Friday, May 26


Missed this last week, but ya gotta love this lede:

"Putting a confusing twist on the health value of fish oil, a new study suggests that eating lots of fish may actually boost the risk of atrial fibrillation, a potentially dangerous heart condition, in certain people." The "HealthDay" reporter isn't the only one who's confused, as documented here via our panoply of studies showing dangerous effects of fish consumption. Those who are familiar with this volume of scientific studies, of course, are not confused at all about the purported "health value" of fish.

But there's more. As with milk and calcium, there's a bizarre double-standard that seems to blind either the reporting or the scientific inquiry behind it: When there's a positive benefit, it's ascribed to the food (fish, milk) rather than the active component (Omega-3s, calcium), and plant-based sources (flax, leafy greens) are ignored as alternative foods. The take-away is simply "eat fish" or "drink milk." But as here, when there's a problem, suddenly this is ascribed to the component itself rather than the food. Was the study actually done on Omega-3s? Not from the sound of it. Why didn't they do a comparison of people consuming fish oil vs. people consuming flax in order to nail down whether Omega-3s themselves actually cause any heart problems? It's almost as if... they don't want to know!

Thursday, May 25


Estimates of the fallout from BSE have been revised upwards. "The deadly human form of mad cow disease, vCJD, may have infected far more people than previously thought, suggests a new study. The assumption that most people are genetically shielded from the devastating disease could be wrong, said the research published on Friday."

Wednesday, May 24


In arguments over bovine growth hormone, one of the canards from Monsanto and the dairy industry has been that this altering of cow hormones has no effect on human cell growth - that hormonal oddities within milk cannot be passed on to the human body through milk consumption.

A new study in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine certainly calls this into question, to say the least. It found that milk drinkers are five times more likely to have twins than women who eat no animal products. The BBC article explains that "It is believed that a protein found in the livers of animals may be the cause. Called Insulin-like Growth Factor or IGF, it is found in cow's milk and other animal products. In women it makes the ovaries more sensitive and increases the number of eggs produced. Higher levels of IGF improve the survival chances of an embryo in the early stages of development. The effect is likely to be greater in countries such as the United States that allow growth hormones to be fed to cattle."

While this study has interesting implications for the BGH debate, it also serves as an immediate red flag to any woman considering pregnancy: "The researcher behind this study says that women thinking of getting pregnant might consider alternatives to meat and dairy products to reduce their chances of having twins, as multiple births are more prone to complications." Just one more way dairy products can be dangerous, once again verified by science.

Tuesday, May 23


"As sad as it is, accidents like this are part of the game." The only thing sadder is that "games" like Saturday's Preakness, which cause life-threatening injuries to horses, are unwarranted and unnecessary - yet they'll continue to thrive for the foreseeable future because, hey, what's a dead horse or two in the cause of fleecing credulous bettors who plunk their life savings down on "sure things" like Barbaro and Smarty Jones?

The link is just one of a slew of stories/columns trying to find an angle on this tragedy other than the obvious one. We need safer tracks, viewership will decline, etc. with all the attendant hand-wringing one would expect. But so far none of them put forward the obvious remedy: Stop running "games" where the main athletes don't choose to be there - where they are forced to compete in situations that can literally end up killing them. Such institutions are nothing short of barbaric, and though it will be a while before they're abolished, once they are the populace will look back on the callousness of saying "it's part of the game" and shake their heads in wonder.