Friday, September 28, 2007

A MOST interesting study of ill health among war veterans

Anti-malaria drug PREVENTS cancer. A fascinating finding. Australia had conscription during the Vietnam war so the sample is unusually representative. Dapsone is quite an old drug but is still not well understood. It is related to the Sulfonamides

Australia's Vietnam veterans were not harmed by taking the drug Dapsone to protect against malaria, a new study has found. The finding has eased veterans' concerns that Dapsone might have contributed to health problems they suffered in later life. Veterans Affairs Minister Bruce Billson said the study showed the incidence of cancer among those who took Dapsone was actually 10 per cent lower than in a comparison group of veterans.

But, like earlier studies into the cancer and mortality of Vietnam veterans, the study confirmed that Vietnam war service had adverse effects on the health of many veterans, he said. "The overall incidence of cancer in both groups of veterans is significantly higher than in the Australian population," he said in a statement. "For those who took Dapsone it was seven per cent higher and 20 per cent for those who didn't." [In other words, dapsone eliminated two thirds of the bad effects. Most impressive. IT WOULD SEEM TO SUGGEST A PREDOMINANTLY BACTERIAL CAUSE IN THE GENESIS OF CANCER AMONG VETERANS]

Vietnam Veterans Association national president Ron Coxon said veterans had been concerned that they might have been used as guinea pigs to test a drug that had health risks. "We had serious concerns that the veterans on Dapsone might have had some serious side effects from that medication," he said. "But from the controlled studies that have been done it would appear that is not the case ... this would seem to allay that."

Dapsone is an anti-bacterial drug most commonly used in the treatment of leprosy. During the Vietnam war, some Australian troops took the drug Paludrine as an anti-malarial agent, while some took both Paludrine and Dapsone. A royal commission into the effects of the herbicide agent orange on Australian troops in Vietnam, established in 1983, reviewed the use of Dapsone and recommended there be further study into whether it caused cancer.

The report released on Wednesday is the fourth and final volume of The Australian Vietnam Veterans Mortality and Cancer Incidence Study. This study, produced by the Department of Veterans Affairs in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, examined all army veterans deaths identified from the end of Vietnam service to 2001, and all cancers diagnosed from 1982 to 2000. It compared death and cancer rates among those who consumed a combination of Dapsone and Paludrine with those who used Paludrine alone and concluded there was little evidence that Dapsone was associated with an increased cancer risk.

"There are case reports of cancers among persons who have taken Dapsone, but no specific or unusual site of cancer consistently appears in these reports," it said. "None of the reports gives a biological argument for an association of specific cancers with Dapsone use." It said most cases described in scientific literature as developing cancer had been taking Dapsone in high doses over long periods to treat leprosy. "The study revealed no definite evidence that Dapsone exposure (among Australian servicemen in Vietnam) was associated with an increase in total cancer incidence," it said.


Men who smoke risk erectile dysfunction

The dose-response relationship and the normal sample makes this study fairly convincing

OTHERWISE healthy men who smoke risk developing erectile dysfunction - and the more cigarettes they smoke, the greater the risk of erectile dysfunction, according to a new study. Erectile dysfunction is the consistent inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual performance.

In a study of 4763 Chinese men aged 35 to 74 years who were free of blood vessel disease and who reported that they had been sexually active within the last six months, the researchers found a significant statistical link between the number of cigarettes smoked and the likelihood of erectile dysfunction. "The association between cigarette smoking and erectile dysfunction was found in earlier studies," said first author Jiang He of Tulane University School of Public Health, New Orleans. "However, most of those studies were conducted in patients with hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes and cardiovascular disease. What distinguishes this study is that it is the first to find this association among healthy men."

Overall, men who smoked had a 41 per cent greater risk of erectile dysfunction than men who did not, the team reports in the American Journal of Epidemiology. And there was a clear "dose-response" relationship, meaning that the more the men smoked, the higher was their risk of erectile dysfunction.

Compared with non-smokers, men who smoked up to 10 cigarettes per day had a 27 per cent greater likelihood of erectile dysfunction ; those who smoked 11 to 20 a day had a 45 per cent greater likelihood of erectile dysfunction; and those who smoked more than 20 cigarettes daily had a 65 per cent greater chance of suffering erectile dysfunction. The investigators estimate that 22.7 per cent of erectile all dysfunction cases among healthy Chinese men - or 11.8 million cases - might be caused by cigarette smoking.

And even when cigarette smokers quit, their risk of developing erectile dysfunction did not decrease. The risk of erectile dysfunction was statistically about the same for former cigarette smokers as for current cigarette smokers, the authors found. "This study really has a strong message for young men," He said. "It may get their attention if they know that smoking is associated with erectile dysfunction - even in the healthy population." "So the message is: Don't start."



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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