Friday, June 22, 2007

Ban all sand!

Given the do-gooder obsession with banning anything even remotely harmful (and sometimes not harmful at all), why not? Surely people should at least be kept away from beaches!

Waves and sharks aren't the only dangers at the beach. More than two dozen young people have been killed over the last decade when sand holes collapsed on them, report father-and-son doctors who have made warning of the risk their personal campaign. Since 1985, at least 20 children and young adults in the United States have died in beach or backyard sand submersions. And at least eight others died in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, according to a letter from the doctors published in this week's issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Among them was Matthew Gauruder, who died from a collapse at an after-prom beach party in Westerly, R.I., in May 2001. The 17-year-old was playing football with friends when he jumped for a pass and fell backward into an eight-foot-deep hole someone had dug earlier. Would-be rescuers made the problem worse by caving in more sand as they tried to approach him. People at the scene said he may have been buried 15 minutes, said his mother, Mavis. "People have no conception of how dangerous this is," she said, in an interview this week.

Sand hole collapses occur horrifyingly fast, said Dr. Bradley Maron of Harvard Medical School, the report's lead author. "Typically, victims became completely submerged in the sand when the walls of the hole unexpectedly collapsed, leaving virtually no evidence of the hole or location of the victim," wrote Maron, an internal medicine resident.

Maron, a former lifeguard, became interested in the topic in the summer of 1998. He was vacationing with his family on Martha's Vineyard when he and his father, Minnesota cardiologist Dr. Barry Maron, saw a lifeguard responding to a collapse that engulfed an 8-year-old girl. The girl survived, thanks to a dramatic rescue. But it left a big impression on Maron, who's spent years tracking - and writing about - similar incidents. "It's been almost like a vendetta for him," said Dennis Arnold, who runs the beach patrol in the Martha's Vineyard community of Edgartown and was Maron's boss that summer.

People naturally worry about splashier threats, like shark attacks. However, the Marons' research found there were 16 sand hole or tunnel deaths in the U.S. from 1990-2006 compared with 12 fatal shark for the same period, according to University of Florida statistics. And Bradley Maron thinks the sand-related deaths are less well-documented than shark attacks.....

On Martha's Vineyard, lifeguards are instructed to order children and adults out of any hole deeper than a child's waist, and to kick sand in to fill them, Arnold said. Occasionally, some parents protest. "They'll say 'You're ruining my kids day!' I say 'I don't care,'" Arnold said. Mavis Gauruder, who lives in Fort Mill, S.C., said she's tried to issue similar warnings, like the time she came upon a father digging a hole with a garden shovel for his young son. She went up to the pair and warned them of the dangers. The man seemed unmoved, so she finally told him she'd had a tragedy in her family involving a hole collapse. "I asked them to fill in the hole. They did, but they looked at me like I was interfering," she said.


Stroke drug may also help with frostbite

An anti-clotting drug used to treat strokes and heart attacks can also restore blood flow to frostbitten fingers and limbs, greatly reducing the need for amputation, according to a new study. Doctors at the University of Utah who conducted the research on a small sample of patients hope it marks the start of a move beyond the traditional - and limited - treatment for frostbite. "What it does is help to rescue that tissue that is damaged but not yet dead," said Dr. Stephen Morris, one of the authors of the study, which was released Monday in the Archives of Surgery medical journal.

Patients who received the thrombolytic therapy at the university's burn center were more likely to keep their frostbitten fingers and toes than patients who went without the drug. All patients had similar degrees of frostbite.

Thrombolytic therapy is not new, but has been difficult to study because not every frostbite victim is a candidate. For instance, people already on blood thinners or someone who has suffered a head injury would be at risk for serious complications from the anti-clotting drug. Dr. John Twomey, burn director at the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, first tried the therapy on a patient about 20 years ago and has treated 18 other patients with it since. Twomey, whose early findings are mentioned in the Utah study, said the treatment for frostbite has been limited to warming the affected tissue and waiting to see how much would survive.

"We saw all these frostbitten patients come in, and there was absolutely nothing we could do to alter their disease," Twomey said. "That was pretty discouraging and disheartening to see that happening, and it happened repeatedly."

In the Utah study, six patients who were treated with a drug called tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, within 24 hours of injury were compared with 25 other patients who did not receive the drug, and one patient who got the anti-clotting drug later than the 24-hour window. Among the patients who received tPA within 24 hours, only six of 59 frostbitten fingers or toes were removed, or about 10 percent. In the other group, 97 of 234 affected digits were amputated, or about 41 percent.

The sample used for the study was small and taken only from one geographic area. The study was also based only on the one anti-clotting drug. Those are just a few of the variables that leave questions to be answered by future research. But for some, the findings may offer a chance at avoiding amputation. "For the injured tissue, there's still hope," said Dr. Amalia Cochran, another of the University of Utah authors.



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.


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