Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Smoking bans

On July 1, bans on public smoking came into force in Britain, Australia and, I believe, in various other places. Prof. Brignell has some comments on the dubious science behind the bans. That smoking has some benefits -- such as protecting from Alzheimers -- is routinely overlooked. A few excerpts:

In February, the Australian Bureau of Statistics published a national health survey taken in 1989-90. To much surprise, it revealed that, generally, the health of smokers is better than that of many former or non-smokers. Unsurprisingly, the worst sufferers from hypertension caused by stress were the ex-smokers (16.1 per cent) and the "never smoked" (13.4 per cent); the steady smokers registered 7.4 per cent.

It is well known that smoking , particularly at work, relieves stress, and to outlaw it increases demands on hospital beds. Even the US Surgeon General, in 1964, recognised that Parkinson's disease (a degenerative disorder of the nervous system) occurred at around half the rate among smokers. In the International Journal of Epidemiology , in 1991, a review of 11 studies showed that non-smokers suffered 50 per cent more Alzheimer's disease than smokers. And researchers at Erasmus University Medical School , Rotterdam , found that more non-smokers had early-onset dementia than smokers.

In Daily Telegraph, Dr. James Le Fanu wrote: "Smokers have a 50 per cent reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's and the more smoked, the greater the protection." The New England Journal of Medicine. in 1985, reported that endometrial cancer of the womb occurs at around 50 per cent the rate among smokers as non-smokers. Colon cancer and ulcerative colitis also seem to be about 30 and 50 per cent respectively less frequent among smokers according to articles in the Journal of the American Medical Association and in the New England Journal of Medicine, in 1981 and 1983. The American government's first Health and Nutrition Examination Survey has found that osteo-arthritis is five times less likely to occur among heavy smokers than non-smokers.

I do not claim that smoking by those with unhealthy diets cannot activate illness (that passive smoking may be dangerous is a preposterous joke). But we urgently need a serious, objective, unbiased study of the causes of ill health, including the advantages and disadvantages of smoking, the impact of faulty diet and of inherited genes. It requires open minds, not the blinkered political correctness of the Department of Health. Telling the truth would unmask the futility of the many millions of pounds of public money wasted on ill thought-out and unscientifically based attacks on smoking. The campaign against smoking has certainly caused more crippling illness and premature death than if it had never begun.

Why has this assault on freedom happened in Britain today?

This is the culmination of one of the most ruthlessly dishonest campaigns in modern times. When the forces of political correctness broke out of their fastness in California , the storm troopers in the van were the anti-tobacco zealots. Tobacco was the symbolic evil and its defeat would be the demonstration of their power. In America they relied mainly on statistical fraud, but in more secretive Britain they were able simply to invent numbers and increase them steadily.

Political power now resides in Brussels , among an unelected elite who have no regard for truth or science. They produce and propagate the really big lies. As Booker reports, for example, they claim 20,000 passive smoking deaths for the UK, which pro rata for population is over thirty times higher than the demonstrably fraudulent EPA claim for the USA . There is no actual evidence that anyone, anywhere has ever died of passive smoking.


XDRs: Deadly bugs hit Australian public hospitals

A NEW breed of killer bacteria is invading Australian hospitals, endangering patients and forcing staff to revert to old-fashioned infection control measures. [About time! Proper aseptic procedures should never have been abandoned. Neglect of them has created the present problem] The mutant infections - dubbed XDR for "extreme drug resistance" - cannot be treated with available medicines. Experts say it will take at least 10 years to develop new drugs to kill the virulent bugs, which can result in blood poisoning and death. In the meantime, Australian hospitals have no option but to "return to the pre-antibiotic era" in an attempt to stem the infections' spread.

Professor David Paterson, consultant infectious diseases physician and microbiologist at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, revealed the extent of the XDR crisis in the latest edition of the journal Critical Care Medicine. "The XDR problem is here," he said. "We are returning to the pre-antibiotic era where some infections are untreatable. "Strict infection control practices must now be routinely enforced and antibiotics that are still helpful should be prudently and optimally used."

He told The Sunday Mail that drug companies had failed to develop new antibiotics [With so much of their time, attention and money devoted to fending off attacks from predatory lawyers, is it any wonder?] to combat XDR infections because it was not profitable enough. It will become a much bigger issue in the future, he warned.

XDR bacteria, which can be passed through human contact, are forecast to be a massive threat to intensive care units. Critically ill patients with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable. Staff will be forced to adopt stricter handwashing, disinfection and protective measures. "Prevention is of paramount importance," Prof Paterson said.

E-coli and other common bacteria that cause pneumonia and urinary or respiratory infections are among those that have developed resistance to various modern antibiotics. They would have been treatable in the past, before mutating into their more resilient forms. Prof Jeffrey Lipman, co-author of the study and the hospital's director of intensive care, said the unrestricted use of antibiotics had fuelled the growth of highly resistant bacteria. There had not yet been any confirmed deaths from XDRs "but we are worried about it," he said. Hospitals needed to be more aware of the XDR risk and take preventive action, he said.

Disease specialists are now experimenting with combinations of older types of antibiotics, which were considered too strong to be used in the past. Golden staph, or methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, has become a leading cause of post-surgery infections in hospitals around the world in recent years.



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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