Monday, April 09, 2007

Paracetamol causes liver damage

Aspirin used to be the first-choice analgesic but it tends to promote bleeding so paracetamol became the new religion. I wonder what the next religion will be now? That any drug that does anything also has side effects is a REAL "inconvenient truth". I have always stuck with aspirin, myself. Its ratio of benefit to risk is huge

PARACETAMOL, the drug commonly found in headache tablets, has surpassed hepatitis and alcohol to become the most common cause of liver failure in Australia. Doctors are being urged to exercise caution when prescribing paracetamol following cases of patients suffering accidental poisoning after taking only the recommended dose of the painkiller, often sold under the brand Panadol.

A report published in The Medical Journal of Australia found people who didn't eat enough, drank a lot of alcohol or took certain medications were vulnerable to toxic effects from paracetamol. Elderly people with kidney or heart and lung problems may also be at increased risk. "Accidental paracetamol poisoning should be suspected in any patient with acute liver failure," the report said. "Clinicians should be cautious about prescribing regular doses of paracetamol for pain control in malnourished or fasting patients, and need to counsel patients who are regular users of the drug." Healthy people are usually able to metabolise paracetamol, most of which is excreted from the body in urine. But the drug can accumulate in people with risk factors, rendering even a normal dose toxic.

The Accidental Paracetamol Poisoning report, compiled by experts from Austin Health in Victoria, describes the case of a 45-year-old Australian woman who died from liver failure. She was taking paracetamol for abdominal pain after having a hysterectomy and suffering complications. Her eating had been poor because of pain, vomiting and treatment. "The patient ... was noted to be displaying odd behaviour," the record states. "The following morning she became increasingly confused and drowsy. "She was admitted to the intensive-care unit, where her conscious state deteriorated rapidly and she required intubation." The woman was transferred to a liver transplant unit but died before a donor organ became available. A post-mortem examination found a toxic level of paracetamol in her body.

Hepatitis and alcoholism is another major cause of acute liver failure. Parents are warned not to give children painkillers unless they have high fever or severe pain. Dr David Thomas, pediatric spokesman for the Australian Medical Association, said: "Paracetamol and ibuprofen are drugs - they aren't without risks or side-effects


Another stupid birthday cake ban

Why not ban milk? It is highly calorific. No-one even THINKS of offering any evidence that the cake ban will make anyone slimmer, of course. Who needs evidence when you KNOW?

[NSW] schools are banning students from bringing birthday cakes to class in an effort to curb unhealthy eating habits. They say the no-cake policy will also help reduce the risk of allergic reactions among students, such as the potentially fatal anaphylaxis that can be triggered by peanuts. The move follows a crackdown on junk food in most school canteens that has involved a ban on items such as chips and soft drinks.

Cranbrook School's junior school is among the first to ask pupils not to bring birthday cakes, also requesting that parents do not send in other types of celebratory treats. Its new "nutritious food and beverage" policy also encourages parents to provide healthy school lunches and covers food eaten while on school camps and excursions. Pupils are discouraged from bringing sports or carbonated drinks. The junior school's latest newsletter to parents says: "There are many other enjoyable ways for the boys to celebrate their friends' birthdays at school and we will be exploring these instead. The boys can always enjoy a birthday cake with family and friends outside of school time." Junior school head Michael Dunn said the policy would come into effect at the start of the new term. He said that, as well as being health-conscious, the policy showed respect for children with allergies. Some Sydney preschools have already introduced a strict no-cake policy, as well as lunch-box inspections, to ensure children do not eat junk food during the day.

"This could be something that is going to become bigger," NSW Parents and Citizens Federation president Di Giblin said. "If you have got 30 children, you have got 30 birthday cakes coming through. "We have got to acknowledge that it's a treat, and part of healthy eating is a balance and choice, so while we understand it is a celebration, we can do it in a way that is healthy."

Tina Jackson said an all-out ban on birthday cakes at school seemed too strong. At Mosman Public, attended by her year 2 daughter Angelica, pupils can bring cakes but smaller-sized treats are recommended. "The school does prefer that you give cupcakes," Ms Jackson, executive director of the National Trust of Australia, said. "The kids so enjoy having the cupcakes and it makes the day really special. A ban does seem a bit harsh." She said there had been efforts to ensure the school canteen offered healthy options.



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

Trans fats:

For one summary of the weak science behind the "trans-fat" hysteria, see here. Trans fats have only a temporary effect on blood chemistry and the evidence of lasting harm from them is dubious. By taking extreme groups in trans fats intake, some weak association with coronary heart disease has at times been shown in some sub-populations but extreme group studies are inherently at risk of confounding with other factors and are intrinsically of little interest to the average person.