Wednesday, June 13, 2007


The study below is pretty good. It does not seem to have been double blind but it is at least a before and after study so is a big step up from the usual epidemiological crap. I think is pretty convincing that you would now have to be moronic or suicidal to use "Ecstasy"

Cognition in Novice Ecstasy Users With Minimal Exposure to Other Drugs

By Thelma Schilt et al.

Context: Ecstasy (street name for [~]-3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine [MDMA]) use has been associated with cognitive deficits, especially in verbal memory. However, owing to the cross-sectional and retrospective nature of currently available studies, questions remain regarding the causal direction and clinical relevance of these findings.

Objective: To examine the relationship between Ecstasy use and subsequent cognitive performance.

Design: A prospective cohort study in Ecstasy-naive subjects with a high risk for future first Ecstasy use, as part of the Netherlands XTC Toxicity study. The initial examination took place between April 10, 2002, and April 28, 2004; follow-up was within 3 years after the initial examination.

Setting and Participants: One hundred eighty-eight healthy Ecstasy-naive volunteers (mean age, 22 years) were recruited. Of these, 58 subjects started using Ecstasy (mean cumulative dose, 3.2 tablets; median cumulative dose, 1.5 tablets). They were compared with 60 persistent Ecstasy-naive subjects matched on age, sex, intelligence, and use of substances other than Ecstasy. Differences in cognition between Ecstasy users and Ecstasy-naive subjects were adjusted for differences in cannabis and other recreational drug use.

Main Outcome Measures: Change scores between the initial examination and follow-up on neurocognitive tests measuring attention, working memory, verbal and visual memory, and visuospatial ability.

Results: At the initial examination, there were no statistically significant differences in any of the neuropsychological test scores between persistent Ecstasy-naive subjects and future Ecstasy users. However, at follow-up, change scores on immediate and delayed verbal recall and verbal recognition were significantly lower in the group of incident Ecstasy users compared with persistent Ecstasy-naive subjects. There were no significant differences on other test scores.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that even a first low cumulative dose of Ecstasy is associated with decline in verbal memory. Although the performance of the group of incident Ecstasy users is still within the normal range and the immediate clinical relevance of the observed deficits is limited, long-term negative consequences cannot be excluded.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2007;64:728-736

Legal row on vaccine, autism link

A SPECIAL court that will pit scientists against activists in the debate over whether vaccines have caused autism in children was to begin sitting last night. It will be the first test case on the subject, and involves a 12-year-old Arizona girl.

Although science has weighed in heavily on the question - with strong evidence that vaccines are not linked to the syndrome - one group of people remains unconvinced. More than 4800 cases are pending, filed by parents who believe their children have autism caused by vaccines. The little-known US Court of Federal Claims has set up a hearing in Washington, with the first case expected to last three weeks. The parents want payment under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, a no-fault system that has a $US2.5 billion ($A2.9 billion) fund built up from a tax on vaccines of 75 cents a dose.

"Monday will mark the first time ever that evidence of autistic harm from childhood vaccines is examined and cross-examined in a court of law," said activist David Kirby, who wrote a book about the purported vaccine and autism link. Families will try to convince the special "vaccine court" that the vaccines can cause healthy and outgoing children to withdraw into uncommunicative, autistic shells, even though much evidence and expert opinion has found no link.

The court has never heard a case of such magnitude. The shift from laboratory to courtroom means the outcome will hinge not on scientific standards of evidence but on a legal standard of plausibility. Rather than judges, three "special masters" will hear the test cases. The first test case will ask whether a combination vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, plus a mercury-containing preservative called thimerosal, caused the autism of Michelle Cedillo, now 12. "The profound downward change in Michelle's health began seven days following the MMR," the Legal Times newspaper quoted Michelle's mother, Theresa Cedillo, as saying.

Vaccine experts point out that parents often link vaccines with their children's symptoms because getting a shot can be upsetting. They also claim that children are vaccinated at an age when autism and related disorders are often first diagnosed. They point to two Institute of Medicine reports, in 2001 and 2004, that reviewed the evidence and determined there was no link between vaccines and autism. "From my standpoint, this question has been asked and answered," Paul Offitt, of the Philadelphia Children's Hospital, told reporters.

It was Dr Offitt who helped invent a rotavirus vaccine. "You know, it's a scientific question," he said. "It's best answered in a scientific venue. It's been done. I mean, the court is not a place to determine scientific truths. The court is a place to settle disputes." The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about one in every 150 children has autism.



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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