible for far more deaths than marijuana, according to the best federal data on direct health effects. No one has reportedly died from a marijuana overdose, but tens of thousands die each year due to direct health complications, such as liver disease, brought on by excessive alcohol consumption.

Read more here.

How Gobbledygook Ended Up in Respected Scientific Journals

from Slate

In 2005, a group of MIT graduate students decided to goof off in a very MIT graduate student way: They created a program called SCIgen that randomly generated fake scientific papers. Thanks to SCIgen, for the last several years, computer-written gobbledygook has been routinely published in scientific journals and conference proceedings.

According to Nature News, Cyril Labbé, a French computer scientist, recently informed Springer and the IEEE, two major scientific publishers, that between them, they had published more than 120 algorithmically-generated articles. In 2012, Labbé had told the IEEE of another batch of 85 fake articles. He’s been playing with SCIgen for a few years—in 2010 a fake researcher he created, Ike Antkare, briefly became the 21st most highly cited scientist in Google Scholar’s database.

On the one hand, it’s impressive that computer programs are now good enough to create passable gibberish. (You can entertain yourself by trying to distinguish real science from nonsense on quiz sites like this one.) But the wide acceptance of these papers by respected journals is symptomatic of a deeper dysfunction in scientific publishing, in which quantitative measures of citation have acquired an importance that is distorting the practice of science.

Read more here.

Notion of ‘Healthy Obesity’ Largely a Myth, New Study Says

from Inquisitr

The notion of “healthy obesity” has been gaining acceptance in some circles, as studies seem to be showing that for some people, obesity is not necessarily a negative health indicator. Just a few days ago, a study showed that for some obese people, reported the Inquisitr, even gaining more weight did not impact their health measurably. A new, longer-term study, however, seems to have debunked the notion of healthy obesity.

The study, conducted at the University College London, looked at 20 years of health survey data. Two groups were formed. One had about 2,500 people, 66 of whom were marked as “healthy obese” in metabolic profiles (cholesterol, blood pressure, fasting glucose, etc). The other group was much larger and contained 389 people with “healthy obesity.”

The study found that, over time, Forbes reports, those with “healthy obesity” usually degenerated into unhealthy obesity. After a decade, 35 percent of those with healthy obesity had become unhealthy. That rose to 38 percent after fifteen years, and 48 percent after 20. Another ten percent of participants lost weight and became healthy non-obese. Forbes mentions that other studies have found the same.

“This is not the first study to suggest that healthy obesity is somewhat of a myth, at least for most people.”

Reporting on the same study, New Vision quoted the study’s lead author, Joshua Bell.

“A core assumption of healthy obesity has been that it is stable over time, but we can now see that healthy obese adults tend to become unhealthy obese in the long term, with about half making this transition over 20 years in our study.”

The study counters what some researchers call “the obesity paradox,” the notion that healthy obesity can improve survival rates for some patients, says CBS News. This theory has been noted in several research studies involving overweight people who do not have the usual obesity-related issues — the “healthy obesity” group. Some of these people, studies suggest, might have lower heart disease death rates than those with a lower body mass index, despite overall risk being higher.

That theory seems to be more heavily questioned with the new study from the University College London. CBS News iterates that among the non-obese in the 20-year study, 22 percent became unhealthy but remained trim while a further ten percent had become unhealthy or had healthy obesity.

The study’s authors note that their findings indicate that even those with “healthy obesity” should try to lose weight to avoid long-term risk factors.


Heart Attack Study Says Women Should Think Twice About Aspirin As Prevention

Studies have stated that taking low-dose aspirin can help lower risks of colon cancer, heart disease, and, by proxy, heart attacks. Physicians often prescribe low-dose aspirin as a preventive for those at risk of heart disease or attack, but a new study says that potential side-effects of taking aspirin regularly could outweigh any benefit received when the patient is a woman under age 65.

Researchers in this new study found that women under 65 years of age are at higher risk of developing major gastrointestinal bleeding, and this risk may be higher than the lowered risk of heart attack that the daily regimen of aspirin may be giving. Part of this is the age group, as women under 65 receive less benefit from low-dose aspirin in alleviating heart attacks than do women over age 65. The study does not change the benefit gained for women who have already had a heart attack, however.

The Women’s Health Study, published in the journal Heart, analyzed long-term followup data from 27,939 women in randomized placebo or aspirin and calculated 15-year risks for cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer. Forbes reports that the results were marginal in the reductions but showed a higher increase in gastrointestinal bleeding. The differences were more marked for women over age 65.


Alternatives to Breast Cancer Surgery

Alternatives to breast cancer surgery are a popular research item among those who have been diagnosed or are awaiting diagnosis of breast cancer. Surgery is invasive, frightening, and physicians are beginning to find that there may be alternatives that are better than surgery in some cases. In any case, knowing your options is empowering for both making personal decisions and understanding what you face.

The first step is knowing about breast cancer surgery itself. Understanding what it entails can go a long way towards helping you make up your mind.


Major class of fracking chemicals no more toxic than common household substances


The “surfactant” chemicals found in samples of fracking fluid collected in five states were no more toxic than substances commonly found in homes, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Fracking fluid is largely comprised of water and sand, but oil and gas companies also add a variety of other chemicals, including anti-bacterial agents, corrosion inhibitors and surfactants. Surfactants reduce the surface tension between water and oil, allowing for more oil to be extracted from porous rock underground.

In a new study published in the journal Analytical Chemistry, the research team identified the surfactants found in fracking fluid samples from Colorado, Louisiana, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Texas. The results showed that the chemicals found in the fluid samples were also commonly found in everyday products, from toothpaste to laxatives to detergent to ice cream.

“This is the first published paper that identifies some of the organic fracking chemicals going down the well that companies use,” said Michael Thurman, lead author of the paper and a co-founder of the Laboratory for Environmental Mass Spectrometry in CU-Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. “We found chemicals in the samples we were running that most of us are putting down our drains at home.”

Imma Ferrer, chief scientist at the mass spectrometry laboratory and co-author of the paper said, “Our unique instrumentation with accurate mass and intimate knowledge of ion chemistry was used to identify these chemicals.”  The mass spectrometry laboratory is sponsored by Agilent Technologies, Inc., which provides state-of-the art instrumentation and support.

The fluid samples analyzed for the study were provided through partnerships with Colorado State University and colleagues at CU-Boulder.

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is a technique used to increase the amount of oil and gas that can be extracted from the ground by forcing fluid down the well. Fracking has allowed for an explosion of oil and gas operations across the country. In the U.S. the number of natural gas wells has increased by 200,000 in the last two decades, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Among the concerns raised by the fracking boom is that the chemicals used in the fracking fluid might contaminate ground and surface water supplies. But determining the risk of contamination—or proving that any contamination has occurred in the past—has been difficult because oil and gas companies have been reluctant to share exactly what’s in their proprietary fluid mixtures, citing stiff competition within the industry.

Recent state and federal regulations require companies to disclose what is being used in their fracking fluids, but the resulting lists typically use broad chemical categories to describe the actual ingredients.

The results of the new study are important not only because they give a picture of the possible toxicity of the fluid but because a detailed list of the ingredients can be used as a “fingerprint” to trace whether suspected contamination of water supplies actually originated from a fracking operation.

The authors caution that their results may not be applicable to all wells. Individual well operators use unique fracking fluid mixtures that may be modified depending on the underlying geology. Ferrer and Thurman are now working to analyze more water samples collected from other wells as part of a larger study at CU-Boulder exploring the impacts of natural gas development.

Thurman notes that there are other concerns about fracking—including air pollution, the antimicrobial biocides used in fracking fluids, wastewater disposal triggering earthquakes and the large amount of water used—that are important to investigate and ameliorate. But water pollution from surfactants in fracking fluid may not be as big a concern as previously thought.

“What we have learned in this piece of work is that the really toxic surfactants aren’t being used in the wells we have tested,” he said.


Vitamin D Is Great, But Some Supplements May Not Be

Vitamin D is one of the most researched vitamins in the human body. Science has found many things that are affected by having too little or too much or even from what source a body’s Vitamin D comes. Vitamin D has been linked to asthma, the immune system, brain function, diabetes, and more.

Yet not every source of Vitamin D is great. Some people find that some supplements, for example, are not as good as others. Scientists also warn that the primary source of Vitamin D, sunlight, can become detrimental when we overdo it, leading to skin cancer.

Over-supplementation of Vitamin D, for example, is linked with general fatigue, appetite loss, headache, and sometimes vomiting, says Food World News. It’s also linked with pregnancy problems, kidney disease, hardened arteries, and a lot of other not-so-great things.

Read more at Inquisitr.

New Study Correlates Autism Disorder Increase and Human Fetal DNA in Vaccines

A new study published in the September 2014 volume of the Journal of Public Health and Epidemiology reveals a significant correlation between autism disorder (AD) and MMR, Varicella (chickenpox) and Hepatitis-A vaccines.

Using statistical analysis and data from the US Government, UK, Denmark and Western Australia, scientists at Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute (SCPI) found that increases in autistic disorder correspond with the introduction of vaccines using human fetal cell lines and retroviral contaminants.

Even more alarming, Dr Theresa Deisher, lead scientist and SCPI founder noted that, “Not only are the human fetal contaminated vaccines associated with autistic disorder throughout the world, but also with epidemic childhood leukemia and lymphomas.”
Their study comes on the heels of recent breaking news that the CDC deliberately withheld evidence of the significant increase in autism among African-American boys who were vaccinated prior to 36 months of age.

So it should come as no surprise that the FDA has known for decades about the dangers of insertional mutagenesis by using the human fetal cell lines and yet, they chose to ignore it. Instead of conducting safety studies they regulated the amount of human DNA that could be present in a vaccine to no greater than 10ng.

Unfortunately, Dr. Deisher’s team discovered that the fetal DNA levels ranged anywhere from 142ng – 2000ng per dose, way beyond the so-called “safe” level.

“There are a large number of publications about the presence of HERV (human endogenous retrovirus – the only re-activatable endogenous retrovirus) and its association with childhood lymphoma,” noted Dr Deisher. “The MMR II and chickenpox vaccines and indeed all vaccines that were propagated or manufactured using the fetal cell line WI-38 are contaminated with this retrovirus. And both parents and physicians have a right to know this!”

Certainly these discoveries by SCPI should generate an immediate investigation by FDA officials, if not an outright ban on the use of aborted fetal cell lines as substrates for vaccine production. There are numerous other non-human FDA-approved cell lines that can and should be used.

Study is available at:

Milk Allergy Associated with Decreased Growth in Children

A recent study correlates decreased growth with milk allergies in children. The study involved 6,189 children aged 2 to 17 years as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey among a diverse selection of the U.S. population. About 1.1 percent of those responding had a cow’s milk allergy. These children had a significantly lower mean weight, height and body mass index (BMI) compared to children with other food allergies. Decreased tricepts skin folds was also experienced in children with a milk allergy.


Two Medical Journals – Two Different Stories

A few months ago, a debate on the use of statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs) in healthy individuals, and the risks of side effects associated with such therapy reached the headlines of many news media.

One of the points raised was that doctors can inflict harm to their patients by exaggerating potential adverse effects of statin drugs. This might lead to a patient’s unwillingness to accept treatment that is of potential benefit.

What followed was a heated discussion about the responsibility of medical journals and their peer review process, how erroneous statements should be corrected and when scientific papers should be retracted.

Read more here.